Let’s face it: Running for miles on the treadmill isn’t the most exciting form of exercise. Dance exercise routines let you break out of the ordinary gym workout. Taking cues from Latin dance, ballet, belly dancing and even pole dancing, these workouts get your body moving and sweating. Many dance fitness classes also offer low-impact, isometric exercises that use the weight of your own body to tone and slenderize your muscles to create that dancer physique. Because of this, people of all ages and varying degrees of fitness -- even pregnant women -- can dance to the rhythm of a different workout.
Latin-Inspired Dance Workouts
The salsa, merengue, cha cha and other steps form the basis for Latin-dance workouts surging in popularity. In fact, the Latin-inspired dance workout routine has made the top 20 fitness trends of the year, according to the latest fitness trends survey from the American College of Sports Medicine. High-energy steps performed to the beat of South American tunes target your butt, thighs and abs. This cardio workout is more about moving to the music than the reps. Classic steps include the merengue crossover and salsa box step. Featuring Latin dance-inspired hip movements and level changes that get you bending up and down, the fast-paced steps will especially target your gluteal and thigh muscles.
Ballet Barre Fitness
Ballet fitness workouts give students the strengthening and toning benefits of ballet without the pointe shoes, the classical training and the hours of rehearsals for “The Nutcracker.” Just like ballet dancers, you’ll use the wall-mounted ballet barre for support while you bend your knees in a plié. These ballet barre classes aim to reproduce characteristics of long and lean ballerina bodies, including lifted derrieres, toned arms, slender thighs and flattened abs. Many combine dance moves such as pliés, relevés and arabesques with light weight lifting and Pilates-type mat workouts. Intense exercise steps are always followed by stretching sequences to help develop long -- not bulky -- muscles.
Originating in Middle Eastern countries, belly dancing is actually a named coined by Western countries for this traditional folk dance. Turns out, the hip dropping and shaking moves especially target the muscles of your core: the abdominal, pelvic and gluteal muscles. Classic steps such as hip circles feature a motion similar to the one you make to hulu hoop. The hip drop step, another basic exercise, is often used to target the oblique muscles of the abs. The rib slide step, an exercise where you stand with feet together and move only your ribs from right to left, also targets the oblique muscles.
Pole Dancing Fitness
Just as there are many styles of dance, there are even more flavors of exercise dance routines. Pole dancing workouts use a vertical pole to work the abs, butt and thigh muscles featuring gravity defying moves, according to the American Pole Fitness Association. Classic moves like the Fireman require the arms and abdomen to spin and slide down the pole with one leg wrapped around it. Core and upper body strength are needed to do this kind of routine, pole fitness instructor Andrea Harper said in an interview with "Metro Ottawa."
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- American College of Sports Medicine: News Releases: Survey Predicts Top 20 Fitness Trends for 2012
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