Use dance-inspired exercises to achieve your ultimate fitness goals.
With summer setting in and the outdoors seeming ever inviting, the enthusiasm to get fit and feeling fabulous is equally enticing. While there may be some tried and true methods you swear by, here are five dance influenced fitness tips that can boost your work-out routine.
1.Low Impact Cardio
Low impact cardio such as power walking asks the muscles to elongate similar to the movements required of ballet, and certain styles of jazz, contemporary and hip hop, but does not put too much load on the quads that can potentially bulk up the legs. If muscular thighs are what you desire (and many do) then by all means, running or walking on an incline coupled with squats is the workout for you, but for those that want a longer line, it is best to power walk at speeds of 4.0-4.3 at 0 incline for 30 minutes to one hour. The long strides taken while walking encourage leg muscles to lengthen while activating the glutes and hamstrings. I even suggest including short increments with light weights in hand for 2-3 minutes and a bit of twisting in the upper body while you walk. It will certainly give you a full body conditioning experience and a lean, toned look, should you desire.
2.Target the abs
I always include a power-packed 3-minute and 30-second ab-cardio push at the end of my warmups. The exercise also asks for various positioning of the legs, articulations of the feet and elongating behind the knees in certain positions, which aids in building fine motor skill coordination, while targeting the abs. It requires you to lay on your back with arms behind your head and knees bent with the feet placed firmly on the floor or a soft yoga mat in parallel position at about the width of the pelvis. You can measure the width of your pelvic bone by finding the two boney structures on the front of your pelvis and aligning your feet with them. Lift your lower abdominals to feel the lower back elongated and touching the floor. With hands placed behind the head, lift shoulder blades off the floor and keep them off the floor for the entire sit up combination. Ultimately, you should feel that you are pulsing up and down by never placing your head and shoulders on the floor between sit ups. This will fatigue the lower abdomen (which is what we want to do) and produce abs that are flat like a sheet, rather than on top of your stomach.
3.Don’t forget to stretch
Stretching is so important to maintain along your fitness journey! In one of my areas of expertise, which is jazz dance, I take students in my class through a comprehensive stretch warm up that focuses on lengthening every muscle group from A-Z. The average person may not be able to do the intense (sometimes downright crazy) stretches that dancers do, but it is still very important to stretch both before and after a workout. You want to make sure to target things that are commonly injured such as hamstrings, quads, calves, and triceps. Warm up the neck and shoulders before doing any lifting or upper body isometric resistance exercises. Each stretch should last at least 60 seconds to be effective and you should avoid bouncing while in stretch positions.
4.Drink water—add lemon and electrolytes.
Drinking water is a commonly known necessity for working out but adding lemon and electrolytes to your water will give you a much-needed charge to get through a long sweaty session in the gym. On average, a person who has an active lifestyle needs to drink at least 64oz of water per day. That’s a lot of water, but your body will also get a much better and sustained workout if it is properly hydrated, especially if you choose to work out outside where the sun is more intense. Add electrolytes packed with B vitamins, as well as lemon. B12 gives you an added natural energy boost. If you are not a coffee drinker, this is a great way to avoid caffeine in your day and still have the extra energy you need. As far as lemon, it has multiple functions! It provides a potassium boost, it has oxidative properties that fight off disease, it helps prevent kidney stones and aids in digestion—need I say more?
5.Add a movement practice that targets ROM
Targeting range of motion helps increase flexibility and agility for fitness too. Conditioning exercises can be extremely valuable and accessible to someone who doesn’t dance. To do so, many take Pilates classes as well as practice the Gyrotonic Expansion System which has two methods: the Gyrotonic method and the Gyrokinesis method. Pilates can be done on a reformer or mat and is a well-known practice in 2022, but I would suggest that those that are new to the form (and especially those who struggle with lower back pain) go to a class with a professional so that they can be expertly guided through the practice. Pilates will mainly help with postural alignment and flexibility. Gyrotonic exercises are about movement flow; the goal is to allow the body to move through a natural range of motion without placing pressure on the joints. With the Gyrotonic Expansion System there is an additional emphasis on opening energy pathways and stimulating the nervous system; these are all good things to help increase your range of motion.