Some people are born with a love for exercise and movement, but if you’re not one of them, finding the motivation to start getting fit can be a challenge. Just thinking about spending hours on the elliptical, going nowhere, or huffing and puffing as you jog through your neighborhood is enough to make many of us want to quit an exercise program before we even get started. Lifting weights is great, but what if you don’t have access to a gym, know which exercises to do, or have an understanding of proper form? Luckily, you don’t have to be an exercise aficionado or a personal trainer to get fit if you choose to incorporate dance fitness at home into your routine. Getting started isn’t complicated, and you won’t need much prep before you’re moving and shaking all over your living room.
There are so many benefits that make dancing one of the best workouts out there, but one of the most important is that dance workouts are fun! Sticking to a fitness routine after the initial excitement wears off is one of the biggest challenges anyone on a fitness journey will face, and it’s that much harder if you feel like you’re forcing yourself to do an exercise you don’t enjoy. Dancing is so much fun that it doesn’t feel like a chore! There are also many other benefits associated with dance, including, but not limited to:
- Total body workout: With the possible exception of swimming, there’s no exercise that targets your entire body more effectively than dance and burns calories. No matter which form of dance you choose to do, every part of your body will be moving and engaged throughout the entire song, helping to start sculpting and toning all of your muscle groups with a low impact workout. Unlike weight training with dumbbells or weights, which focuses on a different group of muscles each day, or repetitive motions like running, which focus on the legs, dancing touches every muscle.
- Core strength: More than 80 percent of Americans will experience low back pain at some point in their lives, and one of the best ways to prevent this frequently chronic pain is through the strengthening of the core muscles. Your core is made up of your abdominals, the muscles in your lower back, and your glutes, and dancing is an excellent core strengthener thanks to all the twisting and turning with each movement. The best part is that dancing works your core in a functional and natural way, so you’re less likely to get injured.
- Cognitive function: The results are in: study after study has shown that dancing reduces cognitive decline and can help improve brain function, particularly in older adults. Dancing is associated with a wide range of cognitive benefits, including everything from memory improvement to stronger neuronal connections, and it has been shown to lower the risk of dementia in the elderly.
Choosing a Dance Workout Video
Now that you know how great dance is for you, it’s time to choose a dance home workout video. There are several factors when you choose which cardio dance workout video to start with, including your previous dance experience (if any), injuries or physical limitations, musical preferences, and fitness level. If you don’t have much dance cardio workout experience, it’s a good idea to start off with a video that markets itself for beginners. These videos will often walk you through the choreography step by step and work through each movement before stringing them all together. People with injuries or other physical limitations should look for videos that offer modifications, or different versions of the same dance. For example, if you have an old shoulder injury and can’t raise your arms above your head, it is helpful to have a dancer in the video modeling the movements that you can do and not one that is too high intensity. Not only does this help you participate more fully and feel included, it also helps avoid injury by making sure you don’t try anything that could cause a flare up. Of course, it also makes sense to consider the type of music that you like when choosing a dance video/ dance party! You can find everything from hip-hop, bollywood, latin dance, tabata, or country music and everything in between, and many videos also use a variety of different types of music if you want to mix it up a little. Finally, if you are just getting started on your fitness journey, also look for videos marketed to beginners. Faster paced workouts are great for cardio, but they might be overwhelming if you’re just starting a new workout plan. Remember, finding your new favorite video might take some trial and error, which is why it’s a great idea to join an online fitness community like BodyFx. Not only will you have access to hundreds of dance video workouts, you’ll also receive personalized nutrition guidance, fitness plans, email coaching, and the support of a group of people that are just as dedicated to their fitness goals as you are.
One of the best things about incorporating dance fitness at home is that you won’t need much to get started. You’ll need a way to play your video, such as a tablet, laptop, or tv, and you’ll definitely want to make sure you have plenty of space to move around. Don’t be afraid to move the furniture! Also, make sure you are wearing supportive, comfortable shoes that won’t slip on the floor or cause blisters. You don’t need special dance shoes to get started – sneakers are fine – but you’ll be moving around a lot, so make sure they stay put. As far as workout clothes, you don’t necessarily need anything special to get started. Of course, if you want to get a leotard and some leg warmers, you can, but otherwise, comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely will work just fine. As you continue to dance and work up a sweat, you may want to consider investing in some moisture-wicking workout clothes to keep you cool and comfortable. Finally, don’t forget your water bottle! You’ll be getting sweaty in no time, and staying hydrated is important.