The Tracy Anderson method, Body by Simone and AKTInMotion are some of New York City's most popular dance cardio classes. We tried them all to learn how dancing up a storm can torch major calories and sculpt a long and lean body.
"Dance cardio elevates the heart rate and works the body in many different intervals while continuously moving throughout the 60-minute, nonstop high-intensity cardio class," says Tracy Anderson, who trains Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Richie, explaining what makes the workout so effective. "It also makes you use your own 'G' force to lift your body off the ground, burning more calories. Advanced choreography keeps the mind engaged and challenges you mentally and physically."
During the MultiTAsk Band class, which they recommend for a newbie like myself, we used resistance bands attached to the ceiling throughout the entire class, as we did dance moves, squats, lunges and more in a room heated to 86 degrees. The moves were easy to follow even for a first-timer, but still challenging.
Toward the end of the class, there's a floor routine with a mat that also uses the bands. I felt like the bands really added an extra intensity to my workout and I was totally soaked in sweat at the conclusion of the workout. Tracy recommends taking class six times a week to see maximum results.
At AKTInMotion, where Kelly Ripa is a regular, new students start with a 60-minute AKTease class, where instructors teach you dance steps and incorporate body work with free weights, medicine balls and more for a full-body workout. As you progress and learn the steps, you move up to classes with more advanced choreography and dance routines that change every two weeks.
"In dance mode, your body consistently alternates from front to back, side to side, up and down, and also rotates, so by activating more muscles in your body simultaneously, your body develops lean muscle mass in support of these movements, creating a look that is lean, and different from that of running or spinning, which can promote overactivity of just a few main muscle groups," AKT master trainer Ariel Hoffman says. "Classes can burn anywhere from 800 to 1,200 calories."
These classes are different from Zumba courses, which kicked off the dance cardio craze years ago. "Think more hip-hop, less samba," says Simone De La Rue, who trains Sandra Bullock. "My classes incorporate high-impact jumping, so you kick your heart rate up much faster."
During the class I took with Simone herself, the energetic Aussie led the group in high-energy choreographed routines that got my heart pumping as I tried to keep up with the more advanced students, who knew all the moves already. This one was the hardest for me to follow.
But Simone's philosophy is all about having fun, not being perfect. "Crank up your favorite tunes and dance like no one's watching!" Simone says. "You see results very quickly. My classes are so intense that you can burn over 700 calories. We have clients who came religiously for four weeks and dropped 20 pounds."
If you're not in NYC, all of the ladies offer online versions of their workouts and/or DVDs you can do right at home. And by doing dance cardio regularly, not only will you get into your skinny jeans but you'll have some new moves to show off the next time you hit the dance floor, too!
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