Lucy Melton leads a class of mostly beginners in Zumba, the Latin-infused aerobics class.
Lucy Melton leads a class of mostly beginners in Zumba, the Latin-infused aerobics class.

Fitness test: Zumba your way to a healthier lifestyle

Every decade seems to bring a new fitness craze for the weight-conscious masses. With the 1980s came aerobics, complete with leotards, grapevines and leg-warmers. The 1990s saw the advent of the step workout, reinforced with home video offerings by the likes of the singer Cher, which was a personal favourite. And to open the 21st century we have had Zumba, a Latin-infused dance aerobics craze that is now practised in more than 75 countries, including the UAE, but about which I knew nothing before last week - aside from a few vague references by friends and colleagues.

Having spent the best part of three years boxing, I have all but mastered the art of rounding my shoulders and have lost a great deal of flexibility in the process. So it was with more than a touch of trepidation that I headed, lycra-free, towards the clubhouse at Al Murooj Rotana, Dubai, on Wednesday evening, for my first taste of Zumba with Core Direction's instructor Lucy Melton. "Don't be nervous, it's fun," the bubbly 23-year-old British dancer promised me before the class began. "The majority of the class is based around beginners and everyone at this class started quite recently. You don't need to be very co-ordinated. The steps are straightforward and it's quite repetitive so you'll pick it up."

I am told that Zumba was created by the celebrity fitness instructor "Beto" Perez, who forgot his music for an aerobics class he was taking in Colombia during the 1990s. He grabbed a tape from his rucksack containing a compilation of his favourite Latin salsa and merengue tunes and improvised his way through the class. It proved such a hit that he added several routines and it has gone on to be a global success, with more than six million people participating in classes every week at more than 50,000 locations.

Core Direction has been running its Zumba class for about six months from its Dubai Marina location, where at least 15 participants, including two men, are put through their paces at one of three weekly sessions, according to Melton. A fortnight ago it began two more classes - Mondays and Wednesdays - at Al Murooj Rotana residential complex, at the request of Dana Daher, a 35-year-old Canadian who lives at Al Murooj.

"I kept reading about the class online but I don't drive and so wanted something a bit closer," she said. "This is my sixth class and I'm really happy it's here. I like the music, it's fun and you feel like you're in a club dancing around." Daher hates the gym but wanted to break out of the sedentary lifestyle that is all too easy to slip into in the UAE. On this occasion there were nine of us - all women of various ages, nationalities and sizes - in the modest, stark white residential hall. To my relief, there were no mirrors.

As the clock struck seven we each found a space on the tiled floor and Melton led us through a straight-forward aerobic warm-up to relatively recent dance tracks. "I change the routines and the music every couple of weeks to keep it fresh for those who come regularly and to make it easier for newcomers to get involved," Melton explained. Having been put through some relatively simple, albeit energetic, dance moves with lots of arm stretching and knee-bending designed to get all the major muscle groups working, we began to make our way through some basic salsa, tango and merengue moves, complete with dramatic arm movements.

Counting to four became surprisingly difficult at one part of the routine as I tried to negotiate a leg kick and mini-trot within a four-beat while trying not to look like an extra in Disney's Fantasia, but Melton laughed and told us that when in doubt we should throw our arms and just have fun. Midway through we stopped and spent a track focusing on leg-strengthening, with a series of squats. I was warm and sweating by this point but as we giggled our way through the routine, sometimes messing up the timing but never particularly upset when we did, I never felt out of breath or as if I needed to stop.

This class is the perfect kick-start for anyone looking to start a healthier lifestyle who breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of joining a gym. When 8pm arrived and the cool-down began, I was genuinely surprised at how fast the hour had gone and, as quickly as they arrived, everyone headed home again.

Our legal columnist

Name: Yousef Al Bahar

Advocate at Al Bahar & Associate Advocates and Legal Consultants, established in 1994

Education: Mr Al Bahar was born in 1979 and graduated in 2008 from the Judicial Institute. He took after his father, who was one of the first Emirati lawyers

Brief scores:

Manchester City 2

Gundogan 27', De Bruyne 85'

Crystal Palace 3

Schlupp 33', Townsend 35', Milivojevic 51' (pen)

Man of the Match: Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace)

Top 10 most polluted cities
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  2. Ghaziabad, India
  3. Hotan, China
  4. Delhi, India
  5. Jaunpur, India
  6. Faisalabad, Pakistan
  7. Noida, India
  8. Bahawalpur, Pakistan
  9. Peshawar, Pakistan
  10. Bagpat, India
The Roundup : No Way Out

Director: Lee Sang-yong
Stars: Don Lee, Lee Jun-hyuk, Munetaka Aoki
Rating: 3/5


5pm: Al Falah – Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 1,200m; Winner: Bshara, Richard Mullen (jockey), Salem Al Ketbi (trainer)

5.30pm: Wathba Stallions Cup – Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,400m; Winner: AF Musannef, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

6pm: Al Dhafra – Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m; Winner: AF Mualami, Antonio Fresu, Abubakar Daud

6.30pm: Al Khaleej Al Arabi – Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m; Winner: Hawafez, Adrie de Vries, Abubakar Daud

7pm: Al Mafraq – Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m; Winner: JAP Almahfuz, Royston Ffrench, Irfan Ellahi

7.30pm: Al Samha – Handicap (TB) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m; Winner: Celestial Spheres, Patrick Cosgrave, Ismail Mohammed

Company info

Company name: Entrupy 

Co-founders: Vidyuth Srinivasan, co-founder/chief executive, Ashlesh Sharma, co-founder/chief technology officer, Lakshmi Subramanian, co-founder/chief scientist

Based: New York, New York

Sector/About: Entrupy is a hardware-enabled SaaS company whose mission is to protect businesses, borders and consumers from transactions involving counterfeit goods.  

Initial investment/Investors: Entrupy secured a $2.6m Series A funding round in 2017. The round was led by Tokyo-based Digital Garage and Daiwa Securities Group's jointly established venture arm, DG Lab Fund I Investment Limited Partnership, along with Zach Coelius. 

Total customers: Entrupy’s customers include hundreds of secondary resellers, marketplaces and other retail organisations around the world. They are also testing with shipping companies as well as customs agencies to stop fake items from reaching the market in the first place. 

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices


Director: Meshal Al Jaser

Starring: Adwa Bader, Yazeed Almajyul, Khalid Bin Shaddad

Rating: 4/5


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Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

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The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

The specs

Engine: 2.3-litre 4cyl turbo
Power: 299hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 420Nm at 2,750rpm
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 12.4L/100km
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh157,395 (XLS); Dh199,395 (Limited)

Our legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.


Main card

Bantamweight 56.4kg: Mehdi Eljamari (MAR) beat Abrorbek Madiminbekov (UZB), Split points decision

Super heavyweight 94+kg: Adnan Mohammad (IRN) beat Mohammed Ajaraam (MAR), Split points decision

Lightweight 60kg:  Zakaria Eljamari (UAE) beat Faridoon Alik Zai (AFG), RSC round 3

Light heavyweight 81.4kg: Taha Marrouni (MAR) beat Mahmood Amin (EGY), Unanimous points decision

Light welterweight 64.5kg: Siyovush Gulmamadov (TJK) beat Nouredine Samir (UAE), Unanimous points decision

Light heavyweight 81.4kg:  Ilyass Habibali (UAE) beat Haroun Baka (ALG), KO second round

List of officials:

Referees: Chris Broad, David Boon, Jeff Crowe, Andy Pycroft, Ranjan Madugalle and Richie Richardson.

Umpires: Aleem Dar, Kumara Dharmasena, Marais Erasmus, Chris Gaffaney, Ian Gould, Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough, Nigel Llong, Bruce Oxenford, Ruchira Palliyaguruge, Sundaram Ravi, Paul Reiffel, Rod Tucker, Michael Gough, Joel Wilson and Paul Wilson.

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Ireland 1 Denmark 5

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Denmark 0-0 Ireland

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Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

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Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
Number of staff: 37
Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture

Profile Periscope Media

Founder: Smeetha Ghosh, one co-founder (anonymous)

Launch year: 2020

Employees: four – plans to add another 10 by July 2021

Financing stage: $250,000 bootstrap funding, approaching VC firms this year

Investors: Co-founders


Company name: 3S Money
Started: 2018
Based: London
Founders: Ivan Zhiznevsky, Eugene Dugaev and Andrei Dikouchine
Sector: FinTech
Investment stage: $5.6 million raised in total



La Mer lowdown

La Mer beach is open from 10am until midnight, daily, and is located in Jumeirah 1, well after Kite Beach. Some restaurants, like Cupagahwa, are open from 8am for breakfast; most others start at noon. At the time of writing, we noticed that signs for Vicolo, an Italian eatery, and Kaftan, a Turkish restaurant, indicated that these two restaurants will be open soon, most likely this month. Parking is available, as well as a Dh100 all-day valet option or a Dh50 valet service if you’re just stopping by for a few hours.


Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

World Sevens Series standing after Dubai

1. South Africa
2. New Zealand
3. England
4. Fiji
5. Australia
6. Samoa
7. Kenya
8. Scotland
9. France
10. Spain
11. Argentina
12. Canada
13. Wales
14. Uganda
15. United States
16. Russia


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Transmission: Constant Variable (CVT)

Power: 141bhp 

Torque: 250Nm 

Price: Dh64,500

On sale: Now

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