If you’re a fan of Dancing With the Stars, you’ve seen close-ups of the dancemasters and contestants after their routines. Red, sweaty faces. Gasping for air. After dancing for three minutes, it’s as if they’ve worked out in the gym for 30. Even the Olympic champs and athletes, accustomed to harsh workout routines, pant and puff like sedentary couch potatoes. No doubt about it, fast dancing to hot pumping music is a power workout and calorie burner.
We can’t all get slots on DWTS, but new dance fitness programs are popping up all over the country. Search the words “dance fit” and you’ll find a variety of hot new dance programs right in your own community. Programs like ReFit Dance, Wow!Dance Fit, DanceFit, Zumba, and updated Jazzercise. These new dance gigs aren’t your mother’s aerobics classes full of jumping jacks, elbow-to-knee pumps, and running in place. The new dance routines are choreographed to pulsing music like rock, rap, and pop, to Latin, country, and classic oldies.
For the past 30 years I’ve taken some form of dance, starting with aerobics, then modern, Jazzercise, and now ReFit. I’ve taken so many classes and learned so many routines that I sometimes volunteer co-lead with the instructor. It’s my main workout routine. I loathe equipment, love music and movement. Because I work alone in my home office, dance class is my lifeline to the world, my social gathering place.
Do you like to dance? Do you like popular music? Do you want to burn calories, get fit, and hang with a friendly bunch of dancers? Be brave. Give it a try. Contrary to popular belief, no one actually has two left feet.
What You’ll Wear. Loose, comfortable, and stretchy. No sequins or spangles or Spandex. Choose lightweight walkers or cross-training shoes.
Where to Stand. Preferably the middle of the room, not the very back, or you may find yourself in the front row if the class swivels and faces backward. Make sure your view of the instructor isn’t blocked.
What You’ll Do. Chat with the dancers standing next to you. Very likely several of them are new too. The instructor will move through a selection of music, varying genres and tempo, e.g., a fast Latin then a slower contemporary love song, then a rock classic. No one expects you to be a pro. Follow the choreography the best you can. The important thing is to keep moving.
Don’t Give Up. No one is watching you, so no one cares if you’re moving right when the class is moving left. Everyone is too intent on watching the instructor. Take a breather and sit one out. Drink water. You’ll be dancing to the same music for several weeks of classes, with new songs thrown in at intervals, so you’ll eventually learn the steps.
The next session, kick it up a notch. Lose yourself in the music. And have FUN.