Going for a run or to the gym after the Christmas festivities is not everyone’s idea of fun. Corazon Miller looked at some quirkier options to get moving. Today it’s exercise Brazilian style.

A number of classes have cropped up around the country catering to aspiring dancers with classes such as ballet for adults, ballroom, contemporary, hip hop and Latin styles.

A lesser-known style - Zouk-Lambada, once a purely social pursuit - has grown in popularity in the past two to three years and is now on offer at a number of studios.

Studio 7 teacher Dharshana Ratnayake said it offered aspiring dancers a slower style that was an evolution of the faster-paced Brazilian dance - Lambada.

"Lambada had fast, big movements, people didn't last for very long," he said. "Zouk is more controlled and safe for everybody to do ... that way people can dance until they are very old."


In the first workshop I tried, at the central Auckland studio, I certainly noticed the difference in pace from other Latin dance styles, like Salsa or the cha-cha.

Zouk gave a nice break from the faster-paced salsa patterns where I'm often at risk of being thrown around the dance floor and twirled to the point of giddiness.

Commonly danced to the four-four beat of a pop song, Zouk's slow, sliding steps allowed for my upper body to just relax into the movement and go with the flow.

The biggest challenge I've found when partner-dancing was that unlike solo styles of dance, it required letting the man take the lead and "drive".

A failure to do so would often result in trodden toes, stuttered movement and an occasional collision with the neighbouring couple.

Despite the odd incident the slower pace was enjoyable and I found the movements akin to contemporary [ballet] dancing in the way you had to relax into the movement and allow connections and the lack thereof to enable flow of movement.

While Zouk did little to get my cardio levels pumping, I found at the very least it would be a more fun option than a casual stroll around the neighbourhood.

Studio 7 teacher Shantini Oorjitham said it was also a good way to meet people while getting in some exercise.

"It's difficult to go up to people, having awkward first conversations. But you approach someone, have a dance and feel like you know them."

She said health and fitness-wise it offered a good alternative to the gym after a long day at work.

"You get to express yourself, connect with other people and shut off from the real world for a bit.

"If I go out for an hour of social dancing I wake up the next day and I feel my abs, feel my muscles ... feel my legs. I go away feeling like I've done a yoga or Pilates class."

The verdict: Offers the chance for busy city workers to get some socialising done while upping the daily step quota.


• Brazilian-style slow partner dance.
• Led by the body, the hips, legs, arms and shoulders.
• Rhythm often described as a slow-quick-quick step.