Any physical activity that raises your heart rate for an extended period of time is going to improve your fitness, so why not make it fun? A great way to accomplish this is to introduce Latin dancing into your fitness regimen. With fast-tempo music and moves that concentrate on exaggerated movements in your hips, legs and arms, Latin dancing is an effective and increasingly popular form of exercise.
Find a class at a local dance studio or gym. Many dance studios offer classes in specific styles such as Tango, Salsa and Merengue. Often, classes combine two or more styles to give a broad overview of "Latin dance." Latin dancing has become so popular that gyms are offering classes along with, or in place of, traditional aerobics classes. These classes tend to focus more on the aerobic aspect of the moves and not as much on style.
Check out Latin clubs and find out if they offer classes. Often, there will be informal dance classes offered before the club opens or early in the evening. If you decide to go this route and stay for a night of dancing, keep in mind that drinking may sabotage your plan for exercise.
Find a Zumba class. Zumba is a fitness program that combines Latin-inspired dancing with belly dancing and world beats. Instructional DVDs are available and classes are offered at gyms all over the country.
Turn on the music and dance. Close the blinds and shimmy in your living room. Find a Shakira video and try to keep up. All you really need to do to burn calories and get fit is to move around and get your heart-rate up.
Core Exercises: Latin Dance & Rhythm
Latin dancing works the muscles of your core through fun dance moves done to Latin-inspired music. It may take some time before a regular dance class will show results, because you'll need to learn complicated moves and rely on your partner to dance with, but Latin Dance DVDs and classes such as the Core Rhythms Exercise Program and Zumba work your core with simple choreography. If your local gym does not offer Zumba classes, you can buy DVDs.
How to Begin
There are no actual core exercises in Latin dance. That is what makes it fun. No crunches, no planks, nothing that you would find in a Pilates or strength-training course. Instead, you exercise your core as you maintain good posture while you dance. You should also have your abdominals pulled in. This position is basically an abdominal contraction. Holding an abdominal contraction while marching, side stepping, lunging and swiveling your hips will really work your core. Try this by sitting in a chair with your feet on the floor and your back straight. Pull your belly button in as if trying to press it to your spine. Place your hands on your stomach to check that you are doing this correctly. Hold for 10 seconds. Now, stand up and pull in your abs. Then, try to march in place and do it. Even 10 seconds may be tough to hold while marching. Keep your back straight and do not allow your buttocks to stick out
Zumba classes offer simple choreography and high-energy instructors that will take you through simple moves to tighten your core and burn calories. Zumba involves a lot of hip shaking, side stepping, knee lifting and some spins. You work your core in multiple ways through all of these movements. One such exercise is to stand with your feet hip-width apart and bring your right knee up toward your left shoulder. At the same time, you'll bring both of your arms out to your left side, with your right arm crossing your chest. This rotation will work your oblique muscles, which are core muscles of your waist. You'll also work your lower ab and back to stabilize your body as you lift your knee. You may do two or four on one side and then do the same number on the other, whatever your instructor is doing that day.
Other moves may involve hip circles. Bend your knees and make circles with your hips, first in one direction and then the other. You may also try figure eights where you'll make a half-circle clockwise to the left and then another half-circle counter-clockwise to the right, or vice versa. This requires your whole core to work together. Be sure to maintain that abdominal contraction at all times.
The Core Rhythms Program has two Latin-specific DVDs, "Latin Dance Made Easy" and "Latin Cardio Jam." The "Latin Dance Made Easy" DVD teaches you three dances: the rumba, salsa and merengue. Because you are learning actual dance moves for these classic dances, you are not getting as good of a workout, but you are learning to dance. You can still practice your abdominal contractions. The "Latin Cardio Jam" DVD is faster-paced and gives you a better core workout. You can also check out the program's other DVDs for variety and challenge.
An example of a Core Rhythms move to work your core is the home beat. You march in place with your arms held to your sides at shoulder height and crunch your torso to the beat. You actually pull in your ab muscles as you round your back and bring your shoulders toward your hips slightly. This is a standing abdominal crunch while marching to music.
Core Rhythms Exercise
The Core Rhythms Exercise Program is a series of DVDs that use Latin dance moves and music to provide benefits to your cardiorespiratory system and core muscles. The program, created by Jaana Kunitz and Julia Powers, is appropriate for all fitness levels
Dancing works the muscles of your core while you shake your hips and crunch your torso. To use the program effectively to target your core muscles, begin with the Kick Start DVD. This DVD will break down basic moves so that you learn to do them properly. Good form means better results and less chance of injuries. Take advantage of the ability to change the camera angle so you can better see the instructor. Most DVDs show you exercises only face on. You may miss important details this way. Master these basic moves and then move on to the Quick Workout DVD and the Full Workout DVD. Lower Body Sculpting will help tone your thighs and glutes, and Secret to Sexy Abs will help sculpt your stomach.
Dancing is fun, much more so for most people than running or sitting in a gym on a piece of equipment. The Core Rhythms program has capitalized on this by offering several DVDs that will increase your heart rate and decrease your body fat percentage practically without you noticing. Both the quick and full DVDs are effective cardio workouts. You should also try the Latin Cardio Jam. For best results, try a different DVD every day of the week to keep your body from adapting, and mix up the order. Try to do at least two core-focused workouts a week, as well as two longer cardio DVDs, such as Latin Cardio Jam and Full Workout. You can use Quick Workout on days when you are short on time. Shoot for a minimum of five days a week. Six days is better, though you may want to try just two days a week when starting so you do not get overwhelmed. Add an extra day every two weeks.
The Core Rhythms Program sells a diet guide with proper nutrition suggestions. Exercise is only half of what you need to be healthy. A sensible diet is essential. You can also get Success Tracker to help you track your progress and stay on target.
Core Rhythm Dance Exercises
The Core Rhythms exercise program was created by dance champions Jaana Kunitz and Julia Powers. It is a set of DVDs that combines Latin dancing and core exercises to help you lose inches and tone your core muscles. Consider getting the starter pack, which includes four DVDs to introduce you to the program and the success tracker to keep track of your results and changing measurements.
Starting the Program
Begin to use the Core Rhythms program by buying the Kick Start DVD. It is an introduction to basic core and dance exercises. The DVD is not a choreographed dance workout like the other DVDs Core Rhythms offers, but it will teach you the basic form you need to engage your abdominal and back muscles to make your workouts safe and effective. Do the moves in the DVD until you think you have fully mastered them and then move on to another DVD. You can always come back and do the workout on the DVD again for a periodic refresher.
Also consider trying the Dancer's Diet Guide as part of your new fitness program. Proper eating goes hand in hand with exercise. You may lose a little weight without changing your eating plan, but you won't get significant results unless you do both.
The Quick Workout DVD is a 20-minute session that gives you a good workout in a short amount of time. Pay close attention to the instructions, and take advantage of the feature that allows you to change camera angles so you are sure you are doing the exercises correctly. You may want to work out in front of a mirror at first to watch your own form, but eventually you should learn how to feel your muscles to know if you are working your abs or not.
Start with this workout a few times a week and then build up to where you are doing it daily. After a few weeks, your body will adapt and your results will slow down. When this happens, add in the Full Workout DVD to your routine and mix these up with other workout DVDs in the program. You can also do the Quick Workout as a warm up and then do a weights workout or other physical activity afterward.
The Full Workout DVD is a 45-minute workout including a proper warm-up and cool down. This DVD helps you burn fat and work up a sweat. Try to do this workout several days a week and fit in the Quick Workout on days you have less time and for variety. No matter how challenging a workout is, your body will find a way to eventually make it easier, so keep changing up your routine by trying new DVDs in the series, or throw in some other activities such as Pilates, walking or swimming. This will keep you from getting bored, and it will keep shocking your body with new challenges.
Where to Go From Here
The last DVD of the starter pack is Latin Dance Made Easy. This DVD helps you if you truly want to learn how to do Latin dances that you can take out to dance clubs. It is not as much of a workout, though, so if you are just looking to work your core, consider instead buying the Secret to Sexy Abs DVD for a more targeted core workout.
Latin Dance Exercise
Are you hooked on the sexy rhythms of dance shows or movies, but want to get off the couch and burn some calories? Learn to Latin dance: it's a fun, upbeat way to get an aerobic workout and tone your core. And you'll be too busy enjoying yourself to feel like you're working out.
Latin Dance Fitness Classes
Latin dance fitness classes like Zumba are offered in many gyms and studios across the nation. They combine fun aerobic dance moves with simple choreography to keep students entertained and working hard. You do not need a background in dance or a lot of coordination, though you should be able to find a beat to follow along with the class. Latin dance classes are usually less complicated than step aerobic classes, but still require some concentration.
Be sure to hydrate well before class, though not immediately beforehand. Dress comfortably and wear something to keep your hair out of your face. Don't feel bad about taking a break at any time, especially if you're a beginner. Most classes are an hour long, which includes a warm up and cool down.
Latin Dance Fitness DVDs
Latin dance DVDs offer many of the same benefits and simple choreography as classes. And with DVDs, you can work at your own pace: rewind or use slow-motion to learn the choreography, and there is no need to feel self-conscious. DVDs also offer you the option of working out when and for however long you want.
However, keep in mind that DVDs have much less variety and scope than a live class: you may quickly become bored, or your body will adapt and then you'll need to buy a new one or rotate through several. Try series and DVDs like the Core Rhythms Dance Program, Zumba, or the 10 Minute Solution: Fat Blasting Latin Dance Mix DVD for a variety of workouts that you can mix and match for a different workout each time. And try working out to a DVD with a friend to get the social benefits and motivation of exercising with someone.
Social Latin Dancing
Going out dancing at a club or event is a fun way to socialize and exercise. Latin dancing burns 600 to 1000 calories per hour. Sign up for a group class at a dance studio or take private lessons. Be sure to ask questions about your dance form. You will get more exercise benefits from dancing if you learn to engage your abdominal muscles and follow your instructor's directions on appropriate dance posture.
Figure out which approach works best for you - classes, social dancing, or DVDs - and then stick to it. You may like that classes make you show up at the same time daily or weekly and help make a habit out of exercising. Or you might like the convenience of DVDs, which can be used at any time and won't give you the excuse of not being able to exercise because you don't have the time to get to a regular class.
Another way to stay motivated is to keep a journal of your progress and look back on your measurements or dress size to give you the motivation to keep going when you don't feel like it.
Latin Cardio Exercise
Mambo, salsa or cha cha your way to better cardio fitness. Dancing is an effective cardio workout, but it has often been perceived as something expensive or something where you need a partner. Thanks to Zumba and core rhythms, relatively new aerobics class phenomena, dancing is now something to do on your lunch hour at the local gym or at home with a DVD for a reasonable price and without worrying about a reluctant partner.
Zumba uses fun, upbeat and hot Latin rhythms to get the participants into the groove, incorporating Latin dance moves with an urban attitude. While a fun way to get up and moving, Zumba uses interval and resistance training to burn calories. The mixture of rhythms and varied tempos keep our bodies guessing from one song and dance step to the next.
Core rhythms is much like the idea of Zumba with a faster pace and a greater focus on the abs, back and obliques. This exercise is not as readily available in classes yet, though some dance studios are offering it. But there are a variety of exercise DVDs for shorter and longer workouts.
Further Influence by Dancing with the Stars
Dancing with the Stars has also done wonders to fan the flame of Latin-inspired fitness dancing and offers its own brand of workout DVDs. There is no mystery as to why people want to start this fun workout once you catch a viewing of the vibrant dancing and see the fitness level of the professional and celebrity dancers.
Weightlifting as a Bonus
Some classes have portions that integrate weight lifting. The weights are not intended to be heavy, but meant to add an extra amount of resistance to certain moves. Usually, bicep curls or tricep extensions are added to a particular step for an eight-count per muscle group. Not all teachers have time or desire to add weight lifting to the class.
There are several options for selecting music for Zumba if you're a teacher or in case you've adapted your own Latin exercise program. The Zumba Freedom provides streaming playlists you can use at home or as jumping-off points. Track: Blue Tango
Don't worry if you don't have membership to a gym or if your gym has not yet adopted this exciting form of cardio exercise. Zumba, core rhythms and Dancing with the Stars are all offered on DVD.
The Fun Factor and Longevity
In the end, these exercises are fun, and if we find an exercise we enjoy and that encourages us to move in different ways, we may stick with it.
Core Rhythm Dance Cardio Exercise
The Core Rhythm Dance Program is a complete program of DVDs and nutrition advice from dance champions Julia Powers and Jaana Kunitz. The program offers a variety of workouts from short to long and instructional to heart-thumping.
Just the DVDs
The Core Rhythms program offers cardiovascular benefits and core training. To get the most cardio benefits, skip the DVDs like the Kick Start and Secret to Sexy Abs DVDs as these are more instructional and core-targeting. The Latin Cardio Jam, Full Workout, and Quick Workout DVDs will help you burn more calories and get your heart rate going. Everyone should get at least 30 minutes a day of cardio, at least five days a week. Start with the Quick Workout DVD to build endurance and confidence. It is only 20 minutes long and you can do it on consecutive days. Then, add in the other two for variety and longer workouts that will provide more results.
DVDs as a Stepping Stone
If you've been wanting to get out on the dance floor and dance the night, and your excess fat, away, but have been too nervous to jump out there without training, try the Latin Dance Made Easy DVD. You'll learn the basic moves of three popular dances, the meringue, salsa, and rumba. Fast ballroom dancing burns on average 300 to 400 calories per hour. Dancing is also low-impact, social and fun, making it a perfect cardio exercise. You can also check out the Latin Cardio Jam DVD. You'll learn some of creator Julia Powers' signature dance moves while toning your core and burning off body fat. Use this DVD during the week and then go out dancing on the weekends to reach your five-day minimum. You'll be losing weight and building a strong cardiorespiratory system.
The Core Rhythm DVDs will keep you moving and smiling as you have so much fun dancing that you forget you are exercising. Do not, however, get so caught up that you forget to breathe or stay hydrated. Be sure to wear supportive shoes as well. Check out the Core Rhythms Success Tracker to record your results daily and stay motivated.