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We all know that exercise and being fit is part of having a healthy lifestyle.
But are you the type of person who hates going to the gym? Does the thought of having to run on a treadmill or spinning make you quiver?

For most of us, getting into a routine is the hardest part because of adherence and, let’s be honest, running on a treadmill isn’t the most exciting exercise either.

As a result of boredom with traditional exercise, many fitness fanatics are now switching over to dancing to get themselves into shape. Not only is it a stress reliever and therapeutic, but it is a great form of exercise, because of its aerobic and anaerobic movements.

While aerobic exercise can be achieved by jumping, swaying and twirling, anaerobic exercises include holding squat positions, lifting someone else or your own body, and balancing.

According to Debbie Calder, a professional dancer and dance teacher from Just Move dance fitness studio in Cape Town, there are endless ways of getting fit through dancing, as dance fitness incorporates the body in a unique way by lengthening the muscles. Dancing doesn’t focus on bulking up the big muscle groups in the body - rather, it creates balance by using big and small muscle groups in a dynamic way that develops a lean physique.

South Africa is one of the countries experiencing a boom in fitness dancing, with various types of dance fitness studios popping up everywhere, offering forms of dancing, such as salsa, ballet and pole dancing.

Choosing the right one may be confusing and stressful at times.

Calder says that before joining a dance class, the most important thing to consider is having an open mind: “Dance can be seen as an intimidating venture, but keep in mind that everyone starts off as a beginner. It is also important to find a teacher who understands your body and who can guide you towards a better state of health without risk of injury.”

She adds that each dance class has a different purpose and health benefits. If you want to strengthen your muscles, Calder suggests you should consider taking the Dance Fitness Class.

Dance fitness class

“This class is a combination of fun dance cardio routines, followed by core strengthening exercises and stretching. The class is aimed at strengthening, toning and sculpting the entire body.”

Traditionally done by professional dancers, ballet and contemporary dancing such as jazz, lyrical and classical ballet is now being turned into fitness dances.

Contemporary dance classes

Everyone wants to have the perfect summer body without sweating at a conventional gym to get to the desired fitness level.

That could be achieved in a number of ways, such as a body-conditioning dance class. This class involves a sequence of exercises aimed at strengthening, toning and lengthening your muscles. It focuses on using correct alignment, strengthening legs and core; and increasing flexibility. Calder says the body dance class is popular among men, unlike most of the dance classes dominated by females. “Society perceives dance as a more accessible form of exercise for women, but it can be beneficial for everyone.”

Pole dancing

Natasha Williams of BodyMind Studios in Johannesburg and the Pole Dance Sports Association of South Africa says pole-dancing classes are fun, sexy and will leave you feeling confident.

“Pole dancing not only tones and helps you to lose weight, but the strength you build will give you a stronger core, stronger heart muscles and give your body the best workout ever.”

She explains that women move their bodies in different ways to men. They are flowing and move in a circular shape, whereas men are more mechanical and focus on one body part at a time, with an up-and-down motion.

“Most of the fitness forms available today focus on male movement. Gyms have exercise machines that target specific body parts and are purely mechanical in nature.

“This is one of the main reasons why women find gym extremely boring.”

For pole dancing for beginners, she suggests pole basics, which is great for those who want a slightly slower-paced class.

For those who are feeling more daring, she suggests sensual fitness. “It’s like an aerobics class, but without the jumping. It puts together a routine using feminine movements that work the rest of your body.

“It focuses on abs, booty, love handles and thighs, and all those yummy areas that women have.”

The core benefits of these classes are toning, losing weight, confidence, core strength, conditioning and faster and more engaging exercise.