Anupam Nayak: One Of The Shining Stars Of The Zumba Fitness Movement In Odisha!
Anupam Nayak from Odisha has successfully grooved his way into becoming one of the shining stars of the Zumba Fitness movement that has taken both the dance and fitness freaks around the world by a storm. Trained in different dance forms like contemporary, jazz, salsa, belly dance and Bollywood, Anupam says he was drawn to this Latin inspired dance fitness programme from his very first encounter with it in 2013.
Nayak who became popular as a dance mentor in Odisha after appearing on reality shows like ‘Dance Challenge’ (2012), ‘Little Star Kids’ (2013) and ‘Jhoom Odisha Jhoom- Ethara Nachibe Maa’ (2015) on Odia television has now brought laurels to the state by becoming the first Odia to achieve the status of an international Zumba trainer.
He shares his dancing experience with MCL in an exclusive conversation. Excerpts from the interview:
Did you always want to become a choreographer in life?
Dance has always been my love ever since I was a child. Studies never interested me and I too wasn’t really good at it. With no internet during those days, I would watch Bollywood songs on TV and hone my dancing moves. As I grew up, my attraction towards dance gradually turned into an obsession and it was then that I decided to make it my career. Later in 2005, I moved to Delhi to get trained as a professional dancer. For five years, I learnt dancing from institutes like Delhi Dancing, Yankee Rockers and Rass while simultaneously teaching other students there. Thereafter I returned to Bhubaneswar in 2010 and joined as a Salsa teacher in Infosys.
What has been your inspiration behind becoming a dancer?
My inspiration came from Bollywood dancing. Besides that I have always admired Prabhu Deva and he has been an inspiration for me throughout.
There are many fitness centres in the city. So, what led you to start Anu’s Dance Freak (ADF)?
When I came back to Bhubaneswar from Delhi in 2009, I introduced the modern dance forms of salsa, contemporary, jazz and belly dance for the first time in Odisha. I wanted building an academy for those wanting to learn these new dance forms and that was how I started ADF. Now, ADF also offers Zumba classes and is being managed by some of my students.
When was your first encounter with Zumba and why did you choose to be a Zumba instructor?
Back in 2013, I had attended an event in Delhi and it was there that I tried out Zumba for the first time. Twenty minutes into doing Zumba, I was totally exhausted. I was quite surprised since I never felt tired even after long hours of dancing. But Zumba was a lot different!
I found it was possibly one of the best formats for combining dance and fitness together. It was unique and I wanted to popularise this dance form among more people. That’s how I chose to be a Zumba instructor. I am lucky not only to be a leading Indian Zumba instructor but also the first Odia to go to USA and earn an international license and certification from Zumba Fitness (Zumba.com).
Currently, I hold five international Zumba licenses and am trying to obtain few more licenses too. I have also recently completed two more levels in Zumba- Zumba Gold and Zumba Kids successfully.
Who have been your mentors?
Sourav Soni and Ashish Sharma who trained me in Delhi and Irena Meletiou, Ann Saldi and Coco Qing in the USA have been my mentors. I am grateful to them for having shaped me as a dancer.
Tell us something about Zumba.
Many believe Zumba to be a dance form, whereas it is actually a fitness workout regime. Zumba is a Latin inspired fitness programme which incorporates dance forms like salsa, samba, cumbia, merengue, reggaeton, mambo along with squats and lunges. It also includes hip thrusts, shoulder shimmies, high intensity footwork and flailing hand movements.
Are there any criteria for learning Zumba?
There are no criteria on who can do Zumba. Nowadays since people, mostly youngsters and middle aged persons are more concerned about their fitness and physique, they feel attracted to take up Zumba. Even women, especially college going girls, working ladies and house wives are taking their fitness seriously, and so can be seen heading for Zumba training in more numbers. But this form of workout is not just restricted to the young; the old too can learn Zumba. To follow a perfect Zumba workout routine, fitness enthusiasts ought to perform Zumba for 30 minutes and then go ahead with cool-down exercise for another 15 minutes.
What are the health benefits of Zumba?
Many! Zumba enhances cardiovascular activity, increases stamina, gives strength and also helps in maintaining blood circulation properly. It helps you to lose weight, tones your body and makes you feel energetic. Zumba also contributes towards improving mental as well as physical conditions. It is not only for dancers; it is designed for everyone.
Is it necessary to hold a license to become a Zumba instructor?
Yes. Teaching Zumba without a proper license is illegal. Moreover, one should be fit while possessing a sound knowledge of the various dance forms incorporated in Zumba. Nine-hour training is given and those who pass in it are allowed for certification and can then obtain a Zumba license.
Did your family support you in pursuing a career in dancing?
I am very lucky to have parents who have always understood, supported and motivated me. Apart from parents, no other family member was in favour of my choice of career. But then after my marriage, my wife has always stood by me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. I owe my success to my parents and my wife.
What are your future plans?
There are a lot of things planned for execution. First, I will represent India at the Annual Zumba Convention 2017 to be held at Orlando, Florida in US as a Zumba instructor. This will perhaps be a milestone for Odisha as no one from the state has ever made it to this level.
Then, I have plans to blend folk dances of the state like Sambalpuri and Paika dance along with the Bollywood dance in a westernised way. I will train my students in this form because I find Americans are crazy about Bollywood and love Bollywood dance. I am also thinking of making a video on the ‘Rangabati’ song choreographed on Zumba as well as other forms of dance. Thereafter, post my training here in America, I have plans to impart Zumba as well as Bollywood training all across South Asia in the coming two or three years.