With shows like Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing With The Stars having inspired us all to hit the dance floor and get moving, we discovered that ballroom dancing is really good for both your body and mind…
Professional dancer and choreographer, Natalie Lowe says, “Dancing is so much fun, especially if you do it with a friend. For many women, that’s half the battle when it comes to exercise because the gym can get very boring.
“But with dance classes, you don’t even realise you’re working out. Before you know it, you’ve burnt thousands of kilojoules and worked your stomach muscles really hard because it’s the equivalent of doing 50 sit-ups!”
Natalie adds that anyone can do it. “I’ve trained women between the ages of 20 and 70 who have never danced before, and they all picked it up quickly and easily. It doesn’t matter how old or fit you are.
Within a few sessions, you’ll learn the basics and, as your confidence increases, so will the fun and fat burning. It’s also a great stress buster, simply because you’ll be enjoying it so much and concentrating on the steps, that you won’t have time to worry about anything else!”
So what are you waiting for? If you’re still not convinced that dancing is a great all-rounder for mind and body, here’s some more benefits:
Best for your legs
Some dancing is less energetic than other types, meaning they burn fewer kilojoules, but they really target your legs and bottom, says Natalie.
“The Foxtrot, waltz, tango and rumba are very slow dances, so they won’t build up a sweat. However, they involve a lot of lunging, which targets the leg muscles and the bottom, leaving the legs slimmer and more toned, and your bottom more lifted and firm. These dances are great for beginners as they’re slow and easy to pick up.
Best for heart and fat burning
“Faster dances such as the Charleston, quick step and jive are more energetic and get your pulse rate up,” says Natalie. “This means they’re great for heart health and fat burning because they burn so many kilojoules.”
Best for a flat stomach
Natalie says that Zumba and salsa classes are the best dances for this. “They really work your core muscles which hold in your midsection,” she says. “These dances tone up this area and pull in your lower abdominal muscles, which result in a flatter stomach.”
Best for toning arms
“Pretty much all types of dance tone your arms, especially the back of your upper arms, which is a weak spot for a lot of women,” says Natalie.
“All that shimmying in salsa, in particular, works your upper arms. However, the ultimate arm-toning dance is the Paso Doble. It’s a traditional Spanish, march-like dance. Certain moves make it feel as though you’re pushing through water and your arms become incredibly lean and firm after only a few sessions.”
“Your shoes are the most important part of your dancing kit,” says Natalie.
- If you’re doing a gym-style dance class, then you need well-fitting trainers.
- If you’re doing a ballroom style dance class, then you need flat dance shoes that will be low impact and help prevent injury.
For your outfit…
Natalie advises wearing something comfortable. “Avoid anything tight and restrictive. When it comes to posture, remember this simple tip, pull your stomach muscles towards your spine, and clench your pelvic muscles. It will feel like you’re trying to stop yourself going to the loo and will take a bit of getting used to, but it will ensure perfect posture and you’ll really work your abdominal muscles.”
- For dance classes in Joburg, visit johannesburgclasses.co.za
- For dance classes in Cape Town, visit dancecocapetown.co.za
- For dance classes in Durban, visit durbanclasses.com
A freelance writer and editor, with 15 years’ experience in the media industry. With a passion for health and fitness, Tammy loves nothing more than researching the latest wellness trends. And if she’s not running around after her sweet four-year old daughter, you’ll find Tammy on her bike, in the gym or exploring the great outdoors – followed by a good coffee, of course!