Dance style takes world by storm

A Sh’bam class. The dance fitness class is quickly gaining popularity. One can burn over 500 calories per class. Photo/File
A Sh’bam class. The dance fitness class is quickly gaining popularity. One can burn over 500 calories per class. Photo/File 

As the Zumba dance fitness craze catches on in Kenya, the world is welcoming a new dance workout.

Sh’bam is the newest entrant to the world of dance fitness with chart topping hits in the background. Fitness experts in the west are calling it the new it thing for 2013.

Similar to Zumba, Sh’bam is a combination of dance and aerobic moves that give the body a full workout, with the less conventional music in the background. The distinction point between the two is the genre of music used.

While Zumba music has undertones of rhumba, lingala, reggaeton and heavy Latin American influence, Sh’bam uses modern hip hop, pop and other dance topping charts of the day.

The dancers move to the latest beats from Usher, Adele, Kanye West or whoever is hitting the charts currently in either their original form or in an upbeat remix.

Mike Bondo, popularly known as Magic Mike, after the main character in the movie with the same title, is a dance fitness instructor. He says some of these clients in his dance classes, mainly Zumba, come for fitness while others come to socialize and have fun.

For him January is the peak season because people generally come in to reduce fat and lose weight gained during the December holiday.

“Some come to work out, others come in to socialize, they come in to meet friends and new faces,” he explains.

“Not everyone comes into the dance classes to be fit unlike gym it’s not all about keeping fit, at times it is just a trend that attracts people,” he says.


Zumba was introduced in Kenya two years ago by Elizabeth Baregu who had just come back from the US. Since then, it has gained popularity with about nine licensed instructors offering about 54 classes in the country.

The cost of each class can start from Sh500 upwards, depending on the gym. There are different classes from beginners to more aggressive classes as well as toning ones, to suit one’s needs.

Though Zumba has gained popularity in the country, and still growing, Sh’bam is yet to gain a movement locally.

A typical Sh’bam class takes 45 minutes. The workout starts with a ten minute warm up to wake those muscles. This is followed by 35 minutes of a dance inspired cardio workout.

The whole workout consists of twelve different pop, chart and hip hop tracks. The instructors introduce and take participants through basic steps, which are infused with style and energy.

Dance fitness has been gaining popularity over the years ranging from salsa classes to Zumba and now Sh’bam. They are most effective for weight loss as one gets to burn about 500 calories per session, in a moderately intense dance workout.

Other than burning calories dance classes also improve coordination and help firm up muscle, without the bulk of weight lifting.

With twelve different tracks per work out, Sh’bam keeps you in tune with the latest music and eccentric dance moves.

“You learn steps for different form of dance so you enjoy yourself and you do not even notice that you are working out,” says Mike who knows about the recent craze but does not teach it.

“When taking a dance fitness class, the effectiveness is dependent on what your goals are.”

A New Zealand company, Les Mills International, is the proprietor behind Sh’bam. The company is one of the leading providers of choreographed dance fitness music and classes, distributed to health clubs or online.


According to Les Mills website on a typical 45 minute session of dance inspired cardio workout, you burn an average of 506 calories. Over and beyond the weight loss, the workout aids in toning and improved coordination.

Certification for Sh’bam is done by Les Mills, who through the 14,000 affiliated clubs globally offer the training in the necessary areas.