Fit to funk: Lycra sports gear is reclaiming its place in the world of the fitness fanatic. Sarah Lewis takes part in a sweaty night of clubland aerobics

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The Independent Culture
It may have been cold outside but inside Camden's Electric Ballroom it was hot, hot, hot. The beat was hot, the moves were hot, the atmosphere torrid. Yet astonishingly for a packed nightclub there was no flirting or drunken snogging in sight.

You'd be forgiven for mistaking the gathering for a meeting of Asexuals Anonymous. In fact it was Clubland Aerobics, the latest, hippest way to get fit which, according to organisers Debbie Trotter and Cathy Pearce, translates into 'An Urban Wild Non-Stop Traditional Blend of Hard Jamming Pulsating Revved Up Aerobics', or three hours of almost non-stop workout.

Despite the overwhelming impression of sunbed tans, spray-on designer gym wear and taut bodies, aerobics in nightclubs is not the exclusive enclave of the young and lithe. Enthusiasts range from 18 to 70 with an equally wide range of shapes and sizes.

Alex, a 52-year-old administrator, is a regular attender. While his peers spend their evenings downing pints, Alex is to be found strutting his highly tuned stuff to an incessant disco beat with enough verve to put a man half his age to shame.

For those who enjoy exercise and clubbing it's a natural culmination of the two. The non-threatening sex-free zone is enough to bring a smile to the face of the most politically correct. If you're out to pick up, forget it. There's not enough time between the frenzied rythms, jumping and gyrating to trot out the tired old chat-up lines.

Meanwhile, in Brixton, dance dynamo Michael Batson heads up Definition Club Class at The Fridge. While the concept is similar to that of Clubland, it's got a harder edge than the gym-mistress-gone-off-the-rails aura of Debbie and Cathy. 'It's not for the faint-hearted,' Michael warns, 'but it is all about enjoyment rather than posing.' Those in attendance bore testimony to this in their paeans to fitness / dance fusion. 'It's not just aerobics in a nightclub,' enthused a sweat-drenched woman. 'You get the excitement that you don't get going to the gym; it's the excitement of a night out.'

The emphasis at both venues is on entertainment. The typical format is 45-minute blocks of aerobics interspersed with live acts such as martial arts and fitness display teams.

Clubland and Definition events will probably have little appeal for those who prefer to lace their nights out with liberal quantities of alcohol. But, as one convert, a jaded club veteran of the old school, put it: 'It certainly makes a change from drinking 15 pints, smoking 100 fags and being rejected by 32 women.'

The next Clubland Aerobics (sponsored by Civic Leisure) is on Tue 8 Feb at The Electric Ballroom, Camden (071-485 9006). Admission is pounds 8 in advance, pounds 10 on the door. Debbie Trotter can be contacted on 071-266 4816, Cathy Pearce on 0956 262796

For details ot the next Definition Club Class, contact Definition on 071-228 5628

(Photograph omitted)