Dance Away the Pounds!
When you think "exercise", what comes to your mind? There are so many different ways you can exercise today. People join group exercise classes that focus on spinning, cardio, step, interval weight training, yoga, and more. At the gym, you might use a treadmill, an elliptical trainer, or a stair stepper. For those who enjoy fresh air during exercise, you run miles around the neighborhood and participate in local marathons.
These are all great, classic ways to stay in shape, but as with all routines, they eventually lose their novelty and even grow tedious. When you're looking for exercise and fun at the same time, along with skills you can bust out to impress others later, why not try ... dance!
Dance for exercise!
Dance classes aren't just for little girls or your grandparent's senior centers anymore; now many forms of dance are being taught in studios and gyms throughout the country. Some are new to western culture, while others are revivals of old styles of dancing, like swing. The one thing they all have in common? They are fun and can help to get you or keep you in good shape, while having a blast!
Dancing for exercise is also an economical endeavor: you don't need expensive power-sucking equipment, and you don't need special clothes or extra money - many community centers offer classes for free or a nominal cost. Right now, you have everything you need to get out there, learn something new, meet new people who are learning just like you, move around and have fun, and end up looking great for your efforts.
Zumba is the newest workout dance craze appearing in gyms and community centers throughout the nation. Zumba is Colombian slang for "fast" and incorporates footwork and body movements from flamenco, salsa, merengue, mambo and other Latin and international dance styles. It is described as similar to dancing in a night club, but without the booze, smoke, and cheesy pickups lines. Zumba is an overall body aerobic fitness interval training with a combination of fast and slow rhythms that is known to leave dancers with flushed cheeks and drenched in sweat.
No need to be a professional dancer to try Zumba, it is fun for the young and old, at all skill levels. Classes typically start with a warm-up session, followed by the main routine, and then ending with a cool down. Typical class length is one hour and, according to Discovery Health's Calorie Burn Calculator, a 145 lbs. individual would burn 295 calories when dancing flamenco for one hour, or 197 calories burned for an hour of mambo dancing. The calorie burn continues long after you are finished dancing, as it boosts your metabolism over the hours following dancing and increases muscle mass, which helps to burn additional fat over time.
Other Dance Alternatives
For those slightly more experienced in the art of dancing, salsa is a great workout that uses foot patterns to target the buns and thighs. Salsa traces its origins to the Caribbean and has African and European influences mixed in with this popular Latin style dance. Salsa takes a pattern of six steps danced over eight counts of music. Many gyms now offer aerobic exercise classes in salsa dancing as well as instructional classes. Salsa can also be a great way to work out on a Friday evening, as many clubs are beginning to offer complimentary salsa dance lessons before the evening gets into full swing.
Many women returning to the exercise scene after years away are being lured by the prospect of classes using belly dancing or pole dancing to get in shape. These classes offer benefits of aerobic exercise and calorie burn, but can also offer something harder to find: increased self-esteem. Pole dancing and belly dancing are both body-isolating exercises that focus on and strengthen your core muscles. These styles can be fun when you are looking to try something new or want to jazz up your boring old workout routine. The man in your life might appreciate your new found skills as well!
No matter what dancing style you decide to try, remember that being healthy can be fun!