Rhythms Across The World 🌎
Take a gander at my multicultural dance fitness playlist!
I've been dancing for as long as I have known myself. I have danced competitively and even to have fun and alleviate stress. I mean, who doesn't like to dance? And I don't mean fancy Chris Brown moves; I mean anything that results in your body moving. As someone who doesn't like doing cardio in a gym and only jogs occasionally, my love for dancing became my creative outlet for achieving my fitness goals. It provides a full-body workout that burns approximately 250 calories in 3o minutes and also has other benefits. These include increased flexibility and balance, memory boosts, muscle endurance and improved mental health.
After being mandated to work from home, I naturally became less active and eventually lost my drive to workout. Every day, I would move from my bed to my desk and back to my bed. So, you can imagine the significant reduction in my commute to work. I knew I had to eventually figure out a way to become more active, especially after I gained quarantine weight (I know many of you can relate).
About four months into the quarantine, I came up with the idea to exercise by dancing but not in the way I usually do because I needed an extra push. Instead, I selected a few songs from different countries and imagined I was in each country as I listened to the corresponding song. I love to travel and experience other cultures. Since I also couldn't travel outside of the country, I loved the way that this activity made me feel like I was on a trip around the world. For that reason, I made it my new fitness routine, only changing the selection of songs from my playlist below each time I worked out. This routine is ideal for persons who are always on the go and need a short yet effective workout. I typically warm-up before I delve into my exercise routine by using this video which is only five minutes long.
Now let me take you on a cultural journey across the globe with a few songs totalling twenty minutes that I extracted from my playlist. Since most of us are unable to hop on a plane and are trying to stay healthy in these unprecedented times, this seems like the next best way to visit a few countries while breaking a sweat. I hope you can keep up!
Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels by Todrick Hall
So for today's imaginative trip around the world, I've decided to start in Texas for some good old finger-licking Texas BBQ. I guess you can't expect better from a foodie! But why are we starting our calorie-burning trip in Texas? It's also the hometown of the singer of our first song, Todrick.
Are you ready to release some endorphins and exercise that Texas BBQ right out of your system, or in this case, your mind? Well, I couldn't think of a better way to kick things off than with this viral hit song that makes me feel like a diva and gives me hella inspiration. I mean if Todrick and his backup dancers can move with such graceful fluidity while wearing heels in the music video, then what's stopping me from busting a few moves in my sneakers? I won't lie to you, I tried to learn the choreography... and failed. I later decided that I was better off doing just about any wacky moves that came to mind as long as it increased my heart rate. The goal here isn't to audition for So You Think You Can Dance, but instead to have fun!
Ginza by J. Balvin
You've probably heard of the world-renowned coffee produced in Colombia from 100% arabica beans. However, we aren't here for a caffeine-induced high but rather to dance against the imaginary backdrop of the sophisticated architecture of Bogotá.
J Balvin is often referred to as the Prince of Reggaeton and is one of my favourite Latin singers. Reggaeton makes me feel very sexy and comfortable in the skin I am in. So, as someone who promotes body positivity, it is a given that I would include these empowering songs in my playlist. My favourite Reggaeton song, Ginza, accidentally got its name from an Instagram filter. However, Ginza is also the name of an entertainment district in Tokyo, so this is perhaps a twofer for me on my trip around the world. In this song, J Balvin tells me not to stop dancing (yes, me!), so how can I disappoint him? Instead, I work these hips and legs and sway to the beats of his song.
"Sigue bailando, mami, no pare..." 🎤🎶
Ginga by Ding Dong
I know you may be tempted to relax on the beach and sip a piña colada on this stop, but let's not lose focus yet. Grab a bottle of water, and let's burn some more calories!
I grew up in the Caribbean, so it's only fitting that I include Caribbean music in the mix, specifically from the country with the King of Dancehall, Beenie Man. Dancehall is a core part of the Jamaican culture and originated in the late 1970s. Its influence has grown exponentially since. This genre always gets me moving, but it also makes me quite nostalgic. Dancehall music brings me back to the days I'd go out with my friends and dance tirelessly for hours on end. Am I the only one who has stamina when it comes to dancing but can barely make it through ten minutes of running? No wonder it is my number one way to get some cardio exercise. In that vein, I chose this song because it was created by Ding Dong, who has invented many popular modern dance moves in Jamaica. These moves require the use of both legs and arms and are definitely a more appealing way to work out as opposed to mundanely running on a treadmill.
Kukere by Iyanya
Okay, I know what you are thinking; the footwork that is often paired with Afrobeats in Nigeria isn't the easiest. But, remember that we aren't entering a dance competition, and this is just about having fun and feeling good.
African dances are polyrhythmic and are often seen as a conversation between the dancer and the music. For this reason, I find that it is easy for me to get lost in the music and move effortlessly as it courses through my veins. Afrobeats is a natural mood enhancer for me and is often my go-to when I am having a bad day. If you're looking for a good leg and glute workout, then you're going to love this song or just about any Afrobeats song, to be honest. Kukere, a song which won the Hottest Single of the Year award at the 2013 Nigeria Entertainment Awards, is a breath of fresh air. Not only is it a hypnotic and groovy tune, but it is also a song that will have you exercising your facial muscles. There is no doubt that you won't be able to stop laughing and smiling from all the joy that this song will evoke within you.
South Korea 🇰🇷
Burn It Up by Wanna One
The next stop on our imaginative trip is Seoul, but not to go shopping in Myeongdong, at least not right now. Perhaps we can come back later for some duty-free shopping at the Lotte Department Store.
Wanna One was a South Korean boy band group that was only active for two years from 2017 until 2019. However, even though they've disbanded, their tunes are still emanating from my speakers when I dance around my apartment. Burn It Up is a feel-good K-pop song that snagged a spot on my playlist. Not to worry, the only thing that this song makes me want to burn is calories and a lot of them at that. K-pop is a kaleidoscopic phenomenon that has rapidly become popular across the globe and is often affiliated with dynamic dance moves. For our exercise routine, we won't necessarily be doing these high-level rehearsed dance moves. Well, that is unless you choose to. I prefer just to let the music guide me and do whichever moves come to mind.
High Rated Gabru by Guru Randhawa
We are almost done! After this song, we will do a quick cool down and then head to the closest PVR Cinema in Mumbai to catch the latest Bollywood movie.
I started listening to songs from Indian artistes over two years ago after expanding my friend circle to include more individuals from other cultures. One of my friends from India shared a few songs with me, and I got hooked on the high-energy Bollywood vibes. I swiftly downloaded a few of these songs on Spotify and added them to my liked songs and also my fitness playlist. This song, in particular, is my favourite and I'm sure I am not alone since the music video has gotten over 900 million views on YouTube. It would be nice to know what Guru is saying in the song, but that's just my curiosity speaking. Quite frankly, I dance to the beat of any music, not the lyrics, and this is no different.
We did it! We finally finished today's routine, and I hope it was as entertaining and fulfilling for you as it was for me. Let's wrap up with this cool down and body stretch video, which is as short as the warm-up and makes our full workout an even thirty minutes. This is a tiny portion of your day. I know working out can be tedious at times, and we like to use excuses such as not having enough time in our day just to avoid it. However, I find that being creative is a great way to make it more enjoyable. For me, it is channelling my love for dancing and travelling and marrying the two to create my ideal fitness routine.