Chair dancing to kushti: Hassle-free workout routines you can try at home

At the risk of looking like unwieldy masses of jelly, we try out everything from Bhangra to ballet. These fun but challenging workouts can be done with zero equipment at home

Chair dancing: Unleash your inner Nicole

Stuck at home alone, I decide this is a good time to release my inner Nicole Scherzinger. All you need for this workout is a sturdy chair that doesn’t wobble, a towel to wipe down the sweat, loud music to set the mood and bursts of attitude.

Today’s chair dance workout is being led by Los Angeles-based trainer Keaira LaShae, who specialises in dance fitness. The singer/dancer runs an online gym at, and has been holding one-hour lives on her Instagram (@keairalashae) where she trains her over 2 lakh followers. These videos are also available on her YouTube, superherofitnesstv. It is on this YouTube page that I stumble upon her chair workout routine.

For the next twenty minutes, I dance to Keaira’s ‘Drunk Love’. Starting from the back of the chair with squats, hip rolls and snaps, I make my way to the front of the chair. “Squat, stand, bend, whip your hair up” barks Keaira on the screen and I scurry to follow these orders to the beat.

She next has me jump onto the chair on my toes, hold the backrest with my palms, perform tricep dips and swivel my hips in that squatted position, jump back down, and whip my upper body into a standing position. I’m supposed to simultaneously pop my chest out and twerk like an Amazonian bird. How many muscles do you think I control at once, Keaira?

I always thought chair workouts are reserved for senior citizens as they are easier on the knees, but this has been the opposite. My thighs are on fire, as is my core, which I’m told is a good thing. Because now I can borrow these moves for any song and rest assured that I have an alternative in show business if this journalism thing doesn’t pan out.

— Sweta Akundi

Bhangra: Shut up and bounce

Confession: I have laughed hysterically at my Sardar relatives when they broke into impromptu gigs of bhangra. I won’t do that anymore. Here’s why.

It’s barely a minute into the bhangra workout on Booyah Fitness (a portal that offers a selection of exercise routines) and my arms are smarting from being up in the air, despite not carrying any weights. Normally, the maternal side of my family do this with ease, all the while holding glassfuls of whisky.

A group of Bhangra dancers perform at the Asian Festival g at the Franklin Park in Columbus, Ohio

A group of Bhangra dancers perform at the Asian Festival g at the Franklin Park in Columbus, Ohio   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

The half-hour routine by Masala Bhangra, an Indian dance-based programme that was started in the US in 1999 by fitness expert Sarina Jain, has a lot to teach me.

“The workout brings together the athleticism of bhangra and the exhilaration and flair of Bollywood,” explains Gail, the trainer for today’s online session. We start with shoulder shrugs set to beats of the dhol. Then the arms go up and I am instructed to move my wrist and fingers like I am fixing light bulbs. Gail incorporates warm-up stretches into the choreography, followed by footwork: kick the heel in front of toe, zig zag, side to side, front and back, heel to butt, squats and jumps... There is a lot of bouncing involved and I am afraid I look like an unwieldy mass of jelly.

But this is fun, so I carry on, adding “drama and attitude” to my moves, as Gail suggests. Now energetic steps are teamed with varied hand gestures and swaying hips. To begin with, my coordination goes awry and as for being light on the feet, well I look like a baby elephant on an exercise ball. Cute and sloppy, yes. Graceful, No.

Gail makes me shout “Balle, Balle” at regular intervals to check if I am breathing right. As the session ends, I lie flat on the mat. To all the uncles in turbans who make bhangra look effortless: Respect.

— Priyadarshini Paitandy

Kushti: Wrestling with incompetence

Let us get this out of the way: a langot is not a requisite to bring your inner Haryanvi pehalwan to the surface. For the kushti workout, a pair of boxers or trousers should do the trick. Sure, it may not have the ‘free-flowing’ effect of a langot, but that is never detrimental to flexing your muscles.

A word of caution, though. Do not get carried away by kushti videos, which is how I ended up spraining my wrists. Also, do ensure that you dedicate at least 10 minutes to loosen your muscles.

Salman Khan in Sultan

Salman Khan in Sultan  

I log on to the Kushti Ke Deewane’s YouTube channel where Bania Jammu is teaching us a basic but effective workout: push-ups — I can do 15 at a stretch (humble brag). As it turns out, there is a difference between regular push-ups and this. Kushti workouts are an amalgamation of your regular exercises but with a touch of mitti (soil). And that mitti is exaggerated body movements.

Take kushti’s version of push-ups, for instance. First, you squat and then throw yourself on to the floor, stretching your chest and shoulder muscles. Then you push yourself back to regain the same position — all in a matter of seconds. I feel the pain looming large on my biceps. I admit: I began panting after three counts.

Next come the squats. Normally, you squat with your torso upright and back straight. Here, it is a full squat so that you feel the intensity in thigh muscles. If you combine one and two, you get the third exercise, which is a wild mix of push-ups and squats.

By the time I finished 10 counts of the third workout, I had flashes of Sultan appear before me with ‘Khoon Mein Tere Mitti’ playing in the background. I was either hallucinating or had passed out. The latter, actually.

— Srivatsan S

Ballet: Called to the barre

I place my laptop on a cement block and take down the laundry line on the terrace to give me room. I then limber up and take my place alongside the wall. Actor Sarah Jessica Parker introduces the New York City Ballet Workout on YouTube.

Chair dancing to kushti: Hassle-free workout routines you can try at home

I bend my knees with feet pointing outwards and gently lower myself; I haven’t done the plie, a basic ballet movement, in nearly 35 years now. My thighs quiver and I hear my heels groan. The last time I did ballet was as a school-girl when the kind Mrs Bastian, our teacher from the Russian Cultural Centre, cast me as one of the dolls in a window in Coppelia. All I had to do was stare woodenly as Coppelia danced about the nursery. I feel just as wooden today. But the workout is giving me the chance to loosen up.

Performed by dancers of the New York City Ballet, one of the world’s greatest classical dance companies founded in the 1930s, the workout has been a sell-out ever since it was launched as a DVD. As Parker says “ballet artistes are also conditioned athletes. The workout enhances muscle tone, improves posture and delivers flexibility.”

Set to the beautiful strains of Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto, the workout has been developed with inputs from the New York Sports Club. Stretches are done barefoot, but soft shoes are advisable for the jumps.

“Spine straight, shoulders down and breathe,” Martins reminds often as we go through three warm-ups — that are a series of stretches that have me sweating like a horse — abdomen crunches and leg darts, barre exercises and gentle splits, little jumps and a host of ballet postures such as tendu, degage and passé. I pause to marvel at the plank. The repertoire works on posture, leg and core strength.

Muscles that have been forgotten for decades come alive, there is exertion but also a sense of elegance, although some of my ungainly moves make me feel like I am seated on a toilet rather than on a chaise longue. No one is watching but I feel like visual eye candy balancing art and fitness.

I even practise the serene smile the dancers have through the one-hour workout. The arabesque is not perfect, but I know if I keep at it through the lockdown, I will return to office a graceful swan rather than a straying stork.

— Deepa Alexander

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 2:28:45 PM |

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