3 dance styles that beat gym workouts

November 3, 2015

Many people have trouble getting motivated to exercise, despite its critical importance to overall health and well-being. Dancing, whether in a classroom or a club setting, has the same benefits as a gym membership, but with a twist. Instead of being forced to participate, most dancers can't wait for their next chance to get moving. Check out the opportunities below to learn a variety of dance styles regardless of experience, all of which provide an excellent substitute for dull workouts at the gym.

3 dance styles that beat gym workouts

1. Salsa

  • Though salsa music and dance technically made their debuts in New York City, this style has deep roots in Latin America.
  • In the 1970s, popular Cuban and Puerto Rican dances that included Mambo, Son and Cha Cha Cha started to intertwine with West African and Caribbean dances with a lively, vigorous result.
  • Salsa dancers have a wide assortment of clubs to choose from if they wish to show their skill on a public dance floor.
  • For those who prefer to learn in a more private setting, many studios offer classes in levels that range from beginner to expert.
  • Either way, there is no need for an aerobic class when salsa is on the exercise schedule.

2. Swing

  • In the first half of the 20th century, the swing style of jazz was born, featuring the rhythms and sounds native to West Africa.
  • Many popular dances evolved to match the unexpected beats of swing jazz, including the Lindy Hop, Jive, Jitterbug and Charleston.
  • Of course, these moves need to be synchronized and perfectly timed in order to give the illusion of fluidity, and a large crop of dance studios have opened to fill the needs of beginners.
  • New dancers of all ages sign up with swing instructors every day, even if they have never danced a step.
  • The sheer energy expended to bring swing dancing to life easily beats hours on the treadmill -- both for calories burned and level of fun.

3. Belly dancing

  • For centuries, belly dancing has been a feature of Middle Eastern social events, performed by both men and women.
  • Despite its name, belly dancing is a workout for the whole body, demanding strength and endurance from the arms, legs and torso.
  • While there haven't been many belly dancing venues popping up in the nightlife scene, classes and performance opportunities have become more common worldwide.
  • Participants of both genders enjoy the concentration and skill required to isolate individual muscle groups, and the toning that comes along with frequent practice exceeds that of endless sit-ups and crunches at the gym.
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