We are officially in the running of 2012. Regardless that it’s only been a couple weeks and that some Christmas lights are still twinkling after dusk, for those of who have made resolutions or are working off holiday splurges, 2012 is in full swing. Since the New Year, gyms have seen a bump in membership. I love the smell of fresh meat, love seeing the new faces, and love the uncertainty and new energy they bring upon opening the door to the studio; it’s invigorating seeing them finish with their hair crazy and their sweaty cheeks tinted with blood, and above all, they are sporting sure smiles as they exit their new class.
Dancing offers a great cardiovascular workout while at the same time it tones, assists in strengthening bone density, increases flexibility and range of motion, and appeals to both men and women, as well as boys and girls. There is a dance for just about everyone out there. If you cannot find it in your club, take a look at your recreational center or for classes being offered at night in local public schools.
In my community, we have everything from Tahitian dancing to Israeli folk dancing, which is an alternative dancing group that often incorporates the use of hula-hoops, fire, and drums into basic ballroom. I teach a dancer’s conditioning class, among other disciplines. At the local YMCA where I teach, students must take a number to attend the Zumba classes. There are easily a dozen students that arrive two hours prior to the class to ensure a number. Now that’s popular! Even more localized and innovative is my Aqua Barre class; it’s essentially a dancer’s conditioning section in a watery environment and supplements my students’ super-vigorous, six-day cardio training routine. For one day out of the week, the focus is on moving, feeling, and conditioning like a dancer. It is a novelty that, at once-a-week, will probably remain so.
A 2007 article in The New York Times described a school in West Virginia that has incorportated the use of a dance video game as an creative method of inspiring movement for students. The 27-year physical education teacher said that the children never run out to play basketball, yet they do run to play this animated dancing game. Taking a tip from this physical education teacher, if you feel a need to change things up a bit or you’re tired of hitting the gym alone or watching DVD’s in your living room, walking up and down the same streets, spinning, and doing the same ‘ol group classes, then give yourself an opportunity to try a dance class. Be it belly, ballet, hip hop, Jazzercise, Zumba, The Groove Method, African Tribal, tap, ballroom, line, whatever your taste in music, you can probably find a dance to meet your musical taste.
A good dance does not require any previous knowledge or know-how (unless stated, and if it does, look for another class). Dance classes are virtually always a lot of fun, have really great playlists, and super, outgoing instructors. Students tend to be eager to make friends, and socializing outside of class is a typical outcome of the tight-knit friendships that develop among dancers. From house parties to potlucks, wherever there is an outlet to plug in a stereo or some speakers, dancing will transform gatherings; forget sitting, chatting, and eating potato chips with french onion dip because when the music starts crankin’, everybody starts moving, including those temporarily unwilling friends and family members!
A healthy lifestyle originates from a place of fun and enjoyment. Try on a dance class and see how it fits you. There are dozens to choose from; try them all if you want, and most offer the first class free. Invite your BFF, a family member, a friend, or fly solo and investigate. Collect experiences and enjoy your cultural journey, a la dance!
Do you already participate in dance? Are you a Zumba fanatic or a late-in-life ballerina? Do you rhumba for competition on the weekends or watch dance shows and imagine yourself doing the same thing? Tell us about it! You can share your thoughts with us on the JumpSport Fitness Facebook page: www.facebook.com/FitnessTrampoline or hit us up on Twitter @FitTrampoline.
Baila, baila, baila!
Heidi Aspen Lauckhardt-Rhoades
Writer and Social Media Correspondent
Professional Fitness Instructor
FB: The Write Fit & Open Barre Happy Hour