Shake Your Groove Thing

By: Karen Dybis | January 27, 2020
Dance as Exercise featured image

Photo Courtesy of Fred Astair.

When you read the word “exercise,” you may conjure up images of people lifting weights or riding a stationary bike. But people who dance or add dance moves to their fitness routines likely picture something more akin to Jennifer Beals in “Flashdance,” an image of a body in motion.

That’s because using dance as exercise makes you feel more like a movie star than a blah Midwesterner trying to stay fit during the long cold seasons. Dance naturally moves your body parts, gets your heart rate flying and makes you sweat. You may not look as good as the starlets in Hollywood, but you certainly think you do, and that’s half the battle. 

Everything from tap to ballet to jazz can be a great way to build muscle, improve your cardiovascular health and stretch out your spine. There are huge physical benefits as well to classical dance training, including ballroom dance. Take one look at brother and sister Derek and Julianna Hough of “Dancing with the Stars” fame, and you’ll understand why dance is promoted as fun and healthy. 

Ballroom dancing offers multiple health benefits both physical and emotional, said Evan Mountain, co-owner of Fred Astaire Dance Studios Michigan with his wife, Lada.

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“The first and most obvious benefit is dance is a physical activity where you can burn 500 calories in an hour doing the cha-cha. Time flies, and you don’t even realize how hard you’re working,” Mountain said.

In addition, there are many other physical benefits, including improved posture, balance and core strength, reduced stress, and improved cognitive memory. There are many other specific health benefits that research links to ballroom dance, including prevention of some memory-loss diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

For Mountain, one of the most powerful benefits of ballroom is “the social connection and confidence, which helps to reduce feelings of isolation, depression or anxiety,” he said.

Here are some places in Metro Detroit that offer exercise classes that include dance elements in their fitness routines.

Ballroom dance
Ballroom dance is not only elegant to watch, but it engages both mind and body when you’re learning the steps and working with a partner. This kind of dancing requires great physicality to do, so you’ll definitely notice the exercise benefits when you’re learning the Fox Trot or doing something as demanding as the Tango. 

Most of these fitness routines that fall under the Zumba description focus on Latin music and moves, but some may incorporate modern music and artists. So be prepared for plenty of Pitbull along with Marc Anthony if you’re looking to do this routine. The dances are intricate and physically challenging, so start slow and work your way up to your inner JLo. 

This is not your mother’s jazzercise class. Today’s exercises are based on total toning and getting your heart rate into the right zone for physical fitness. You’ll enjoy some jazz dance moves along with popular music in these routines. Plus, there are classes all over Metro Detroit both at independent studios and larger exercise facilities, which makes finding time to fit in exercise easier than ever. 

If you want high energy and big beats, then the Werq workout is for you. This exercise routine includes a lot of hip hop and energy, so you’ll want to start slowly here as well. There are many studios around Metro Detroit that offer these classes, which promise to build muscle as well as overall endurance as you get up to speed in these high-energy routines. 

This kind of exercise incorporates classical ballet moves with a routine designed to get your blood pumping. Detroit Barre is one of the most notable workout facilities offering ballet as an exercise class, so look for a blend of traditional ballet moves incorporated with hard-core exercises that will help you get in shape with long, lean muscles at the same time.