Dancing My Bollywood Booty Off at Doonya

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Crash Course: Doonya is the latest Bollywood-inspired dance workout to sweep the fitness world. It fuses hip-hop, Bhangra, and traditional Indian folk dance moves into a power-packed hour of sweaty fun. Doonya also includes routines using free weights, upping the ante on the other cardio-only dance workouts. Click here for the full schedule for the DC, Virginia, and Maryland area.

[line] [left]where: Jordin’s Paradise, 1215 Connecticut Ave. NW

bring: yourself

perks: great new moves

sweat score: 6 out of 10 [/left][right]wear: anything that you can move freely in

instructor: Jeannie Baumann

cost: drop in rate is $20*[/right] [line]

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I crashed a Masala Bhangra fitness class a few months ago at Washington Sports Club and absolutely loved it. I walked away with some sassy new moves and a better appreciation for all of those Bollywood backup dancers. So when I was invited to crash a Doonya class at Jordin’s Paradise in Dupont Circle, I honestly thought I had the equation all figured out. Channel Frida Pinto a la Slum Dog Millionaire, follow along to a few songs, and burn a few hundred calories.

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Well, I was right on all three fronts, but was horribly wrong thinking Masala Bhangra and Doonya are one and the same. While both are inspired by the high-energy dance sequences found in Bollywood flicks, Doonya branches out from the Bhangra style and incorporates a challenging collection of moves from various other Indian traditions. Just as you think you are beginning to get one genre down, the song changes and you are all of a sudden moving in an entirely different way.

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For example, the traditional folk dance we did was similar to a barre workout, with lots of precision moves focused around deep plies and calf-burning heel raises. Shortly after, we were bounding across the dance floor doing high karate kicks and sweeping arm movements. And then we were running in place, swiveling hips from side to side, and lunging to the front, back, left, and right.

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This workout, my friends, is really tough. There is no built-in rest, so listen to your body and take breaks at the back of the studio as needed. If you are feeling really ambitious, a Doonya class can be 60 minutes of non-stop, heart-pounding motion. The music is loud and the beat is contagious, so even if you wanted to sit one out, it’s hard to resist joining in for too long. I had many moments of leg-burning agony quickly followed by “oh that move looks like fun, I think I’ll try it” or “I love this song, I can’t possibly sit this one out.”  Check out this short video I posted on Vine for an insider look at what I’m talking about.

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The class starts with a warm up song containing all of the foundational moves you will encounter during class. Don’t worry, you won’t remember all of these when things get going, but follow along with the instructor and you’ll be fine. If you can’t seem to figure out the sequence, just keep moving (on many occasions, I choose to jump in place…seemed to do the trick.) The class has a total of 12 or so songs, some of which incorporate weights, and then the entire session ends with a final cool down. At this point, I was a sweaty, happy, Bollywood-dancing mess…and I loved it.

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Things I wasn’t crazy about:

  • As someone with no dance background or experience with Bollywood sequences, it was sometimes hard to learn moves on the fly. Not impossible, but be prepared to do a bit of interpretive dance if you lack solid coordination skills.
  • The use of weights was great, but I would love for them to be incorporated for more songs. Yes, I’m a sucker for punishment.
  • $20 seems a bit steep for a drop-in dance class. I’ve paid that much for a spin class at a boutique studio, but that also includes a post-class mimosa, refrigerated towels dipped in essential oil, and shower facilities.

Things I liked about Doonya:

  • It was a killer cardio workout masquerading as a Bollywood dance party. Be prepared to sweat, be challenged, and have a great time.
  • The class attracts men and women of all ages, sizes, ethnicities, and abilities.
  • I loved the incorporation of weights to help round out the full-body workout.
  • For those who hate the gym or need to spice up their workout routine, this is a feel-good fun way to work up a serious sweat.

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Have you tried Doonya?

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*Doonya generously waived my drop-in fee for this class – all opinions are my own.

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