Every year, during October, Bahrain turns pink for breast cancer awareness month. Plenty of interesting activities and promotions – ranging from golfing tournaments to Harley rides to Zumba classes – are popping up all over the island, and The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain is at the forefront, thanks to its Community Footprints initiative.
You’ll spot symbolic pink flags along the iconic driveway, leading up to the hotel, as well as various donation boxes around the resort, and retail items stamped with the Think Pink ribbon. They’ll even kick off official Think Pink Bahrain festivities for the month with a pool party at Overlook. What we’re most interested in, however, is taking place all month at The Royal Sporting Club ladies gym – a series of ‘Pink Party’ Zumba classes designed to get the ladies of Bahrain active, as well as raise funds and awareness for such an important cause. This all leads up to the ultimate ‘Zumbathon’ in early November – a three-hour extravaganza for fitness enthusiasts and do-gooders.
For those who don’t already know, Zumba was invented in Colombia by dancer and choreographer Beto Perez. One fortuitous day in the mid ‘90s, Beto forgot all of his music for the aerobics class and so he had no choice but to use whatever he had on him. Teaching the class with only his traditional Latin salsa and merengue music, he found it was a massive success. And the rest is history. Zumba has spread across 180 countries, 200,000 locations and reached 15 million people, and now comprises of hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue and mambo choreography.
My experience of Zumba, before this session, has been of my flat mate and me making idiots of ourselves in the living room, trying to follow along to the hand-me-down DVD, which our equally uncoordinated friend left behind. As we attempted to shake in time with the music, we would inevitably get our ‘intense core work out’ from laughing so hard. So, going into this particular class for Time Out Bahrain, I feel a little apprehensive about my abilities (and the fact that I haven’t worked out in months). Yet, walking into the room, I am taken aback by the variety of students. There are both men and women, young and old, of every shape and size. A very different image than what was on my DVD.
As the class starts, you’re just thrown straight in with no time to contemplate what anyone else is doing or how they look. You just have to go for it. The teacher takes you through a warm-up dance, by the end of which I’m sweating. By 20 minutes I’m seriously questioning whether the A/C still works. By 30 minutes I’m wondering how I’m still standing up and how we had done so much in so little time. By 40 minutes I’m keenly aware of how out of shape I am. But by 45 minutes I get this rush of energy that makes me understand why people exercise. And by the end of the class, I’m ready to sign up for the ‘Zumbathon’.
All the while we’re led confidently by New Zealander Jeanette ‘Jen’ Haua, an experienced personal trainer and former Les Mills group fitness instructor, who has bounds of energy. She is obviously passionate about what she does, which makes you believe you can keep going, especially as she takes the time to pre-teach some core dance moves every time there is a change of music genre. I am personally intimidated by reggaeton, but when you follow it up with some footloose I’m all over it. Jen has clearly thought each session through, and smoothly keeps up momentum with a variety of interesting music.
I might have been apprehensive at first but I leave the class feeling much more confident and itching for another session. So give it a go, enjoy some dancing, and give to a very worthy cause.
Pink Party Zumba classes are on Sundays and Wednesdays, 7pm-8pm until November 6. They’re open to the public (ladies only) and cost a minimum donation of BD1 per person. All proceeds are being donated to Think Pink Bahrain.
The Zumbathon takes place on November 6, 5pm-8pm. It is BD5 net per person. The Ritz Carlton Bahrain, Seef (1758 5512).
The Royal Spa at The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain has a special pink treatment on offer this month during opening hours. It starts with an exfoliation of raspberry and oatmeal, followed by a massage with rose oil to help lock and seal moisture in. Your nails are then polished with your choice of pink hue, then you finish up with a refreshing pink grapefruit juice – a super fruit packed with antioxidants known to help prevent the formation of cancer-causing compounds. It costs BD50 for 80 minutes and 50 percent of the proceeds will be donated to Think Pink Bahrain.
Open daily 9am-10pm.