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Fit in my 40s: I’ve finally found my perfect online dance class – and I’m sticking to it

Zoe Williams
·3 min read

After almost a year of experimenting with online dance classes, I’m pretty certain that the most important thing is not what they do to your heart rate or, by extension, your overall fitness. You alone determine those things, by doing the routine regularly, and by putting your full effort in.

No, what’s important is a workout that keeps you coming back. There are three things that help with this. First – loth as I am to say it, because I’m tight – you need to pay for it, ideally on a subscription so that you feel as though the more often you do it, the better value you’re getting. Second, it has to be unfamiliar, since there’s quite a lot of failure involved in following any dance routine, and it’s somehow less demoralising to fail at something new. Third, it should put you in a good mood. It’s hard to say what combination of zing, choreography, chat and music achieves this, but once you find it, cling to it.

It is on these criteria that I commend to you Kukuwa fitness, whose eponymous Ghanaian founder, a trained dancer, started at about the same time as Jane Fonda, but only in the digital age has found a global reach, driven by word of mouth.

With her daughter, Cass, Kukuwa Kyereboah models half an hour’s worth of dance moves – the choreography and music are drawn from central, east, south, west and north Africa – across a massive range of videos, from the high-energy Pick It Up to the more freeform Jam Out. Kukuwa and Cass are graceful, precise and balletic – not in an uptight way, more in the sense that the movement is explosive but controlled; more Nutcracker than aerobics class. There are a lot of knee lifts, and exuberant bouncing backwards and forwards.

Related: Fit in my 40s: can I learn to love livestreamed classes? | Zoe Williams

Done by me, at home; well, put it this way, the only room in which I have both enough wifi to stream it, and enough carpet not to hurt myself, looks straight on to traffic lights on an arterial road. The only time anyone passing ever laughed in my face was when an articulated lorry stopped at a red light, which is to say, every two minutes.

It’s often too fast for me to follow, in the sense of my brain catching up with my limbs; but sometimes it’s physically too fast, as in, I can’t figure out how they’re getting their arms round their heads in such a short time. Then I am exhausted.

One time, my son called in the middle of a class because he’d just been sent home from school to self-isolate and was on top of the world. We talked for most of his 15-minute journey home, then I picked it back up and, despite the break, the whole enterprise registered on my Fitbit (with all my usual provisos) as an hour of solid exercise. That’s how high-octane it is. I can’t wait for my next session.

What I learned

Do the class once, and you’ll want the soundtrack, which conveniently you can find on Spotify: Kukuwa Fitness, a playlist by Marga FE.