Priya Pandya and Kajal Desai

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Gone are the days of all-in-one fitness centers, where you logged your minutes on the elliptical to the soundtrack of weightlifters’ grunts and yogis’ oms. Rising in their stead: boutique gyms with specialized training plans and a more intimate approach. And, despite the crowded field, Priya Pandya and Kajal Desai have shimmied their way into everyone's workout schedule with their Bollywood studio Doonya.
In Doonya, they’ve successfully turned a traditional dance into a modern fitness craze. During one of their classes, you’ll sculpt your body, sweat out toxins, and — more importantly — you’ll laugh. If laughter is a exercise (and, our abs say yep), Doonya is a one-two workout punch you can't miss out on.
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BN_Feature4_Vertical_PriyaPhotographed by Geordy Pearson.
Why Bollywood dance is such a provocative form of fitness
Kajal: “The sensual side of it comes from the hip and rib-cage movements. It’s all about exuding confidence. When you have the right form, you see how using one muscle might allow you to pop your hip out a little bit, and you add that expression and attitude and all of a sudden you’re oozing this sexy feeling. Anyone can do it! In Doonya, we’re showing people that we all have the same muscles and structure inside, you just need the confidence to try and move your body in the same way. Hopefully, when people leave our classes, they take that awareness with them and stand a little taller than they did when they showed up.”
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Why we call Doonya the “happy workout”
Kajal: “The fitness industry in general is moving toward a focus on feeling better and feeling confident. Fitness is not just about hard abs; it's as much about feeling strong as it is about feeling sexy and graceful and beautiful. For us, Doonya is about expressing yourself. Most people don’t think of working out as being expression-based, but we think that the more you allow your body to feel like it’s not one note, the happier you’ll feel when you leave.”
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BN_Feature4_Vertical_KajalPhotographed by Geordy Pearson.
Why we call Doonya the “happy workout”
Priya: “Women just don’t make time for themselves. They focus on everyone around them, and then they’re the last priority. We want you to make yourself a priority! Even though we’re making you squat low, and you’re sweating and the moves are really challenging, we’re always smiling and encouraging you. If you feel really good and really happy, that’s going to spread to everyone around you. So, you’re not just doing yourself a favor; you’re doing everyone around you a favor.”
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What makes me feel beautiful
Priya: “It’s hard for women because we have people who try to tell us what our faces and bodies should look like. The thing with hair and makeup and clothing is that they allow you to focus on things you can control. When I get my makeup done, I always feel beautiful because someone took care of me. But, we all can do the same for ourselves, too. Makeup is not about making yourself look like someone else; it’s about enhancing all of the qualities you have — and that’s what's going to boost your confidence."
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GetTheLook_Priya
What makes me feel beautiful
Kajal: “It’s more about making sure you’re taking care of yourself. At the end of the day, the goal is to live a long, healthy life. It’s not to look a particular way, but to feel a particular way. I feel my best when I’m teaching a class, because I think the best version of me is when I’m encouraging others to find the best version of them. When I’m up there moving and sweating, I feel most myself.”
On Priya: Karolyn Pho Bustier Top; Mango Linen Trouser; INC International Concepts Blue Suede Heels; Vintage Gold Bangles. On Kajal: Vivienne Tam Bandeau Top, Jacket, and Shorts; Nine West Heels.
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