Bombay Jam – Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Anaesthetic Consultant, Swapna Gambhir.
By Lucy Ashton
An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde consultant has been helping keep communities fit throughout lockdown, thanks to a unique Bollywood Dance fitness class.
Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Anaesthetic Consultant, Swapna Gambhir, sees upwards of 50 participants taking part in her ‘Bombay Jam for Charity’ virtual fitness classes which have also raised more than £5,000 for charity.
The classes, which run on Zoom, take inspiration from the Bollywood music scene, with Swapna leading and teaching the dance moves required to cover up to eleven routines per session, including a warm-up, cardio and toning tracks and a cool down. Participants are active for up to an hour, burning up to 800 calories, with a mixture of Bollywood and Western hits acting as a soundtrack to the classes.
The Bombay Jam for Charity classes have proven a huge hit during lockdown, helping take minds off of the pandemic and keeping people of all ages and capabilities active.
As the only accredited Bombay Jam trainer in the UK, Swapna first launched the programme over three years ago to help get fit and to help others who might otherwise not have the time to keep up regular exercise. Initially taking place at Garscube sports studio and Williamwood High School, when the pandemic struck the classes went virtual which opened them up to even more participants who can now be seen joining from as far away as the US, the Middle East and India.
The classes have been particularly beneficial for women in the BAME community, who can face challenges engaging in other forms of exercises due to cultural reasons. Bombay Jam for Charity provides them with an easy access form of exercise they can do from their own homes.
While each session is completely free and the programme runs as a not-for-profit, participants are encouraged to donate, with all proceeds going to charity. More than 12 charities have benefited so far, which include Glasgow Children’s Hospital, the Beatson Cancer Charity, Stop Hate UK, WWF UK and Samaritans, among others.
Commenting, Swapna said: “I initially started Bombay Jam for Charity to help get myself fit. As an Anaesthetic consultant it was difficult finding the time to keep up a consistent exercise programme. I now have people who rely on me to deliver the classes so there are no excuses anymore!
“What people enjoy most about the class is the accessibility. Anyone can take part from home and the time flies as it doesn’t feel like exercise. I think another reason it’s proving popular is that it provides an outlet for people to take their minds off the pandemic. The classes are a fun, sociable escape and we know how important keeping active is for our mental health. The most satisfying aspect for all participants and me in particular, is the money we donate to various charities. Being able to help our communities whilst getting fit ourselves adds an extra feel-good factor to the classes.”
More recently, Swapna has seen a high proportion of healthcare professionals from the BAME community taking part and she believes being able to access something familiar and being able to connect with other individuals is helping give them a boost as they cope with heavy workloads and stress associated with the pandemic.
Dr Priya Iyer is a GP in NHS Lanarkshire who has been participating in Swapna’s classes since the pandemic struck. Commenting, she said:
“Swapna’s classes provide an amazing and fun outlet to keep active during these unprecedented times. Personally, I benefit physically and mentally from the classes. It’s a great way to remain active and to connect with people who we’d otherwise be unable to because of COVID-19.
“The format of the classes means people of different abilities can all take part and get something positive out of the sessions.”