Get inventive with your activity time.
There's a dance style to suit all tastes and levels, but stop to consider a few points to make sure you get the most out of your class:
- What music do you like: jazz, hip-hop, swing, urban - most dance classes revolve around the music, so it makes sense that you'll enjoy the class if the music is 'your thang'.
- Look at what's on offer, from traditional ballet and ballroom to street dance, modern tap or contemporary dance.
- Don't just stick to what you know - something completely different such as belly dancing, break dancing and line dancing will really liven you up.
- Pick your favourite country and try their traditional dance. There are plenty of Spanish and South American options, like Lambada, Salsa and Flamenco. Choose from Bollywood grooves, Chinese dance, African, Egyptian, Japanese, Greek... the list goes on.
- If you don't feel brave enough to get straight in the classroom try a dance video in the privacy of your living room.
Benefits: Dancing can be a comparatively painless form of cardiovascular exercise (smoochy slow dancing doesn't count here, sorry). Regular dance sessions will improve your stamina, build muscle strength, slow your heart rate, reduce cholesterol and help you maintain healthy bones. It's also a great way to lose weight: 30 minutes of dancing will burn between 200 and 400 calories. As well as the physical benefits, dancing is great for improving co-ordination and concentrating the mind; learning dance sequences will really help improve your memory. Dancing is a great stress release, a good dance will make you smile and laugh, leaving you exhilarated and inspired.
Drawbacks: There should be a very low risk of injury from dancing if you follow instructions carefully, but make sure you always warm up properly or you could end up with pulled muscles. Ouch.
What do I need? Lycra is usually optional, so just kit yourself out in some loose fitting clothes: tracky bottoms and a t-shirt will do. If you're opting for ballet, special ballet tights and shoes are important as they will help you to move more freely and the teacher will need to see what your body is doing. Some types of dancing may require special gear when you get more advanced.
Capoeira is a traditional fusion of martial arts and dance that's kicked and twisted its way to the UK from South America.
- African slaves in Brazil created Capoeira over 500 years ago. They developed the moves to convince their captors they were practising ritual dancing when really they were developing a strategic fighting technique.
- An intense physical and mental challenge between two 'players', Capoeira is characterised by deceptive kicks, sweeps, trip-em-ups, head butts, and elbow and knee movements.
- Classes will often be accompanied by musical instruments, drums, clapping and singing. Fast tempos instigate games where the players throw fast, powerful kicks and blows at each other, with gymnastic movements. Slower tempos prompt more dance like moves, and more deception between the two players.
Benefits: A world away from your aerobics class, Capoeira will give you a cardiovascular work out. Your mind and your body work together as you concentrate on anticipating your opponent's next move. If you're concerned with your couch potato status preventing you becoming a Capoeira champion, don't panic. Being creative and inventive with your moves will keep your opponents on their toes while you build up your strength. And you'll be so busy learning and perfecting your moves, you won't even notice your thighs toning. As well as increasing strength and agility, practising this art form will boost your self-confidence and teach you some nifty self-defence techniques.
Drawbacks: The only thing that will stop you enjoying this exercise is your confidence. It's up to you to keep persevering until you are competent - which could take some time.
What do I need? Loose white trousers and a white T-shirt are the traditional dress for Capoeira, although some clubs do have a set uniform. There's a grading system with a different coloured belt representing each stage, similar to other martial arts like judo or karate. Colours and grades vary between clubs and classes.
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