As someone with two degrees in exercise and sport science, I'm no stranger to a tough workout. I've CrossFitted, I've run 10-mile races, I've tried barre and Pilates and yoga... even on a paddleboard. I've led classes through boxing workouts and group cycling routines. Really, there's nothing I won't try.
I like to sweat, and I like to sweat hard.
But sometimes when it's cold and dreary outside, or when I just don't feel like putting on shoes and heading to the gym, I crank up the music and let myself loose.
The beauty of dancing for fitness is that it harnesses your emotions — music can make you laugh, cry, jump, shout and let it all out. Just the other day, I put together a Girl Power playlist on Spotify and jammed out — pumping my fists, singing along and generally acting a fool. An hour went by before I knew it and I was happy, tired and ready to tackle the rest of my day.
While there are lots of reasons to take up dance for fitness, these five top my personal list.
I work in fitness, and I work from home. I spend almost all day every day in sweats, T-shirts and sports bras. And while I know I'm perfectly capable of throwing on some heels and a slick of red lipstick to glam up my life, it's easy to fall into the less-than-sexy pattern of rolling out of bed, stumbling into my office and then staying there until my husband comes home.
Taking 30 minutes to put on some tunes (Beyoncé, Christina and Rihanna are a few favorites) and tap into my inner diva gives me the chance to remember that I'm a sexy, confident woman. I can't think of a woman alive who doesn't deserve that feeling.
Life isn't always perfect. Sometimes you have to drop everything and run, leaving your trip to the gym in the dust. I've been there many a time, but just because one fitness plan gets foiled doesn't mean you should ditch your workout altogether. I've danced at my sister's house when I unexpectedly had to baby-sit my niece. I've danced for hours in a car while driving to see a friend. I've danced on the street while taking a walk in the middle of the night, and of course, I've danced in the comfort of my own home. Since all you need is music and your body, there's no excuse not to bust a move.
No dress code, no equipment
Boxing workouts require boxing bags. Step aerobics require an aerobic step. Many strength training routines require weights. Dance requires nothing. There's nothing to buy, and really, there's little to no dress code, especially if you're dancing at home. I've broken it down wearing a full on sweat suit and I've broken it down wearing nothing but my birthday suit. It's a beautiful thing to know you can just show up, dance your heart out and wrap up, with no other requirements or strings attached.
It's a break from the common workout
It's easy to get caught in a cycle of boring workouts, "Strength train on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and run on Monday, Wednesday, Friday." It doesn't take long before boredom sets in and you start dreading your workouts.
As someone with self-proclaimed "exercise ADD," I know I have to keep my workouts fresh, fun and new to stick with them. Dance gives me the chance to break things up. Sometimes I take a class, sometimes I search for new YouTube videos, but mostly, I just do my own thing. Regardless, it always leaves me with a clear head and ready to stick with my ongoing routine.
I can jam out to my favorite tunes
I love music, but I'm bad at listening to it. That sounds stupid, right? Because I work from home, I don't have much of an opportunity to listen to music in the car, and because I'm not the type to listen to music while I work (and I work almost all the time), dancing gives me the perfect excuse to come up with new playlists and dig out old CDs. Every time I turn on the stereo, I'm reminded just how much music means to me, and it lifts my mood, leaving me feeling refreshed and happy.
Question to readers:
Do you dance for fitness? What's your favorite music to jam out to?
Tell us in the comments section below.
More on fitness
5 Exercise classes, no gym required
5 Cardio workouts you can do at home