I tend to go on and on about all the joys associated with dancing and how great it can be for your soul and your happiness level. I tell everyone to feel the music and enjoy the liberating qualities of movement…
Today, I thought I would go over some of the actual physical benefits of taking a dance class. Yes, there are those too. (Haa!)
If you know me, then you know that I will not (and cannot) get all sciency about it. This will just be a brief explanation…don’t be scared.
It is pretty obvious how being up on your feet jumping around is good for your leg muscles and is great cardio, but there is some very specific muscle conditioning that goes on in a dance class.
There are releves (rises on the balls of your feet) that are perfect for making strong calves. Plies (like squats) are where the powerful thighs come from. Tendues, degages, frappes…pretty much all exercises at the barre target every muscle in your leg and glutes. For example, degage works both inner and outer thigh and tush. It is like the adductor/abductor machine at the gym. I call it the thigh master move.
Ballet barre is like being a human gym.
When you are at the barre one hand pretty much always rests on it and the other arm is in use. At minimum it is being held out to the side for the entire exercise or it does its own positions to match the leg. It can be a killer arm work-out and no weight is necessary. Keeping your arms up and in use creates long, lean muscles and will not bulk up the arm which is a worry for some women.
So far, doing some basic ballet barre exercises has provided you with a complete arm and leg fitness routine and I haven’t even mentioned about the increased flexibility or core work…the abdominal benefits….the back strength.
While doing all of these dance exercises it is proper form to keep your abs sucked in, your shoulders back, have great posture, keep your back straight…your core is engaged every second. This is what helps create the dancer’s body, keeps you having correct alignment and makes you extremely strong. When the leg is lifted it is done using the stomach muscles. Every dance step requires your abs to be flexed and in use.
Ok, so what I am saying here is that dancing is really a total body work-out. No weights. No machines. It gets the job done by using all major muscles simultaneously. There is muscle conditioning, cardio and stretching, which meets all of the recommendations for a healthy fitness regimen. You can bend and balance your way to strong abs and never do a crunch or a sit-up.
Strong arms…no push ups.
Am I overselling? Too much hype?
Well, you do have to like music and moving though. It is still dance. Also, professional dancers do these exercises everyday to have the strength they have and look the way they do. It is not magic. It is hard work, and repetition is everything.
Not just ballet or barre, all dance classes will follow a similar formula and will give you an amazing work-out. That guy on TV is completely right that Hip-Hop can sculpt you some awesome abs. Modern dance also really works the stomach muscles as you contract and release and balance. Jazz has many of the barre exercises but done in the centre where your core will be engaged for every move. Kicks, turns…lots of jumping…Dance can have every body part in use from your fingers (literally) to your toes.
All types of dancing offer you extraordinary physical benefits so I am highly recommending it to you now.
Lose the weights and machines and give a dance class a try. Not a dance inspired group fitness class…try a real dance class. You might be surprised.
No tutu required and a great work-out will be had!
I’ll stop now. See, I didn’t get sciency. You’re welcome.
Ok, Shoulders back. Suck in the stomach. Chin up. Squeeze the glutes…