Fitness class teaches students international styles of dance

Julieta Rodrigo // Contributing Writer

No other fitness class lets you explore dances around the world in one hour like Jai Ho Fit.

Offered at the Wellness and Recreation Center at The Biscayne Bay Campus on Mondays from noon to 1 p.m., Jai Ho Fit (World Dance) is a free dance and fitness class that samples various international styles of dance in a condensed lesson, and you don’t need a passport to participate.

Jai Ho means “victory” in Hindi, and alludes to the successful incorporation of global dance traditions into a cohesive and fun choreography, according to fitness instructor Janet Uribe.

Created seven years ago, the class originally operated under the name, “Bollywood Fusion Fitness.” However, three years ago, the name was changed to Jai Ho (World Dance) to acknowledge the influence of Hawaiian, Polynesian, African and hip-hop styles in the class.

The class is very fast-paced; among other techniques, students are taught how to isolate their muscles, meaning how to move their hips without moving their core, and how to dance to different rhythms and beats.

Uribe’s music choices travel from one ethnic region to another and provides easy-to-follow instructions for the routines. Students will find themselves smiling from the combination of energetic and playful dance moves while their heartbeats increase with the upbeat music.

The music played in class includes songs from the Punjab region in North India, Mumbai in West India, Bangladesh, Brazil, Polynesia and Africa. Many indigenous roots are honored in the class, particularly with the inclusion of harvest dances. These earth dances help natives connect with the lands around them, and thus the Jai Ho classes are similarly conducted barefoot to reflect these traditions.

Uribe purposely created the class to be high-intensity and challenging.

“In the beginning, [the moves] are a little bit complicated,” she said. “But it is good because it makes you forget about all your problems.”

Uribe said the class gets students away from the stresses in their life such as looming exam dates, deadlines or work responsibilities. Instead, all your thoughts are focused on the techniques, and Uribe believes this helps students relax and partake in a more spiritually beneficial workout.

“Sometimes, when the class is easy, you have a space for thinking,” Uribe said. “So we try to channel all of the students’ thoughts into the dance moves.”

Shirly Czaikowski, a freshman majoring in business, told Student Media that her love for dance brought her to the class.

“I have always liked dance, so I approach every opportunity to try and learn more,” she said. “I started attending this class during the summer, and I enjoy incorporating new moves into my routines.”

Uribe said the class is fun and different, and encouraged students to try out the class, especially if they have never heard of or seen these regional dances being performed.

Classes like hip-hop, reggae or Zumba are easier for students to connect with than Jai Ho, she said, because many people don’t even know what the style is.

“I think the most rewarding thing is when you try something different and difficult, and this class provides that,” Uribe said.

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