Are you tired of those gadgets and gizmos that promise the world (and a small bum) but that fail to deliver on these promises? You get bored, you become unmotivated and the equipment gets tatty and starts to fall apart from neglect. Are you tired of doing the same routines at gym and seeing no results, mostly because you don’t know what you need to do?
At the risk of sounding like one of those exasperating commercials for fitness equipment, if I were writing a commercial, this is probably what the intro to Sugardance would have sounded like — a fun, sociable haven for people who want to lose weight, tone up and have a great time whilst doing so. Local Ballito business, Sugardance, has been open for 5 years and in that time has generated a loyal following of people eager to try something different. Owner and dance teacher, Julie Robert, is passionate about her studio and the people who use it and has recently partnered with Patricia Lewis to create a fun new fitness DVD called Vooma! We chat to Julie to hear more about the DVD and her pet project, Sugardance!
What is the idea behind Sugardance? How did it begin? When I was in London I took classes at Pineapple Dance Studio in Convent Garden and I was amazed at the clientele they attracted… businessmen and women swapping their suits and pencil skirts for track pants and tights. I realised that in South Africa there was very little like that available to the general public. Unless you were part of a dance company, you did not have access to classes like hip-hop, ballet, contemporary, etc, so I decided to focus on that!
What does Sugardance offer? Classes for adults and kids, including ballet, belly dancing, contemporary/jazz, dancing with my mommy, hip-hop, latin/ballroom, modelling, modern, nia, pole dancing, yoga and zumba. The two studios are also available for hourly rental or functions.
Which dance styles are more for exercise than just a hobby? All classes offer either a stretch, strength or cardio workout. Some people love to run on the promenade, so they balance that with some yoga and ballet classes. Others hate running on their own, so Zumba offers the sweat they need to keep the calories at bay. For this reason your first class is always free as you never know what style you might fall in love with and you might well be surprised at the way your muscles feel after a class, so it’s best to come and try them all out. But having said that, movement classes in general can be very therapeutic, so I think a lot of clients just enjoy being in class, listening to the music, using their bodies and socialising, without necessarily leaving dripping in sweat.
What are the benefits of using dance as a form of exercise, both mental and physical? Most gym exercises are very linear. Women especially are prone to osteoporosis and dance and movement classes force the body to move in all directions, keeping the joints “oiled”. Some people enjoy the repetitiveness of a gym workout, but most complain of getting bored and unmotivated. Classes at Sugardance are fun, yet challenging and will keep you coming back for more. There is a great vibe at the studio and people often comment on how good they feel after a class. All the teachers love what they do and their passion shines through. Life’s too short to get stuck in a rut… if you’re bored with your gym workout take the time to try something new.
What is the most interesting or challenging style of dance offered? I’d have to say pole dancing. If you can get your head past the stigma often attached to pole dancing, you will find yourself building muscles in your stomach and arms that you didn’t know where there… and fast!
I think a lot of people, especially older women, would be hesitant to join because they’re scared they won’t be able to keep up or learn the dances. What is your advice to them? And in terms of Zumba, is it relatively easier? We are actually going up to Jo’burg to do the Zumba Gold Certificate so that we can offer a variety of levels in our Zumba classes. Zumba Gold is aimed at active over 40s, beginners and people who are a little bit shy. Sugardance will be offering these classes from September. Nia is great because it is physical, but there is not as much jumping as in Zumba. Ballet is a real dark horse — you think you’re just pointing your toes and doing the odd turn, but you will be amazed at how tight your body (especially your bum) feels after a class. Belly dancing has beautiful music that will have you shaking your hips like Shakira and I always recommend that everyone who does dance or sport should balance it with a yoga class. Physical exercise is known for shortening muscles and yoga works wonders to keep you flexible and gives your muscles a good stretch. Tight muscles equal injuries!
Tell us a little bit about the partnership with Patricia Lewis for the Vooma! woorkout DVD? How did it start? Patricia started coming to our Zumba classes! She fell in love with it and has always loved dancing and wanted to bring an element of dance exercise into her fitness DVD.
What makes Vooma different to Zumba? Zumba classes rely on the instructor cueing the moves, shouting out what’s coming next and overly exaggerating movements so the class can keep up. Zumba should always consist mostly of Latin-inspired steps and, of course, Latin music features strongly. In the Vooma! DVD we have drawn on our dance backgrounds and have included lots of contemporary/jazz dance moves (Chantelle even made us include her favourite modern dance move from back in her heyday) and we also tried to bring in some real South African flavour. Each routine has a theme and we’ve matched it with our outfits and movements and that is very different to Zumba. Zumba is a franchise; it follows a strict pattern and you only ever wear Zumba apparel. The Vooma! DVD is more like eight mini music videos that will have you moving and grooving around your house, working up a sweat to Patricia’s awesome songs.
It was released at the end of August! What has the response been and are people eager to take home Vooma! – will you be converting it to a class at Sugardance or is it a home workout? People have been contacting me to ask when it’s due for release, so that’s great. And many are not even people from Ballito! We always pack on a few extra kilos in winter and this DVD is a fun way to get back into shape in the comfort of your own home. Not everyone can get to exercise after work and fitness DVDs bridge this gap. The Vooma! DVD is particularly good as it’s a well-rounded package. Part 1: Strengthen and Tone with Jenni Rivet (well-known for her work with Princess Diana). Part 2: Sure Slim diet plan. Patricia is a Sure Slim ambassador and saw amazing results after following its blood type diet. Part 3: Dance cardio with Sugardance instructors. Patricia has lots of fans and they are eager to see her dancing to some of her most popular tracks. She lost over 10 kg by eating smart and keeping fit and she wants to share this with the public.