As a general rule the term ‘work out’ is not something I manage to fit into my working (or indeed non-working) week. My experience of gyms has left me cold (emotionally if not necessarily physically) and group workouts often feel so borderline competitive that I find myself desperately comparing myself to every other svelte person in the room rather than actively focusing on my own body. I’m also not one of life’s natural ‘movers’; my dance experience (bar some basic tap and flamenco classes at drama school – the less said about those the better) extends to an enthusiastic Friday night wing-womaning my best friend while he goes out on the prowl in Heaven (again, better left undiscussed). So it was with some trepidation that I undertook not one but TWO dance workout classes with the Notting Hill-based Santhosh dance studio.
Set up by ex-barrister Samiya Noordeen – and run with infectious enthusiasm by dancer Antonia – the philosophy is to help people looking to ‘dance themselves into fitness’. Santhosh have a whole host of Latin dance classes available; including ‘American Hustle’, ‘Salsa & Cha Cha’, ‘Bachata & Salsa Rueda’, and ‘Latin Choreo’. Not to mention their regular ‘Dance Fitness’ classes which combine moves from across the Latin dance spectrum.
It was at the last two on this list that I found myself one fine Tuesday morning. A smiling Antonia told me not to worry about my lack of dance experience, the aim was to have fun, not strike a perfect pose. Although a wall of mirrors (flashbacks to drama school) along the length of the studio didn’t exactly fill me with confidence, the excellent (& rather easy on the eye) instructors certainly did!
During Latin Choreo we were put through our paces by two lead tutors – teaching us every twist, stamp and hip shimmy, while a further two were on hand to take us individually through the choreography. There was at least one handsome chap to every 3-4 lady-learners, which meant a whole lot of attention and many a chance to try out what you’ve just learned (especially useful for someone like me who needs a good 10+ goes at most things before I feel confident, let alone the intricacies of dance). The class went at a lick, and was certainly as much of a workout for the grey cells as it was for the body! As we quick-stepped through the routine, I thought I was miles behind the other regulars, but one particularly lovely tutor remarked to me post class “You’ve definitely done this before!” so perhaps I covered my back better than expected. Or else flattery is another of Santhosh’s many charms!
The Dance Fitness that followed immediately afterwards was a much sweatier affair, a mad and wonderful mix up of moves from across the board. We cha-cha-ed to ‘“It’s Raining Men” and quick-stepped to Shakira and even managed some Bollywood to ”Jai Ho”! Guilty pleasures style music and a healthy dose of Latin attitude followed by a lot of laughter left me feeling nicely exhausted and much more of a dancer then I thought I was.
Thankfully the next day I wasn’t in agony, but I could certainly feel a satisfying ache in my legs that let me know I’d cleared away some cobwebs. But much more importantly Santhosh left me with the biggest smile on my face and a confidence I hadn’t quite expected. And I carried that good buzz with me through the week, well after the actual feel-good music faded.
For those intimidated by the idea of dance fitness (or indeed dancing like everyone is watching) I would thoroughly recommend a trip (& a step, ball-change) down to one of Santhosh’s Dance Fitness classes. And for those looking to brush up on existing skills or wanting a real challenge the Latin Choreo will stretch both the muscles and the brain cells! Shimmy on down to Notting Hill to see for yourself…
Latin Choreo on Tuesday morning’s takes place from 9.30-10.exam and costs £25 per class with a term pass. Dance Fitness workout on Tuesday morning’s run from 10.30-11.30am and cost £15 per class with a term pass. Drop-ins for both classes available via enquiry. Further class details can be found via the website.
Santhosh classes take place at The Tabernacle, Dance Studio in Notting Hill, W11 2AY.