Everybody Dance Now!

Everybody Dance Now!

By: KELLY SHERIDAN

I hate the gym. It’s crazy, I know, and this is probably only one of a few times that such an opinion has been proclaimed on a website which promotes fitness and nutrition. To me, running over a mile on a treadmill is the equivalent to doing a marathon in a full sprint. Especially during this time of year, the gym is hot, overcrowded, and miserable.Yet despite my hatred of the gym, I lead an extremely active lifestyle. Distance running and walking outside are two of my favorite ways to work out sans gym, but there are many other ways to exercise without spending hours on the elliptical. Some popular options are Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, and spinning classes, all of which are fun ways to keep in shape. However, one of the most overlooked forms of exercise is dance. Many people, including myself, use dance as a form of exercise on a regular basis.

There are so many forms of dance that it’s not hard to find one that best suits your personal taste. Ballet, hip-hop, tap, jazz, ballroom, and Irish step are only a few forms of dance which allow you to learn rhythm and keep in shape. Other classes such as Zumba and Jazzercise are also popular. Here is some background information about a few popular forms of dance (www.livestrong.com):

    • Ballet (331 calories/hour): If you are seeking to build lean muscle mass, increase flexibility, and improve posture, perhaps you should sign up for a ballet class. If you don’t consider yourself to be a graceful person, ballet will help you develop this characteristic with its flowing movements. Be prepared to get in shape – although ballerinas appear as though they float across the dance floor, this sport takes a great deal of athletic ability.
    • Hip-hop (up to 500 calories/hour): Hip-hop dance workouts are a great form of cardiovascular exercise. In most classes, the teachers cater to each individual’s abilities, so you won’t have to worry about doing more complex moves, such as back flips or headstands, on the first day. In addition to being a fun form of cardio, this form of dance also strengthens the abdominal and back muscles.
    • Tap (316 calories/hour): Tap is a fun form of dancing because the rhythm is not only audible in the music, but in the taps of your footwork. Basically, you can develop a beat with or without music while tap dancing. Though tap works both your upper and lower body, it has a great effect on toning the thighs and hips.
    • Jazz (316 calories/hour): With jazz, you have the option of dancing to either slow or fast-paced music. Whatever type you choose, with jazz you will build your endurance and strengthen the muscles in your upper body, back, hips, and thighs.
    • Ballroom Dance (325 fast-paced, 177 slow-paced/hour): Though it may not seem to have significant health benefits, ballroom dancing helps strengthen the calf, thigh, back, and abdominal muscles. This dance works these muscles in a different way than jogging or walking normally would.
    • Irish Step (296 calories/hour): Irish step dancing is a great form of cardiovascular activity. This type of dance requires a great deal of endurance, since it involves doing steps and jumps to fast-paced music. Irish step dancing is great way to tone your calves, thighs, and abdominal muscles.

I have been an Irish dancer since age five, and it kept me active throughout my childhood and into my teenage years. Now, as co-captain of my Irish dance team at school, I use dance as a form of exercise on a regular basis. Since I also love to run, I consider myself to be in fairly good shape. Yet after an intense dance workout, my leg muscles feel noticeably tired. Dance works the leg muscles in a different way from running, walking, or using the elliptical. By jumping, pointing my feet, and spending a great amount of time on tip-toe, my legs get a workout. Practicing choreographed routines is enough to break a sweat, but in my opinion it’s the drills that are the real calorie-burners. Series of leaps, kicks, and points are great for toning muscles and getting in some cardiovascular activity. Dance is a great form of exercise, and it breaks up the monotony of my usual workout routines.

Here are a few reasons why I always have, and always will, love to dance:

    • Being part of a team: With many forms of dance, such as Irish step, hip-hop, and ballroom, you can choose to dance solo or be part of a group routine. Because many people are used to working out alone, dancing in sync with multiple dancers can be a new, fun way to exercise and meet new people.
      • Creativity: Whatever type of dance you choose, after you master the basics you’re free to choreograph your own dance to any type of music you want. This is a great way to demonstrate your dance skills and creativity. You can make up solo performance pieces or group routines such as trios and duets.
    • A different form of workout: It’s a nice break from the monotony of gym routines. Dance is so lively and fun that you will hardly even realize you’re burning calories! Often, I spend so much time trying to perfect my steps that I lose track of time. Before I know it, I’ve been exercising my leg muscles for over an hour.

So what are you waiting for? Chances are, there are dance classes being offered in your area right now. Dance may be the best thing for you whether you’re looking to get in shape, find a new hobby, or spice up your workout routine.

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2 Comments on “Everybody Dance Now!”

  1. bri
    February 6, 2012 at 5:48 am #

    I hate the gym as equally. I’m terrified of falling off the treadmill, and the idea that people pay to solely workout makes me sad, when you consider how laughable the idea was only sixty years ago.

    That said, dance brings together a set of passionate individuals who genuinely love what they do. Give me that.

  2. Kelsey Cruz
    February 9, 2012 at 2:23 am #

    EVERYONE has been talking about Zumba and other dance classes! I need to get out there! Thanks for the info!

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