From Jazzercise to African rhythm, new global dance styles are making the journey to good health a lot more fun, says dancer Shakti Mohan
If the prospect of treadmills, dumbbells and a dozen more contraptions makes you avoid the gym, let dance come to your rescue. Choose from several contemporary styles that not only make you move your body to foot-tapping rhythms but also tone and pamper it as an effective and fun fitness regime.
Dancing can lead to a lower heart rate and blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels, and weight loss – all signs of a healthy body as well as a happy mind. And while you don’t need moves like Jagger to reap the many benefits of dancing, you do need to choose your dance style with care, depending on your body structure, strength and stamina. Here are five of the most interesting options you can pick from:
Founded in 1969, this is one of the oldest dance forms in the world, which combines jazz dancing and strength training to tone muscles and burn calories simultaneously. It builds muscle through the use of barbells and dumbbells, involves some classic Pilates and yoga movements that lengthen muscles and cardio boxing moves for an aerobic workout. Jazzercise should be done two to three times a week for effective weight loss.
One of the most energetic and fun dance forms you can opt for, African dance generally involves a combination of contemporary and traditional dance forms from Africa. Carrying with it the intense flavour of the Caribbean, this style blends great music with routines that are high on energy and extremely aerobic. It is suitable for beginners as well as experienced dancers, and can be the means to introduce yourself to a new culture too!
Urban, high-energy and challenging, hip-hop abs exercises the entire body with its quick movements and sequences. Good for beginners and veterans alike, the style derives its name from the fact that it makes ample use of your hips and waist, helping firm and tone your abs without lying on the floor and doing crunches. Isolation exercises in combination with an intense cardio workout can enable you to build a strong six-pack too! Hip-hop abs should be done for two to three days a week.
Often viewed as a slow-moving and low-impact dance form, ballet can do wonders to tone and shape your body. It demands a lot of flexibility and requires a fair amount of strength and precision for most of its positions and movements. The slow pace and posture required in ballet are similar to Pilates, and the controlled movements help build long and lean muscles. Stretching and lengthening muscles, this dance form can provide you with an intense full-body workout.
This intricate and exhilarating Latin American dance form has recently gained immense popularity as a fitness-oriented exercise. Drawing inspiration from the dance styles of cumbia, bomba and merengue, among others, salsa includes a pattern of six steps danced over eight counts of music along with several turns. It is a great choice for weight loss.
The writer is a renowned contemporary dancer and the views expressed in the article are her own