Get Fit by Dancing

by Olanipekun Oladayo

July 19, 2019

Dance, simply put, is the movement of the body to a musical rhythm. For me, dance has always been a fun yet effective way to get fit. I started dancing before the age of five. At first, I only danced because it was a way for me to express happiness and also because dancing gave me joy. Unknown to me at that young age, I was making my body fit by dancing. I took a break for a while because life got in the way but later, I started feeling that I needed an enjoyable and effective way to exercise my body that I could fit into my schedule and dance was the answer, so, I got back into it. There is this misconception that getting fit has to be arduous or miserable and a lot of people tend to shy away from fitness activities because of that. Well, I will be sharing with you how you can get fit and enjoy it by dancing.

How to Get Started

Getting started is not hard as some people might think and, well, you do not have to be a good dancer before you can effectively use dance as a fitness tool. Another good thing about this activity is that there is something for everyone regardless of age – what this means is that anybody, either young or old, can find something that works for them.

Dance Games

Playing dance games is probably one of the easiest way to incorporate dance into your lifestyle because it is fun and even more fun when played with friends. This is also a great activity for kids because it helps to counter obesity while enhancing their flexibility. Examples of those games are Dance Dance Revolution (which happens to be my favorite) and Pump It Up among others.

Random “Dance Parties”

The spontaneous dances I do in the comfort of my home are what I call Random “Dance Parties”. They are not exactly dance parties but they sure feel like it. I have always done this since I was just a little girl and it really helped me back then. What I do is that I turn up the music volume and I just dance and have fun. I always say it is always a dance party in my bathroom because every time I want to take my bath, I take my mini speaker with me and I dance while taking my bath. The moves are not usually complicated at all and there are times I sort of do a dance routine I learned during rehearsals. I tend to focus on my hips a lot because it is easy and well, I have had a thing for belly dancing ever since I discovered Bollywood, Shakira and belly-dance at a young age. It is always a great way to start the day but you have to be careful because it is easy to get carried away and get late to school, work or anywhere else you have to be. Also, whenever I have not been physically active or if I have been feeling a little bit down, I dance in my bedroom or living room and the moves are usually a bit complicated this time around because there is usually space and time. Normally, I do not time myself and I always have so much fun that I end up dancing for hours. It is also a fun activity that parents can do with their kids.

Dance Classes

Do a little research and find out about the type of dance classes available around where you live. There are so many options to choose from, so, choose what really works for you. You could go for the normal dance classes or you could for dance classes solely meant for fitness. Because of the nature of what I do, I go for normal dance classes and I dabble into so many dance styles and that works for me. You could go for swing dance, tap dance, afro-pop, salsa, jazz or any of the other available dance styles. If you are interested in dance styles solely meant for fitness you could go for Zumba classes, Broadway dance, Bokwa or any of the other available options. Before making a choice, you can attend a couple of different classes and take note of how you feel about the dance and the instructor because how much you vibe with the dance and the instructor will determine to a large extent your fitness and skill growth.

Online Workout Platforms and DVDs

If you do not have the time or money to go for studio classes,  you can always download relevant apps, get dance workout videos on the internet or buy workout DVDs. I have a couple of those apps and I just love the ease that comes with using them. If you do not have access to some of the needed equipment at home, you can always improvise.

Dance Clubs/Groups

Joining a dance club/group helps you to stick to your goals and you also get to meet a lot of people. Being a part of a dance group has helped me to be consistent as I get to learn from others too. Before joining a dance group/club, you should do some research so as to know if the group you want to join will be a perfect fit for you.

Tips For Beginners

1.Wear Appropriate Clothing and Footwear

Most dances require clothing that does not restrict movement. Personally, I prefer a good pair of leggings because they are usually comfortable and affordable. Also, I love wearing socks because I can use them for so many dance styles and they ease the movement of the feet against the floor. A good pair of sneakers are also a must-have. It is not advisable to dance with bare feet because, after a while, the friction between the floor and your feet will cause the skin of the feet to start peeling.

2. Keep Yourself Hydrated

Drink enough water before, during and after a workout. This is very important, If you are going for a class or dancing in the comfort of your home, make sure you have access to water throughout the entire process.

3.Stretch

Stretching before dancing is important because it loosens your muscles and improves your flexibility so that you can go into the physically demanding moves with more ease.

4. Eat Well

Dancing requires energy and that is why it is very important to eat well. Every time I have a dance class, I always make sure I eat no matter how busy I may be. In the past, I have been in some situations where I have been unable to give my best during dance rehearsals because I was feeling weak as a result of not eating well. Not eating will lead to distractions.

5. Rest

Let your body rest every now and then. Do not push yourself too hard as this could lead to injuries or you could end up losing interest. Overworking your body takes the fun out of it and takes a toll on your body.

5. Be Consistent

Do not miss any of your dance classes or workout sessions. Doing so will cause regress in fitness growth.

What to Expect

Fast-Paced Teaching

Beginners may have a hard time keeping up during dance classes because they are usually fast-paced but do not let this deter you and just have fun. The more you dance, the faster you will be able to keep up.

Hard Moves

Some moves will seem hard but do not think that you are incapable of doing those moves. Just get into it and give it your best. The more you practice, the better you will get at it.

Sore Muscles

Do not let sore muscles deter you. In fact, that pain you feel is proof that you are doing something right and you are getting somewhere. The more you dance, the more your body will adjust.

 

Benefits

Dance has so many physical, mental and emotional benefits. As a dancer, I must say I have gained a lot from dancing and my physical and mental health generally improved when I started dancing again. Dancing made me very happy and fit when I was a child and it is one of the main reasons why I am happy and fit as a young adult. Dance has made me more flexible, my memory has gotten a little bit better, my social skills have definitely improved because I get to meet a lot of people and I feel good most of the time because I exercise more now. It has also been therapeutic for me because it is a means for me to reduce stress and just let go.

Olanipekun Oladayo

By Olanipekun Oladayo

Olanipekun Oladayo, a writer and a Nursing Student at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), writes short stories (fiction and nonfiction), poetry and lyrics.

Read more at olanipekunoladayo.com

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