Physical fitness is critical to good health, but even the most dedicated exercise buff probably gets bored with their routine after a while. Shahil Patel and his partners have created a program that is so much fun that boredom should never be a problem.
Although Shahil started college planning to become a doctor, he soon developed a fascination with Bollywood. Determined to overcome his inhibitions and lack of experience in dance, he spent more time listening to on-line music than he did cracking open his pre-med textbooks. Soon he was fully immersed in the intercollegiate dance circuit, and he and his team rose to the top of the ranks, earning seven first-place prizes over two seasons.
In 2009, Shahil led the first Bollywood dance team to the final rounds of “America’s Got Talent,” performing a routine to “Jai Ho!” from the popular movie Slumdog Millionaire. The team garnered rave reviews from celebrity judges David Hasselhoff, Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan. Now fully confident that he had found his true calling, Shahil founded Ishaara, a Bollywood dance team that is now one of the world’s largest, with over 50 premier dancers across the U.S. He has choreographed and led Bollywood performances for many high-profile organizations, such as Walmart, Pepsi, DIRECTV and ATT, and performed alongside superstars such as Gloria Estefan and Enrique Iglesias.
While he greatly enjoyed his work as a dancer and choreographer, Shahil also wanted to find a way that the average person could participate in the dynamic experience of Bollywood dance. Mayuri Bhandari was teaching Bollywood dance classes in Berkeley, California, drawing more than 150 people on a weekly basis. Mayuri had been one of the finalists of Just Dance in 2011 and Dare 2 Dance in 2014, and had performed for Yash Raj Studios in Mumbai.
Minal Mehta, who had grown up participating in Bollywood dancing competitions and trained in acting and numerous classical Indian dance forms, had earned an MBA at Harvard and was skilled in developing and growing businesses.
These three combined together to create BollyX, launching their program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in June of 2013. Interest grew quickly and soon the three met Fen Tung, who had over 15 years of experience and certifications in numerous forms of fitness programs such as Zumba, Kickboxing and Pilates, giving BollyX a solid connection between Bollywood dance and fitness routines.
As described on the website, “BollyX is a Bollywood-inspired dance-fitness program that combines dynamic choreography with the hottest music from around the world. Its 50-minute cardio workout cycles between higher and lower-intensity dance sequences to get you moving, sweating, and smiling.”
In January of 2014 BollyX filmed its first promotional video and in 2015 appeared at the IDEA World Fitness Convention. They participated in the global Harvard Business School Alumni New Venture Competition and in April 2015 were named “Most Innovative,” and awarded a prize of $25,000.
A fifth team member joined them shortly thereafter. Brent Lagerman was the guru behind branding of the billion-dollar fitness event company Tough Mudder. According to the BollyX website, “he helped BollyX develop a new logo, website, and brand identity. He became CTO of BollyX and created an online training portal so that instructors could easily access choreography, marketing materials and class management tools to support their classes.”
BollyX classes are available in over 100 cities worldwide and over 3,000 instructors have been trained to lead these classes. New this year is BollyX on Demand. Now it is possible to stream over 250 dance routines on a laptop, TV or mobile device. These workouts range from 10 to 50 minutes and are designed for all fitness levels.
The BollyX fitness program and instructor training is endorsed by the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the American Council on Exercise (ACE), canfitpro (FIS) and the British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA) in Canada as an approved provider for continuing education units/credits (CEUs/CECs).”