Try Ballroom and Latin in a land of luxury
Words Helen Brown
It’s January and, somewhat depressingly, it’s time to start thinking about working off those mince pies. But a health kick shouldn’t involve a slavish slog in the gym if the very thought fills you with dread. Instead, the Karen Hardy Dance Studios, positioned on the elegant waterfront of Imperial Wharf, offers one of the most exhilarating and effective ways to gain fitness and lose weight. Established in 2008, by Karen Hardy and husband, Conrad Murray, the studio greets you with luxury and glamour the moment you walk through the doors.
The venue is completely unique. “There is no other studio like us,” Karen explained, “We’re the only private members club of it’s kind. There’s a champagne bar where you can relax and then we invite you onto the dancefloor. And hopefully you’ll enjoy the experience,” she said.
Karen recognises that people have increasingly busy livelihoods today and consequently the studio does not run the standard group sessions. “It’s all private and bespoke. People book lessons one on one,” Karen said, “We can move as slow or quick as anyone wants to go.”
You need only look at the incredible transformation effect Strictly has on its contestants to see that the benefits of dance are endless. A quick-footed Latin routine can burn around 300 calories an hour as well as working all of your major muscle groups. Whereas a quick step, such as the jive will give you a full-on cardio effect and the step movement of the Cha Cha Cha is like riding a bike. “Right across the board, the benefits are huge” Karen tells us, “Even if you did a slow dance, you could relate that to yoga almost. You don’t have to be doing full on cardio to get rewards,” she says. “We see the weight loss, we see the fitness. We have olympians panting at the end of a quick step or a tango,” Karen continued.
Members will work with their own Personal Dance Planners to work out individual aspirations and a goal. Whether for fitness, or you want to get to your daughter’s wedding and just be able to do a wedding waltz, according to Karen “the studio is very clear that every member that walks in, is bespoke, an individual person with individual goals.”
The advantages to taking up Ballroom and Latin aren’t just physical. Karen’s classes are a release for the human body from the vastly growing tech-era we live in. As phones aren’t allowed on during classes, each session is a form of escapism. “They can just step in our doors, shut the world out for an hour, and then go back into their world,” Karen said, “We can’t change people’s busy lives, but it’s an escapism for as little or as long as they want,” she continues.
“People get in the gym or they’ll get on a bike and use the same old muscles, but there are so many benefits to dance and you’re having fun while you are doing it,” Karen says. Some fitness mantras are easier to get behind than others and none could be more motivating than a spin around the dance floor in a world of total luxury and glamour.