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Dance It Off

Kajal Desai and Priya Pandya share the secrets behind their calorie-burning, Bollywood-inspired fitness empire

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Teaching Bollywood dance once a week may have started out as a side gig, but it has transformed into a booming business for Kajal Desai and Priya Pandya, founders of Doonya. Often called the “Bollywood workout,” Doonya is a fitness program based on both moves from Bollywood films and Indian folk dance that combines cardio workouts with high-energy dance. (With that calorie-burning, fun composite of activities, it’s no wonder they have such a strong following.) The Doonya workout emphasizes a whole body focus, Kajal told DuJour, as they incorporate a variety of moves and styles targeting different areas of the body. While she favors the more hip-hop influenced moves, which focus on your core, both women draw inspiration for their moves and workouts from their cultural background.

Priya and Kajal met eight years ago through mutual friends who recognized their shared love of Bollywood. As they grew up watching Bollywood movies and had families that were “really into dance and music,” starting an exercise regime based on the moves seemed like an easy way to stay fit. And hobby turned to occupation when interest in the classes grew (and their clients’ waistlines rapidly shrinking). Priya and Kajal decided to dedicated themselves to fitness full-time.

With classes already in D.C. and New York (and plans to open a studio in L.A.), Doonya is now coming to you (wherever that may be) with a three-disc fitness DVD set, Doonya: The Bollywood Dance Workout, featuring routines that were previously only available in studio classes. “Clients show up thinking they’re just going to dance and have fun, and they’re surprised at how sweaty and how tired they are from it.” Kajal said.

We had to know what keeps these fittness goddess in shape. Below, Priya and Kajal share their top five exercise tips:

1. Don’t be to hard on yourself, you’ll have good and bad days.

2. Exercise regularly and vary it. Try different things to stay active.

3. Push yourself in workouts, don’t do the bare minimum.

4. Be mindful of what you eat, but you don’t have to cut everything out.

5. Balance is key in transforming your body in a way that will last. 

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