There is only one bad thing about being a Personal Trainer. In what I believe is the best industry to work in there is one scenario, which I frequently find myself in, that makes me want to tell people I’m a plumber, builder, dog trainer or wax figure sculptor.
Every other weekend I find myself at a social gathering and the dreaded question invariably comes up “What line of work are you in Adam?” I have to own up and tell people I’m a PT. Then 11 out 10 times the follow up question is: “What is the best exercise I can do to lose weight?”
It seems like a pretty simple question. There have been a tonne of different studies done by far more intelligent people than myself from scientists to exercise physiologists on control groups of 1000s of people to go from the couch potato to an elite athlete. The problem is that outside of the laboratory walls, in the real world of a 9-5 and 2.5 screaming kids, applying these spartan regimes, in the most cases…well is just unrealistic and downright boring!
How to get motivated to exercise
Let’s face it, most of us dream of being firm and toned in all of the right places, the thought of achieving this goal is motivating in itself. The end point of reaching our goals is such a beautiful thing but the journey to our chiselled abs is tough. If you think about it your workout will (if you do it right) leave you in pain, both during and for some days afterward, all the while being sweaty and probably smelly.
When you think of it that way… exercise just doesn’t sound that appealing and when we don’t see the immediate results the pain and discomfort usually pushes us off the health wagon.
Okay, let’s lose the negative talk people!
Let’s focus back on our abs. They are under there somewhere trying hard to come out. We just need to find something fun. Its this smelly pain ridden conundrum that led the fitness industry to launch aerobics in the late 60s with its break out success in the early 80s thanks to trailblazers like Jane Fonda and series of workout videos. Yes Videos! VHS!
The benefits of dance exercise
As the aerobic movement continued to grow in complexity from the Jane Fonda videos to the first ever World Aerobics Championship in 1995 where we placed third. (Here is a fun and totally useful fact; Perth hosted the 1997 World Champs!) The concept of Aerobics was simple; music, energy and fun.
It was then we saw an incorporation of Martial Arts thanks to Tai Bo and Billy Blanks and in more recent years Zumba and Konga. An amalgamation of different styles of dance choreographed to great multicultural beats came to the forefront of bodyweight exercise. Frankly, it has taken the fitness world by storm.
Dancing is an instinctive response that resides in just about everybody. Without realising it, your body wants to move and react to the music. You tap to the beat or nod your head along with the music. Your brain recognises the beat and sends messages to your reflexes, communication system and emotion system.
This is what causes individuals to feel certain emotions or trigger different memories and feelings when they hear particular songs. Many people use spontaneous dancing sessions as a way to clear their minds, to help them to think clearly and to help take a step back from situations and see it more clearly.
Not only is dance good for your mental and emotional well being, dancing is a great form of bodyweight exercise and is suitable for just about anybody! Not only does dancing help you to have fun and perhaps start to enjoy exercise, there are also plenty of benefits that will ultimately help you to get into shape.
Firstly, it is important to note that in order to benefit from dancing, you must exert yourself to the best of your ability. It is the same for all forms of training that in order to get the most out of your training, you must give it your all otherwise the desired results will not be realistic.
Studies have shown that dancing has more benefits compared to other forms of cardio training, such as running on a treadmill in the gym. Any form of cardio helps prevent sickness, improve cardiovascular health, builds stamina, strengthens and improves body composition and cardiovascular endurance.
Dancing does all of this, as well as added benefits such as improving flexibility AND muscular endurance. It needs to be reiterated however that the effort put into dancing must be 110% to ensure you get the most out of your cardio training.
Dancing makes you happy and healthy
Whether you’d like to admit it or not, it is hard to not smile when dancing. Enjoying your training is an important aspect to your exercise regime as it will prevent you from falling out of your routine. Looking forward to your training, enjoying your training and telling others about your training all help you to continue training. If you did not enjoy what you are doing you will find excuses to bail or end up resenting it, which will ultimately stop you training. Dancing does not feel like exercise which will lead you to exercising for longer and more often.
The best thing about dancing is the fact that you do not need to be good at it! Everyone can participate, everyone has fun and everyone reaps the benefits. Participating in a dance class with other people will also help if you tend to be a bit shy or self-conscious of your dance moves. Going to the back of the room, bringing a friend along or just focusing on the instructor will quell your stage fright and help you to enjoy your training.
Additionally, being an inclusive type of training, you can jump into it straight away without have to build up strength and endurance, as opposed to weight training and HIIT. All you need is a good playlist and some floor room.
Dancing is not only appropriate for everyone, it’s also safe for everyone. Dance moves are not repetitive therefore your body will not be affected by repetitive movements. What sets dancing apart from other cardio training is the ability to change up your movements and specialise them to suit your body. If you are out of breath or struggling with the intensity of a particular track, you can easily slow it down and alter your dance moves accordingly.
Particular dance classes and dance genres have different benefits that affect the body in different ways. Zumba and Konga classes are easily accessible and have quickly become the go to classes for anyone looking for a fun, effective training session. The pace is quick, the music is fun and you can burn up to 250 calories in just 30 minutes!
Ballet classes are the ultimate fitness test. An entire body workout, ballet improves your core, conditions your muscles and improves your posture. Partner dances like swing dancing and salsa dancing are not only beneficial for your health, but they are great for spending time with friends and loved ones. More commonly, going out dancing with friends is great for relaxing and letting loose. Getting on the dancefloor and dancing to your favourite songs with you friends is great therapy.
You can find dance options anywhere and everywhere. From beginners classes at studios, to ongoing classes like Konga and Zumba at fitness centres and now, the option of purchasing dancing DVDs so that you can exercise in the comfort of your home.
So why is dancing the BEST bodyweight exercise? Because it just might be the one that sticks. In my opinion, the best exercise in the world is the one you love and not the one that you dread while reaching for that snooze button while it’s still dark outside and the doona is so warm. Try everything once and you will find your fit. When it’s found it will be hard to give it up.
If you’re interested in trying dance to kick start your fitness, Bailey Fitness has a range of classes including Zumba, Konga and Les Mills. Click here to find a time to start tearing up the dance floor.