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Breathless, but not exhausted

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STRETCH And let your body soar
STRETCH And let your body soar

SRIYA NARAYANAN goes for a BODY JAMMING session and comes away energised

My idea of exercise is power-walking to the shoe rack and then changing my mind (twice a week on average). Since I wasn’t exactly looking forward to an hour-long workout under the supervision of a relentless instructor, my fitness-savvy friend offered to keep me company and we headed to O2 Health Studio for a Body Jam session with Jeffrey Vardon.

It’s a brightly lit room with full-length mirrors on one side. We take our positions for the cardio session and I try not to stand too close to anyone lest I knock them over like dominoes. We begin with some quick back and forth steps; the “idea is to just keep going”, says Jeffrey who stresses the importance of a warm-up. We’re incorporating Latino dance moves (the Zumba) as he demonstrates steps that include jumps and stretches. It’s ‘dancercise’ — a routine that’s anything but monotonous. My memory is stubbornly uncooperative and I spend the entire time gazing at his feet, trying to follow the moves. During the more complex steps, I stumble and slap my friend violently on her wrist.

As the minutes pass, the intensity builds up. He shows us moves that help improve blood flow to the extremities and accelerate your metabolism and heart rate. Jeffrey, who’s a trained classical ballet dancer and head of a dance company, breaks into impromptu Hrithik Roshan-esque moves. “Are we ok?” he yells from time to time (there’s only one right answer). He ends by asking us to do some deep breathing, a luxury I’ll never again take for granted. At one point, I could’ve sworn the floor was pounding like in The Tell-Tale Heart. It’s not my imagination; he clarifies, pointing to the plywood floor. “This isn’t built on concrete but on Italian rubber that gives you a bounce. It’s the safest floor in Chennai.”

When the much-awaited break is announced, there’s a scramble for the water cooler. Our second session is an abs workout for which we lie on floor mats and do crunches in sets of twenty. I manage a pathetic three inches off the ground while the more supple people in the room go all the way. It’s quite a task and I’m thrilled when he misses a count while correcting someone’s posture. Between sets, he tells us: “Exercise will only help if combined with healthy eating. There’s no point in consuming unnecessary calories that get stored as fat. Say it with me: FAT!”

Soon, the class breaks into applause signalling that it’s over. Oddly enough, I feel energetic and not exhausted, though I’m breathless.

The benefits of Body Jam are increased bone density, greater lung capacity and prevention of arthritis and heart attacks. He recommends a frequency of at least four times a week. “Some lose 3 kg a month and you burn 400-600 calories per session. I don’t make any guarantees because it’s not about weight loss, it’s about fitness. Weight loss is just a symptom of fitness”.

Bottom line: A good regimen for people with otherwise sedentary lifestyles.

For details, contact O2 Health Studio (Khader Nawaz Khan Road) at 28332121

( sriya@thehindu.co.in)

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