Craving the narrow, lean physique of a dancer? Toning dance workouts target smaller muscle groups to tone and slenderize the body without adding bulk. Adopting steps from ballet, Latin dance and other dance styles, these routines strengthen body hotspots for women such as the inner thighs, calves, seat muscles, hips and abs. And, just like any dance training, exercises are always followed by stretching for flexible and lengthened bodies.
When it comes to toning dance workouts, the word isometric just might be the key to a tighter tush, flatter abs, slender thighs and firmer arms. Many dance-inspired fitness routines mimic real dance steps, which use the weight of your own body to tone your muscles -- called isometric exercise. These types of dance exercises work deep into the body to develop strength and endurance in smaller muscle fibers. The result often means leaner more flexible muscles that help guard against injuries. What’s more, the low-impact workouts don’t require any dance experience. Take it from Anna Aitken, who teaches barre fitness dance workouts in New Orleans, La. Toning dance workouts depend on these “very small movements -- we’re not doing full range of motion -- so it’s low impact on your knees," she told "The Times Picayune."
Ballet Barre Fitness
Ballet-inspired dance workouts use the ballet barre as your aid to tone. With one or both hands placed on the wall-mounted barre for support, you’ll perform the ballet basics of pliés, relevés, arabesques and attitudes. Pliés incorporate knee bends usually executed in a turned-out position with feet in a “V” shape, while relevés are heel raises. Arabesques and attitudes will have your legs raised in the air either straight or bent. Targeting your seat muscles, thigh muscles and ab muscles especially, the running mantra for barre fitness exercises is “down an inch and up an inch.” Ballet fitness routines also combine mat exercises from yoga and Pilates. Light weightlifting tones the arms.
Latin-Dance Inspired Workouts
Latin dance-inspired workouts harness the fitness power of the cha cha, merengue, Rhumba and other steps. A fast-paced cardio workout, these spicy steps also target smaller muscles groups that help with balance and flexibility. Featuring dance steps that will have you moving your body up, down and side to side, the moves especially target your butt and thighs. What’s more, the dance moves performed to the sounds of salsa music don’t quite seem like exercise where you’re constantly counting the reps. “Above all, dancing is fun and you get a great, high intensity workout without realizing that you’re working out,” said Dr. Jason Cheng, an anesthesiologist at Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center in California. Cheng choreographs Latin-dance workouts for the hospital’s health and fitness events.
Tips for Toning
In order to tone muscles to the max, take a few tips from dancers. Maintain good posture by standing very straight and tall with your shoulders down, chest lifted and tailbone tucked slightly underneath you. This will help you achieve a longer line throughout the exercises and help you work the muscles effectively. Stretching is also vital in dance workouts. After muscles are worked to fatigue with isometric exercises, stretching will help develop longer and more flexible figures.
Mikel Chavers has been writing and editing since 2006, specializing in health, business, government and technology topics. She got her start as a reporter at “The Business Journal” in Greensboro, N.C., and later covered state government for a national magazine. Chavers holds a Bachelor of Arts in media studies/journalism.