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4 Reasons Not to Dismiss Dance Cardio

Dance Cardio Classes Are No Joke

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If you've always admired what dance workouts can do for the body but haven't dabbled, now is the chance to make your move. A flood of dance cardio studios and methods are making the discipline more accessible and fitness oriented than ever before. The cardio portion of class is inspired by HIIT, so we're constantly spiking your heart rate, then bringing it down for a few seconds of recovery," says instructor Katherine Greiner, the founder of KGBody in New York City, a high-energy, athletic dance workout. "And we really let the music be the driver, pushing when there is a swell in the song." "If RiRi or Drake drops a hot record, you bet we'll add it to our classes," says Janet Jones, the founder of Vixen Workout, in Florida and New York City. Some spots like 305 Fitness, in Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C., even feature a live DJ in every class.

There's Something for Everyone

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With tons of different classes cropping up, you can find the style that jibes with your personality. At Lithe Method in Philadelphia, founder Lauren Boggi uses her experience as a former cheerleader at the University of South Carolina to inspire her Cardio-Cheer-Sculpting style, incorporating moves such as tuck jumps. Other methods, like Bollywood-inspired BollyX and Doonya (both offered at studios in multiple states), take a cue from cultural dancing the way Zumba co-opts salsa, while spots such as Broadway Bodies in New York City replicate dance sequences straight out of music videos. (Can't get to a class? Try this at home workout inspired by Olivia Wilde's favorite dance moves.)

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Nondancers Can Do It

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These classes are less about nailing precise choreography and more about moving your body in ways it's not used to, such as twerking, booty popping, and hip swinging. "I didn't take dance lessons. I'm not a trained dancer. I just love music and love to move," says Sadie Kurzban, the founder of 305 Fitness. "Participants who come into class worried about perfecting the choreography actually lose out on the real experience, which is letting go and losing yourself to music and dance," Jones says. Her only rule is to own your mistakes. If you go left when the instructor goes right, make it a big, bold, confident move to the left and don't sweat it. And if you feel totally lost? Just keep moving! Jumping jacks or high knees will keep your heart rate up while you get back on the beat. (FYI, Dance cardio is perfect for anyone who hates high-intensity workouts, but still wants to get their heart pumping.)

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It Can Double As Resistance Training

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Yes, it's called dance cardio, but that doesn't mean you won't build muscle. "Classes now are more serious about the sculpting aspect," says Mahri Relin, the founder of Body Conceptions in New York City, which fuses core-centric exercises with fun dance-inspired moves. (Like this ab-focused routine.) Many studios will feature at least one strength-training portion between dance intervals. Gliding discs, Pilates balls, and light weights are often part of the repertoire at Body by Simone, while Lithe Method uses a resistance-band system and body-weight moves. And remember, unlike your typical repetitive-motion cardio— running, biking, swimming, any cardio-machine routine— you'll move your body in new ways, working muscles you didn't know you had, Greiner says. Dance calls on your body to move laterally and forward and backward, change levels constantly, rotate and shift in balance-challenging ways—all those actions mean just about no muscle is left napping.

Motivation Soars, Time Flies

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The great thing about dance cardio is that it's so much more immersive and captivating than counting reps and sets or keeping track of how much time you have left on the treadmill, Jones says. The high-energy party feeling of many classes makes it easy to forget everything else that's going on in your life and just sweat. "You're never watching the clock," Kurzban says. "You never give up, because every time you feel tired, that next hot song comes on and you can't help but keep going." (Not only is it a great way to pass the time, studies show dancing can help improve your memory.)

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First-Timer Tips

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Stand in the front row

Resist the urge to hide in the back— you want a clear view of your instructor so you can shadow her moves, not your classmates'. (Some people find it easier to stand just to the right of the instructor, Greiner says; since we read from left to right, learning from that perspective may make things click quicker.)

Learn the footwork first

Watch from the ground up and don't worry about the arms. After you've perfected the feet, you can start adding in the upper body.

Ignore the mirror

Watch the instruc­tor's back instead of trying to learn by watching through the mirror. Other­wise, you have to reverse each move in your brain.

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