Dance-based workouts combine fitness, fun

Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Jessica Hartzhold leads her class at HealthPoint Plaza in Cape Girardeau Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. (Laura Simon)

It can be easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to working out. Run on the treadmill. Lift weights. Take an aerobics class. Repeat. The solution to getting out of that rut is simple: Get in the groove, instead.

Dance-inspired workouts are increasingly popular, especially among women, as a way to combine fun and fitness.

"Dancing is fun, so people are more likely to stick with it," says Toni Craft, assistant manager of group fitness at Fitness Plus in Cape Girardeau. "If you're doing workouts with weight machines, you're using the same muscles every time. With dance workouts you're working the whole body."

Fitness Plus offers dance-based classes ranging from line dancing -- both beginner and intermediate levels -- to high-energy cardio dance, which is hip-hop inspired, to Latin-infused Zumba.

Craft says the fitness center just added its cardio dance class with about 15 people taking it. Zumba has been offered for about four years, and Craft says the class is a good workout, comparing it to interval training because of the different beats.

"The music is fun," she says. "There are a lot of Latin songs, but we throw in some radio songs, so there's some cutting loose."

Jessica Hartzold, an instructor at HealthPoint fitness, choreographs the routines for her class, JessDance.

"Everyone loves to dance but wants to get a workout," Hartzold says. "(JessDance) kind of has biometrics in it. You're up, down and shake, shake, shake." She says the class burns between 450 to 650 calories, depending on the individual.

And, according to Hartzold, you forget you're working out during the class, which usually has about 45 participants.

"You're not in the same spot, doing the exact same thing, thinking about working out and watching the clock, dreading the next five minutes," she says. "It really is like a party. People are 'woot-whooing!'"

And by the end of the class, "You're soaked in sweat," Hartzold says.

Wellness instructor Eileen Sievers, center, leads a Zumba class at Fitness Plus on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012, in Cape Girardeau. (Kristin Eberts)

But the class isn't just about having fun. Hartzold points out that dancing requires individuals to use their core. "You have to keep your abs tight and butt squeezed," she says.

As for added incentive, Hartzold says to keep one thing in mind: "You dance other places, so you have an edge on everyone else. Even though you're doing exercises, you're learning dance moves."

At The Source – Yoga 'N More, Lauren Jones teaches an intense workout that draws from ballet barre work, yoga and Pilates. The Source Barre System is "more of an exercise/fitness workout," Jones says. "It is very alignment oriented; that's why we use the three forms."

And though the class moves pretty fast -- "you never stop," Jones says -- it is also low-impact.

The Source began offering the class a year ago, and Jones says they've gotten good feedback. "I think it's because there's a little bit more of a grace component," she says. "It's not just working out to tone and build strength. There's more to do with flexibility in conjunction with overall health."

As part of that, each class ends with a five-minute relaxation. "It's a chance to lie still and chill out," Jones says. "Relaxation is part of the process of lowering stress hormones" that are related to yellow belly fat, the hardest to get rid of.

And people who've never taken a ballet, yoga or Pilates class shouldn't be intimidated by The Source Barre System. "We take a little more time, give a little more explanation" in the class, Jones says. The Source also offers Power Barre for people who want to amp it up.

In addition to the barre workouts, The Source offers cardio dance party, which Jones describes as a high-energy, hip-hop and jazz-based class.

Whatever your level of fitness, dance-based classes are a good option. Craft offers this advice to people starting a fitness routine: "Don't be intimidated. It's not a competition. Everyone starts at one time. You have to slowly build endurance."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: