By Connie Cook | Guest columnist
When was the last time you felt the earth move under your feet? Or better yet, when was the last time you moved the earth under your feet? There’s nothing like the freedom of expression and what better way to express yourself than to dance? Whether it’s cheek to cheek, down and dirty, a sexy samba, or just bustin’ out a cocktail-infused moonwalk across the dance floor (I hate it when that happens), there is some kind of dance move for every personality out there.
And guess what – dancing is good for you! It burns calories, strengthens your muscles, reduces stress and best of all, it’s portable! You can take your fancy moves with you everywhere you go. No fancy moves to share? No worries! Those of us who teach group fitness classes are here to help you get your groove on and shape you up at the same time!
Group fitness has come a long way since the archaic times of the early 80’s: think leg warmers and spandex, “Flashdance” and ripped sweatshirts, Jane Fonda and Olivia Newton John. Fast-forward to a new generation of hip hop dancers, salsa aerobics, striptease classes and internationally inspired workouts, like capoeira and belly dancing. We’ve gone from “feeling the burn” to “feeling the rhythm.”
If you’re looking for a workout that leaves you feeling like a rock star, and all you wanna do is dance, a hip-hop instructor will teach you MTV-worthy moves like popping and locking that are sure to get you nightclub ready, or at least a little more confident when you pump up your own jam at home in front of the mirror. And even though you may never aspire to be more than your own back-up dancer, the moves you’ll learn in a hip-hop class just might attract a fan club of your very own.
If you think salsa is just for chips, then you need get your cha-cha heels on and experience the caliente Latin rhythm of Zumba. Zumba instructors are popping up in fitness clubs everywhere, sharing their fancy footwork with those inspired by Dancing with the Stars and those who are simply drawn to the spicy vibe of the music. The first steps can be a little challenging, but once you get the basics down and truly let the rhythm move you, your inner Mambo King or Queen will take over in no time!
Feeling a little sultry and slinky? Is seduction your middle name? Burlesque stars may have perfected the art of the tease but cardio strip instructors have perfected the art of bringing out the sexiness in everyone. Think Pussy Cat Dolls in gym shoes. These classes are tastefully choreographed, bumping and grinding combined with provocative eight counts of mesmerizing hip swaying and “come hither” gazes. Inhibitions are left at the door and everyone is encouraged to just let loose. All hearts beat a little faster in this class, especially those of the onlookers!
Want to add another international flare to your workout? Try the Brazilian-born capoeira classes. Capoeira is considered a uniquely Brazilian folk dance with improvised fighting movements that create a fluid sparring ritual. The classes move in sync to tribal-like music incorporating sweeps, kicks, head butts, cartwheels and crouches, that are choreographed by the instructor into smooth acrobatic play, or sparring. It attracts all kinds of participants and opens the door to yet another method of rhythmic movement with an opportunity to learn basic Brazilian fighting skills.
If you need some help unleashing your exotic side, belly dancing classes fuse mysterious middle eastern beats with intriguing hip and arm movements that give you an East-meets-West sensual dance experience. Belly dancing strengthens and tones your abs, thighs, butt and hips, just ask Shakira, her hips don’t lie! Belly dancing classes will shake things up like crazy as you learn lessons in the covered-up craft of hip wiggling, hand circling, and neck arching. Most instructors provide hip scarves complete with jingle jangles, to enhance the movement and help you feel like a true belly dancer.
Dance-inspired fitness classes are a great way to bust a move with your friends in an upbeat environment that focuses on fun while you learn a new way to let loose. Don’t worry if you lack rhythm or know-how, the instructors are there to teach beginners and experienced dancers, alike. It’s all about having fun and the more fun you have, the better you’ll look and feel as you shake your booty toward a better body!
Connie Cook is the fitness director and the Perx program and event coordinator at fit athletic club, located at 350 10th Ave., Suite 200. She can be reached at email@example.com.