CHENNAI: Anyone crossing a shopping mall on a Saturday evening wouldn’t find the crowd and the excitement beyond the gates unusual. But March 20 witnessed a different kind of energy at the Phoenix MarketCity, with over 400 Chennaiites swaying their hips and twerking to tunes.
A one-of-a-kid Zumba War was organised where instructors competed against each other on stage and at the same time, hundreds of people from below followed their steps for two hours straight. By the end, zumba pro Zes Sucheta Pal declared the winning teams.
While watching the zumba enthusiasts lose it on the dance floor from the sidelines, we didn’t fail to notice the variety of people that took part; little children, full-of-life teenagers, fitness enthusiasts with their shoes, workout clothes and probably glucose mixed in their water bottles, and adults including mothers. A few people caught our attention for various reasons. Keeping them in sight till the end, City Express watched the ‘war’ unfold as the energy increased as fast as the water vanished from the bottles with sweat-ridden bodies gyrated to foot-tapping music.
Finally, when the music stopped and winners were announced, we made our way to the ones we had been watching:
The Modern Family
It was inspiring to see the 50-plus-year-old Vaithiyanathan dance. While some paused to catch a breath, he danced his heart out, along with his wife, Kala Vaithyanathan, and their 15-year-old son, Sudarshan. The trio started attending Zumba classes a year ago and hasn’t stopped since. “We are over 50 years old. I had health issues and decided I should go for some fitness classes. It so happened that I picked Zumba. My husband and son joined me soon after,” says Kala, as she pulls her instructor Raj towards her. “I owe my energy, my happiness and my health to him. Zumba was the best thing that happened to my family and me,” she smiles.
Like Mother, Like Daughter
There were kids who jumped up and down or just swayed their hips, but Dripti kept to the beat and followed the steps alongside her mother. What tugged our heart was that she was just three. Music had stopped and she ran back to her mother, Divya Natarajan, a zumba instructor herself. She got her certification in July 2015 and teaches at Heart Throb gym. She said her daughter was her biggest critic. “She would tell me ‘mom you should jump a little more, mom this is not great’. She is amazing and loves Zumba, just like me,” she beamed.
Two friends were swaying next to each other, almost keeping up with the instructors on stage.
As zumba lovers who came to the mall for a happy, healthy evening, they said, “We are both working women. I started attending zumba classes last year and it was an amazing experience and I told her about it,” said Shruthi Anand pointing to her friend Manju Mathew.
“I joined two months ago and I’m so enthusiastic about it. I am a business woman and zumba is my stress buster. Looking forward to more!” exclaims Manju. We couldn’t agree more…after all, what’s better than having a friend dance with you?