Updated: May 11
© Copyright 2021 Artwork by Cordi Neckermann
Dancing is good for your body and brain and there are two very different approaches to bring more dancing into your life. You can join a dance class or a dance fitness class.
In a dance class, no matter what style, the goal is to learn the technique and choreography to be able to perform later or simply to learn a new skill. On the other hand, in a dance fitness class, the focus is purely on dancing and having fun, just like you would in a club, together with your friends. Showing each other moves and copying them without thinking about choreography or any special dance techniques. Dance fitness turns a nightly dance party into your workout. The goal here is to sweat, smile and have a good time. It all sounds easy enough, but there still seem to be some misconceptions around dance fitness. I have chosen the five that I hear most often as an instructor and would like to bust those myths and clear up any confusion.
I’m too uncoordinated to take a dance fitness class
There are several reasons why this statement is a complete myth. You are not supposed to pick up every move perfectly during a dance fitness class. The movements demostrated by the instructor are just suggestions on how you can interpret the music. You are free to choose the move the instructor suggests or make it your own, choosing the elements you like and choosing just an arm, leg or hip movement. The most important thing is to keep moving.
Especially if you feel like improving your co-ordination, joining a dance fitness class is the perfect way to do so. The learning in a dance fitness class happens slowly over time and allows your coordination to improve slowly and incrementally, without the pressure of getting the moves right. The choreography is generally built up in cycles, so you have the opportunity to revisit the different moves within the duration of one song, as well as over the course of several classes. The brain and body have chance to learn, without you feeling the strain of specifically memorising choreography as muscle memory takes over and you end up having a fun dance party instead of a mentally strenuous class.
I can’t pick up all the moves that fast
In a dance class, it is necessary to master a certain technique in order to build on it. In dance fitness however, all moves are equal. There is no expectation to remember dance moves from one class to the next. The opposite is actually true. Some dance fitness instructors will switch around their playlists from one class to the next, to keep things fresh and give your brain and body a new challenge. While the choreography and songs might be different, the individual dance moves are similar and may only be combined in a different way.
Dance fitness doesn’t build muscle strength
While there are some dance fitness concepts that incorporate weights or toning sticks, it is not necessary to use weights to tone your muscles in a dance fitness class. Dance is an overall body workout, targeting all muscles groups equally as you use your own body weight to work against gravity. The set of muscles that are strengthened most in a dance fitness class, are your postural and core muscles. In order to stay alert and copy the moves of the instructor, a certain core strength is required to be able to react quickly. Over the course of several dance fitness classes, these postural muscles get stronger and in turn, improve your overall balance and body posture.
I won’t learn anything in a dance fitness class
Even though the dance fitness instructors don’t break down all the choreography, there is still a learning curve towards mastering certain dance moves. After taking classes for a month, you will notice that even though you have “only” been following the instructor, your muscle memory will be kicking in. This still works, even if there is a high turnover of songs and choreography, as the library of dance moves used by dance fitness instructors is roughly the same. Picking up new moves gets easier and easier over time. The connections between our brain and our body become trained to react more quickly than before, just by participating and attempting to follow the moves of the instructor.
I only get my heart rate up by jumping
Some jumping is definitely part of a good dance fitness class, but it is not the only way to bring your heart rate up. You can still dance and sweat your socks off by staying firmly on the ground and minimising impact on your joints. Another way to raise the heart rate, is to move your arms above shoulder level. Choosing to follow only the arm movements of the instructor and putting all the energy into waving your arms in the air (like you just don’t care!), definitely pays off.
When starting your own dance fitness journey, it is advisable to listen to your body do the moves you feel comfortable with. The strength to participate in all the jumpy bits has to be built up over time and gradually to avoid any injuries. Until you reach this point, carry on using those arms and waving them in the air… you know how the song goes!
Has this helped clear things up a bit? Then turn your dreaded treadmill time into a fun, fab dance party and dance yourself happy, healthy and brain fit!
Do you live in or near London, Hampstead? Come and pop into my BollyX class for a shimmy and shake....all wavy arm movements welcome!
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Can’t wait to dance with you!