Dance Your Heart to New Highs

Dance cardio is having a moment, with video classes exploding across YouTube and some outdoor in-person classes coming together again. It’s always been a popular option for people who love to dance but don’t enjoy other kinds of workouts, and anyone looking to “shake” up their regimen.

Almost any kind of dancing on its own is great exercise — dance cardio just channels your natural tendency to dance when great music is playing into a workout session which is more about keeping you moving than perfecting any particular move or groove.

Jazzercise has persevered since its 80’s heyday to evolve with music and fitness trends. Zumba was born around the turn of the millennium as a fusion of salsa, hip-hop and other kinds of steps and has been perhaps the dominant form of dance cardio ever since.

Many more have cropped up since then, based on African rhythms, Bollywood productions, country music, ballroom, Broadway — name your favorite culture or genre, and it’s probably extended into some form of dance cardio.

Its blend of music, fitness, and fun does your body so much good, too!

  • Cardio, Cardio, Cardio
    Any kind of movement is going to get your heart pumping and blood flowing. Thirty minutes to an hour of fast-paced jumping, swaying, popping, twerking, twirling, flossing or whatever else your instructor has you do is going to get your heart thumping as loud as the beat, pushing and growing its capacity.

    Many Zumba routines are now incorporating HIIT principles by spiking heart rate with intense moves, followed by a few seconds rest.

  • Burn, Calories, Burn
    Dance cardio fires up your muscles, which draw oxygen and energy for sustenance before they can get a foothold on your body as unhealthy fat.

    Calorie burn estimates for an hour of Zumba range from 350 to 650 all the way to 900, under some circumstances. You may not be able to reach this upper range but there’s no doubt you’ll be shedding a significant amount during that class.

  • Moves Your Body
    As in, all of it! While your legs are taking the brunt of your weight, keeping up with the pace and balancing your body chisel away at your abs and bring your core to a new level of tight.

    Once you start to get comfortable with your footwork, don’t forget to use your arms too, following the instructor as best you can. Of course, none of this has to be done perfectly — it’s all about moving and sweating!

  • Pumps You Up
    Dance cardio instructors are increasingly incorporating strength and sculpting into classes, either through bodyweight moves or by adding equipment such as light dumbbells, gliding discs or resistance bands to further challenge muscles and bones.

Your legs and core are naturally going to get strong from the constantly shifting demands of dance cardio, so this add-on is just going to spread the love to your whole body!

Dre Caldwell | Photo: Blushing Cactus Photography