Cheerobics and BTB Bounce: testing out two new exercise options in Abu Dhabi

The classes are offered at Marina Square Building 7’s fitness room and at Bodytree Studio

BTB Bounce instructor Anya Tarasiuk. Photo credit: Luma Photography UAE
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Hamsa Rakem answers one of my most burning questions about Cheerobics over the phone, before I even ask. "I do supply the pom poms," she explains. A friend launched the plucky workout in Egypt in 2013, and it was so popular that Rakem vowed she would be the first person to bring it to the UAE. After more than a year of remote study, passing two exams and getting back in shape after giving birth to the second of her two children, she was finally able to start offering classes at Abu Dhabi's Marina Square this month.

Cheerobics was created in 2011 by Jessica Zoo, a long-time cheerleading enthusiast in the United Kingdom, author of the cheerleading performance book Body Before Skill: Sports Performance for Cheerleading and creative director for the London Cheerleaders.

For those of us who never considered being a cheerleader, weren’t cool or co-ordinated enough to make the squad, or who lacked access to the sport altogether, Rakem’s class can be a fun way to experience a lost symbol of youth while also working up a sweat.

While I didn't necessarily agree with the woman I spoke to in the elevator on the way to the class, who said: "I like it because I can follow along, not like Zumba", that could just be because I lack co-ordination for most types of exercise. Cheerobics is a flexible workout, which can be modified to be done low-impact or torqued up with lots of jumping. You only need shoes, basic fitness, and remember, no one will make fun of you. The class offers a full-body workout that includes squats, lunges and a couple of grapevines.

Even though I felt ridiculous and out-of-step throughout most of the hour-long session, I couldn't help but smile, foisting and shaking those blue and white pom-poms with gusto.

Rakem incorporated the pom-poms throughout the workout, and focusing on them made it all feel a little less like exercise. "It's not hard, but my arms are sore," says one woman during a brief break partway through the workout. "It's because of the pom-poms," Rakem replies, and later explains: "It's different from any other normal aerobics class. You are holding them, so you have to keep your arms stretched, by default. It's making every muscle in your arms work."

BTB Bounce, meanwhile, is a new class at Abu Dhabi’s Bodytree Studio that incorporates the trendiest of fitness equipment – the mini trampoline – into an all-in-one cardio and toning session designed to create a lean, toned look.

The staff and Nadia Sehweil are behind a range of BTB (Bodytree Body) classes, including Shred and Dance Cardio. Several of the women had children, and wanted the kind of workout that would help them get back in shape without bulking up.

Rebounding, as jumping on the mini-trampoline is called, is hot right now due to many purported benefits, which include boosting lymphatic drainage, and improving digestion and mood, all the while being easier on the ankles and knees than other high-impact forms of exercise.

The instructor, Anya Tarasiuk, was a total professional and incredibly motivating. My biggest fear was falling off my trampoline, but I felt safe in the hands of Sehweil and fellow BTB co-creator Anissa Lickrish, who were both on keen lookout to make sure everyone was placing their feet properly.  

The cardio portions were interspersed with toning, which incorporated strap-on wrist weights, 1.5 kilogram hand weights and also used the trampolines to lean on, while we did an assortment of leg lift angles. I started to get tired on the second-to-last song, which was a cardio portion, and a bit nauseous, for a few minutes after the whole thing wrapped. But overall, it was a tough workout that was a lot of fun.

Cheerobics classes are at Marina Square Building 7's fitness room on the third floor. Classes are Dh50. For more information call 056 600 7457.

BTB Bounce classes, which are Dh90 per class or can be purchased as a part of a package, are offered at Bodytree Studio on Tuesdays from 8.45am to 9.45am. Go to

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