With new trends bringing fitness to the forefront of our daily lives, dancing has become main stream for health and wellness. Ballroom, ballet, jazz and square dancing have always been available through local communities. Square dancing is taught in physical education classes throughout elementary and secondary schools as well as some churches and these classes have grown exponentially in popularity bringing hip hop along with it.
The combination of dance and martial arts is also a new trend. Variety and choice are the keys to keeping people interested and engaged with any type of fitness program. To keep participants moving, it looks like instructors have figured out that class diversity pulls more people in and companies are now offering a wide variety of dance options which are available and offered not only for serious dance buffs but also for the exercise enthusiast who chooses dance as their main fitness tool to get in shape.
Paula Abdul tapped into this trend in the late 1980s. The important thing is turning normal aerobics into a dance class with cool new moves while making you sweat without even realizing you are working hard because of the fun you’re having doing all the different moves in the class. Paula had a moderate hip hop style integrated with jazz basics and a touch of her own creative style which was utilized in music videos with artists like Janet Jackson.
Hip hop has also blended into other types of dance like ballroom which can be seen in the 2005 movie “Take the Lead” featuring Antonio Banderas. There was a time when age was attached to the style of dance but this is no longer a fact and people from any age can have fun participating in any of the creative and fun styles.
Break dancing has become extremely acrobatic with phenomenal feats of strength and agility. From the “helicopter” to the “headstand spin” and the basic “backspin”, individuals who are advanced “breakers” are incredibly talented and athletic. Moves taken from the Brazilian art called Capoeira are mixed into popping and locking hip hop routines.
Fitness competitions seem to follow the trend but at an extreme level considering the dieting and strict preparation expected along with the fitness performance needed to win contests. This makes it even harder on the athlete since they are basically at their weakest state at the time of a contest due to the limited carbohydrate intake and the decrease in calories to get that ultra shredded look each competitor is striving for.
Gymnastic tricks make up half of the break dancing and hip hop routines by using flips and twists which have increased the levels of difficulty with dance to all new heights. Some of the moves like the “helicopter” are truly amazing to watch and the level of athleticism needed to perform these is incredible.
I recommend choosing a dance style you have always wanted to try. Pick the higher energy classes for those individuals who are injury free and want cardio and fat loss combined together. Meanwhile, it’s important to choose lower energy styles of dance for those seeking moderation and less physical difficulty. Make sure you are moving for 30-60 minutes on average in order to be effective in burning enough calories to attain your fitness goals. The great thing is you can move up one level or try another style of dance at a later date to keep your fitness program fun and exciting.
The important thing to remember when participating in a dance class is to ensure proper hydration before, during and after your session. Use small time slots to practice on your own in the event your classes only fall once per week. Ensure proper nutrient intake to support the caloric output required from your body when you’re working hard during your dance sessions. Lastly, you need to make sure to warm up properly and stretch at the end of your session to stay limber and avoid injuries such as strains or sprains. Pulled muscles can set you back for months so do everything you can to avoid these issues. Be safe and have fun while you learn some new moves which you can show off at the club or the next wedding you attend!