The Curative Powers of... Sh'Bam

Picture this- the room is illuminated by multi-coloured lights, the music is loud and everyone around you is sweaty, but happy, and they’re singing and dancing as if their lives depended on it. Where are you? Chances are, you would say Thekla, or Pryzm, or any other club. But no. You are in an exercise class. You are doing Sh’bam.

Sh’Bam is an energetic, Zumba-like class created by the American fitness class company Les Mills. Each routine comprises of around 12 songs (read: 45 minutes of pain, but also of fun). There is only one rule, and that is that there are no rules. A new routine comes out each few months, meaning that you never get bored of doing the same one each time, but also that you can really master each track too. A couple of months into doing a routine, we know it so well that we really can just live in the moment and not have to focus on our instructor (sorry Nat, it’s nothing personal, I promise). It’s a feeling quite like no other. I’d even go as far as to say that until you have attempted to run forward, kick, turn, run back and ‘pony’ all in just one line of Rihanna and Calvin Harris’ “This is What You Came For”, you haven’t really lived.

I have my dad to thank for all of this. As a child, I hated sports at school. As a consequence, I also believed that I hated exercise. All of this changed when my dad dragged me along to the gym with a promise that I would love this new class, that it wouldn’t be scary and that he would stay and do it too. From that moment on, I was hooked, as was he. That’s another reason why, for me, Sh’Bam is powerful- twice a week we spend guaranteed time together, away from work and phones. Bless him, when we all go left, he will be going right, but does he care? Not a bit, because he is there getting some exercise and having a good time, just like the rest of us. Except when he accidentally turns too early and hits me. Thanks, dad.

Since coming to university, there is no gym close enough that runs the class, so instead I paid for the Les Mills On Demand service. Much to my flatmates’ amusement, I would then do a Sh’Bam class in the middle of our kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but it wasn’t great, and here’s why- it’s not just the dancing and the songs that make Sh’Bam, it’s the atmosphere and people too. The lack of harsh lighting and the overly loud music isn’t just to annoy the other gym-goers. It means that you can’t really see- or hear- what the person next to you is or isn’t doing. The only person we can hear is our instructor (which also means we have to put up with her-erm- beautiful singing). You don’t care what you look like, because it’s too dark to even see your own reflection in the mirrors. But the point is, you know that the other people are there. You can feel their energy, and you bounce off that. There is no better motivation to keep moving, even though your heart feels like it might explode and your thighs feel like they are actually on fire. That’s what I was lacking, dancing alone in my kitchen at uni. And that is what I cannot wait to feel again come Christmas (wow, I really am realising just how addicted I am to this class now).

The curative powers of Sh’Bam cannot, in my opinion, be extoled enough. If I were a scientist, I could give you loads of statistical evidence about how it not only makes you stronger and fitter, but happier too. Alas, I am not. But I can vouch for all of those things personally. So if you see a gym near you is starting a Sh’Bam class, or one like it, go. I guarantee you will come out smiling, whatever mood you went in there with. Maybe don’t blame me for the pain you will feel the next morning though!