Wacky Workouts: Summer's Hottest Ways to Get Fit

What began as a dance class morphed into a whole lot more, said McDaniel, who founded the Los Angeles dance company Blue 13.

When she first started teaching Indian dance five years ago in Los Angeles, "Very few people knew what Bollywood was," McDaniel said.

But the popularity of movies like "Monsoon Wedding" and "Bride and Prejudice," the use of bhangra beats by hip-hop artists and an increasingly more visible immigrant Indian population on college campuses, made the music more accessible.

The next thing McDaniel knew, "people started asking me to come to their fitness class and yoga studios to do workshops," she said. "Ninety percent of these people are not Indian" and the students in her classes range in age from 7 to 67.

The class involves what McDaniel calls "bhangra shoulders," the up-and-down movement common in almost every Bollywood movie dance scene, squats, turns, hopping on one foot and modern Bollywood choreography.

"Everyone knows the music now. I think that it really gets people going," McDaniel said.

Punk Rope creator Tim Haft also used music as the inspiration for developing his class. As a personal trainer and marathon coach for the past 10 years, he often went to exercise classes for work -- and hated them.

"I just thought they were really sterile and rigid and people were not having fun and I could not stand the music," he said. His solution: "Let me create the class that I want to take. … I started to draw on my background."

Haft grew up in the '70s in New York during the heyday of the Buzzcocks, the Stooges, the Ramones and their ilk and thought punk music would be just the right choice to get people energized.

Now taught in five states, Punk Rope, as the name implies, combines jumping rope and punk music along with themed drills such as baseball-inspired workouts at the beginning of the season or Boston Tea Party relay race on Patriots Day.

But Haft believes the class, the bulk of which is basically jump rope interval training, works because of the perfect combination of the movement and the music.

"Here's where punk dovetails with Punk Rope. People would pogo and a pogo [move] is just rope jumping without a rope," Haft said. "One of the beautiful things about punk is that it's one of the only music genres that [the songs] are that short."

Like Punk Rope, Zumba, which is taught nationally, draws on music, primarily Latin beats, as well as Latin dances, including samba, merengue, cha cha, mambo and flamenco.

Nicole Toman, who's been teaching Zumba at the Cypress Creek YMCA in Houston since February, has been surprised by the turnout for her class. It's become one of the YMCA's most popular, meeting three times a week with an average class size of about 60 participants.

"It's a little sexy. You can kind of be silly and be fun and just let your body go," Toman said, calling kickboxing and step aerobics classes more rigid. "It's fun for the woman to feel a little sexy with the [chest] shakes and the hip twirls and I think they really enjoy it."

Choosing the Right Class

Still, these classes, while they can be physically challenging, aren't for everyone, according to Bryant.

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