It’s amazing how far the fitness industry has come from the days when Jane Fonda urged us to “feel the burn” (and I accompanied my mum to the local leisure centre for an hour of Pop Mobility once a week!). Nowadays, thanks to the explosion of classes – from cycling with an Ibiza vibe to yoga in a hammock – there are myriad ways to tone and tighten. But a straw poll of my friends and colleagues backs up my assertion that great music and having fun is what keep us motivated – hardcore workout flies when the beats are Beyoncé-good. So when I found out that a studio in Chiswick was one of the first to offer DD (Diverse Dance) Mix – a 45-minute dance-meets-aerobics class choreographed by prima ballerina Darcey Bussell and creative director/choreographer of The Voice, Nathan Clarke, which promises to burn 500-800 calories if you really step up – I couldn’t wait to get my groove on…
Filling up my bottle at the water fountain in the bright, airy Personal Best Fitness Studios in W4, I already feel buoyant as spring – and the mix of women entering the studio seem equally zingy in their brightly coloured trainers and workout gear. As the warm-up music fills the studio, we take our places and stretch and limber up to what sounds like strains of The Nutcracker – I imagine this is Darcey’s input, and while I enjoy the balletic moves it’s a shame I have all the grace of a baby elephant. As we are urged to channel our inner ballerina by ex-dancer Anny, our instructor, I quietly hope the choreography isn’t going to be too challenging.
Anny explains that the idea behind DD Mix is to provide a flavour of dance moves from around the world and throughout the eras, and says it has been designed to encourage all levels of fitness to get moving and enjoy exercising. Darcey and Nathan are hoping to roll out DD Mix classes around the country as well as in schools. Based on the popularity of shows such as Strictly Come Dancing, they believe that it’s the perfect way to keep all ages fit, trim and motivated.
I needn’t worry about the choreography – before I know it, there’s an Austin Powers vibe and the music has me hopping from side to side doing “the pony” like a teeny bopper and executing a mean hand-jive in sync with the line of women next to me.
Before each routine, Anny shows us the more complicated moves coming up but tells us that if we can’t pick them up straight away, just to focus on keeping moving and enjoying the beat. With the pressure off, I really relax and, despite not being able to grasp the more intricate steps, get the vague gist and start to have fun. The atmosphere is high octane.
The songs are short so we constantly switch up the routines. I feel like collapsing in a heap of sweat as we zip through them – my arms especially tremble during the “turning off the light bulbs” section of a Bollywood-inspired high-impact routine. Things cool down slightly while we “walk like an Egyptian” before the pace picks up again for a Rocky anthem that sees us simulating “jumping ropes”, punching the air and generally unleashing our fighting spirit!
A quirky Charleston segues into some spirited lassoing moves for a cheeky line-dancing number before our hard-working bodies get to bring the ballet back for a calming finale. We do deep stretches and lunges while Swan Lake rings out – I feel as if I’m on the set of the movie Black Swan.
The Bottom Line
DD Mix is a winning combination of high-impact aerobic moves and fun, not too challenging dance steps. The catchy music and booty-shaking moves got my heart pumping, my muscles working and my face smiling – this was a seriously upbeat workout. I haven’t heard such an eclectic set of tunes in one class for a long time – and rarely have I felt such a warm feeling of camaraderie among the women in a class. Could DD Mix be the new Zumba?
Spa Junkie is the founder of FaceGym. She pays for all her own travel, accommodation and therapies. Follow her on Instagram @spajunkiechronicles.