(I started this post before I broke my rib so it’s looking like this is the last of the fitness posts for the next 6 weeks or so…)
I wasn’t expecting to find any Zumba at all in Bali and had resigned myself to a couple weeks of yoga as my physical activity. Don’t get me wrong – I always feel great after doing yoga and I know how good it is for me, but I just don’t enjoy like I do dancing. I’m not terribly flexible and even when I was doing yoga more regularly (back in my bellydancing days), I never felt like I got any better at it.
Yoga at The Amala
Our first hotel was in Seminyak and offered 90 minute classes twice a day for the reasonable price of 50,000 rph (approx $4). It was a lovely studio with huge windows, beautiful dark wood floors, and lots of new yoga mats and blocks.
My first class was Vinyasa Flow with Nita. She was very friendly and did a great job guiding 4 of us through the poses, speaking alternately in English and Indonesian. Because it was a small class, we got a lot of personal attention/helpful adjustments. I was thoroughly fatigued by the end and sore for the following days.
I also went to a Hatha class with Budi. He took the time to check with everyone’s experience levels and adjust the poses accordingly. There was a Japanese girl who claimed this was only her second yoga class ever, but either she didn’t understand the question or was just naturally bendy as she was far better than anyone else in the room. (While I was struggling with the basics, Budi kept telling her how to increase the difficulty!)
Bali Fitness in Seminyak
This gym did offer Zumba once or twice a week with drop-in pricing, but not on the days I was in Seminyak so I didn’t get to try them out. Their website schedule wasn’t current, so best to contact them in advance if you’re hoping to attend one.
Zumba in Ubud
Ani teaches at Ubud Fitness three times a week. The drop-in rate was around $5 USD, and the gym was really responsive when I messaged them on Facebook to check the schedule. The studio was open air, so even though there was a nice breeze and plenty of fans, I was definitely extra-sweaty by the end of class. It also meant we had the occassional chicken checking out our moves.
Ani is a tiny little firecracker with boundless energy. Her class was great all around – her cueing was fantastic, the routines were easy to follow, and she was always helping adjust where people stood, since the room could get quite full.
And on Valentine’s Day, she brought in these treats for everyone:
She offered Zumba Toning once a week, where you use the maraca-like weights for part of the class. They felt light initially but after several songs you could definitely tell they were working! She provides the weights so you just need to show up and shake them!
The other days she teaches Zumba to a packed room of (mostly) expats. It was always a great time! There was usually one or two other instructors in the class, and Ani was so gracious to give us each a chance to lead a song. (Her class was particularly excited about my routine to Bottoms Up, so hopefully the California-style booty shaking will continue once I am gone.)
She has a very active community on Facebook and everyone in the class was so welcoming – I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it if you’re in Ubud!
Zumba At Roam
There was an underutilized, gorgeous yoga deck at the place where we were staying, Roam, so I decided to offer a (free) Zumba class for any interested residents.
7 brave folks showed up for the first class (including 2 guys!). The humidity was oppressive – I was amazed that 4 people stuck through to the sweaty, sweaty end. So many of them had seen me working out on my own (with headphones) so it was fun to crank up the stereo and have a proper class.
When we returned for our second stay, several folks wanted to do it again. Zumba is always more fun with friends, so I held a few more classes. I was impressed with how willing the guys were to go for it!
One of our roomies took this timelapse of the last few songs – look at them work it!
When I wasn’t teaching a class or going to Ani’s, I would use the yoga deck to work on new choreography or just rock out on my own. It was amazing to have so much space to use, plus I could jump right in the refreshing pool afterwards!
Balinese Dance Class
To my untrained eye, Balinese dance looks similar to Odissi (Indian Temple Dancing), with angled body positions, dramatic eye movements, and expressive hands. Ubud Studio offered classes once a week for about $7.50, so I decided to give it a shot. (They also had a lot of partner dancing classes like salsa, bachata and kizomba.)
The studio was on the top floor of what seemed like a half-abandoned building (the ground floor was occupied by a pretty shabby-looking gym). The dance floor was lovely, though, with pristine floors, lots of mirrors, and a nice stereo.
I was the only person in the class that day. While it was amazing to get a private lesson, it also meant there was no disguising my cluelessness. We literally spent the first 40 minutes just trying to get my body into the default standing position, which required more flexibility in my hamstrings than I had. I did do better at the basic walk, so we managed to do the tiniest little combo before the time was up.
The instructor was very good and a lovely dancer – though her English was great, she also wasn’t shy about giving me hands-on adjustments. She told me she had been studying this dance since she was very little, including spending an hour a day with her arms wrapped over a pole to try and open her chest and improve her carriage. Suffice to say, I have new respect for how challenging this dance is!
All in all, it was very easy to find classes in Ubud, which seems especially set up to handle travellers. Whether you want to do acro-yoga, ecstatic dance, Zumba, salsa or just meditate, there are plenty of classes available!