You know when you’ve gotten through a dreary day at work by dreaming of the explosive, waking-up-the-neighbours kind of noisy, toe-curling sex you’re definitely having with your partner in the night? But for the regular couple, even the most vivid boudoir fantasies last for all of three to seven minutes; that’s the average duration of intercourse according to a study by Canadian and American sex therapists. Throw in a few more minutes for foreplay and post-coital cuddling, and you’re well on your way to becoming another median sex statistic. But is that enough?
One of the great things about being in a committed relationship is having someone to haul to the gym to sweat it out with you, and keep the love from turning into handles. Research shows that coupling up actually works. Exercising with someone can double your performance and keep you from quitting — 94 per cent of couples stick with their fitness programmes if they’re in it together. One great form of such a workout is dancing. “Almost as good as foreplay!” says choreographer Sandip Soparrkar. “As a form of exercise, it helps you lose weight, tone muscle and improve stamina. And, it definitely increases intimacy because dance, particularly ballroom and Latin American forms, is very sensuous.”
According to Soparrkar, the major benefit for couples is the complete attention they give each other while dancing. “You can’t look at the phone or ignore your partner,” he says. “For that one hour, you’re moving against each other, in close proximity. How can you not feel sexually charged?” It also works as a great mental exercise for concentration because you can’t multi-task; you can only dance. “It’s like taking a one-hour holiday, away from all the worries of the outside world,” says Soparrkar. Here are some great options that will leave you hot and revved up for more.
1. Pole dancing
Did you know that there’s an active petition drive to make pole dancing an Olympic sport? That’s because in addition to being an extremely sensual activity, it is also an incredible full-body workout. Pole dancing combines resistance training and cardio, and builds muscle strength like few exercise routines can — imagine the amount of strength, flexiblity and body control required to climb a narrow metal bar. The good news is that there’s no ‘right age’ or fitness level needed before you start. Natasha Wang is a world champion who started training at 29 with no prior experience in dance or gymnastics. Greta Pontarelli is another incredible example — she’s 63 and began only a few years ago. If you’re too shy to learn it in a group, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Exotic and Pole Dancing Illustrated by Wendy Reardon is a great resource to get you started at home.
Red flags: Pole burn is a real thing, since skin contact with the pole is a must to create a strong grip. At the beginner level, you will probably experience raw feet from climbing up. Persist.
Calories burnt: Up to 700 per hour.
Join a class:
Pulse-The Studio, Mumbai. Tel: +91 98208 71257
Dance 360, Bengaluru. Tel: +91 80656 50360
2. Belly dancing
This sexy dance style dates back to 14th Century BC, and is fast becoming a preferred workout for women around the world — especially for those whose fitness goal is a tight mid-section and strong back. It engages muscle groups in the abdomen, pelvis, trunk and spine. During the routine, the hip drops, circles, figure-eights and shimmies put the joints and ligaments in the lower back and hip through a full range of gentle, repetitive motions. When done properly, it tips the pelvis forward in a neutral position, preventing lower back problems. This makes it a great workout for people who have desk jobs and a largely sedentary lifestyle. Plus, it isn’t confined to young or skinny types. In fact, most women with body image issues learn to love themselves and develop confidence while learning how to belly dance.
Red flags: It’s a low-impact exercise routine — not for those who want to quickly burn calories and drop kilos. Also, while regular belly dancing develops strong abs, it does not give you a six-pack.
Calories burnt: About 300 per hour.
Join a class:
Veve Dance, Mumbai. Tel: +91 98204 55580
Banjara School of Dance, Delhi. Tel: +91 9899851475
Sana Dance Studio, Bengaluru. Tel: +91 98864 66746
3) Latin-American Dancing
Latin-American dance is a great alternative to traditional exercise — mostly because it’s as effective as a complete cardio workout and a whole lot more fun. Typically partner activities, the routines are fast-paced but sexy, and the movements cover a wide range of twists and turns that thoroughly tone the body. These dances work out different muscle groups, especially the abs, hips, thighs and buttocks. The most popular Latin-American dance styles are Salsa, Cha-cha-cha, Mambo and Samba.
Red flags: Go from slower forms to slightly faster to very fast and then cool down the same way — like aerobics. Begin with slow routines like Foxtrot, Rumba and Tango, then move to Cha-cha-cha and finally, Jive, Salsa and Samba. Then, reverse the order.
Calories burnt: 300 to 400 an hour for a beginner, while a seasoned dancer can burn up to 600 calories in a session.
Join a class:
Sandip Soparrkar S Ballroom Studio, Mumbai. Tel: +91 98207 76423
Latin Dance India, Bengaluru. Tel: +91 94835 06125
The Danceworx, Delhi. Tel: 011 4052 0111
Photograph: Olivier Rose