Aerobic workouts are some of the most popular forms of exercise – an estimated 24 million Americans participate in them [Source: American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine]. Dance is an aerobic workout, structured in a similar manner as other aerobic classes. While the dance style may vary, class structures are often quite similar. Typically class begins with a warm-up period, which may run anywhere from five to 30 minutes and include exercises to raise your temperature and blood flow, loosen and stretch your muscles. The warm-up period will transition into an intense dance routine intended to increase your heart rate and get you moving and sweating, ending with five to 10 minutes of cool-down exercises to help reduce muscle soreness.
Let's look at some of the most popular options. Jazzercise is a classic dance-fitness routine and one of the most well-known dance workouts. These hour-long classes (also available on DVDs to use at home) combine jazz dance with strength training, as well as Pilates, yoga and even some elements of kickboxing, all set to today's current music, from popular Top 40 songs to country and everything in between.
If you're looking for upbeat and intense, look for Zumba, belly dancing, swing or salsa dancing classes. Zumba, for example, is a workout done to a Latin beat (although some classes will have you sweating to hip-hop and other energetic music). It combines calorie-burning cardio with a core muscle workout and interval training to help tone and sculpt your body.
For those in search of a different type of intensity in their dance workout, look for Yoga Trance Dance or Nia classes. Yoga Trance Dance is a free-flowing exercise that combines yoga poses, meditation and free-form movement channeled into collective energy. Nia, on the other hand, is a workout made up of 52 movements that combine dance, martial arts and healing arts, and it works your core muscles and upper extremities.
Dance-fitness classes are available for beginners, intermediate and advanced fitness levels, and some provide more of a workout than others. If you've let exercise slide off your calendar or are looking for a new type of workout, read on for tips on how to find the right dance workout for you.