Tabata this, bootcamp that. Lately, high-intensity intervals have been getting all of the group fitness love. But a good old-fashioned cardio dance class can still give you a crazy good burn — and it generally won’t involve endless rounds of burpees.
“High-intensity classes are great for people who are into that whole drill sergeant routine, but a lot of people have gone down that route and are now realizing they prefer something that isn’t quite as driven and intense,” says Kimberly Glick, national senior director of group fitness at Life Time Fitness. “They want to work out, sweat and smile. Not smile through the tears.”
Plus, unlike many HIIT classes, you can walk into a session with pretty much no experience. “You don’t feel like you need to get in shape just to sign up,” she laughs. Here’s what you need to know to walk into any cardio dance class with the confidence of Beyoncé (or at least one of her back-up dancers).
5 Ways to Feel Cooler in Your Cardio Dance Class
1. Arrive Early
Hiding your newbie status won’t get you anywhere. Show up a few minutes early so you can introduce yourself to the instructor. “Many instructors will give you an idea what to expect in class, and some will even go out of their way to teach you a few moves that will pop up throughout the class,” Glick says. That way, you won’t feel like you’re playing catch-up when the class launches into their usual routine. If, after class, you have some questions about that hip roll, just ask. That’s what instructors are there for.
2. Stand in the Middle of the Pack
No, not at the back of the room. Many dance classes involve directional changes (like in the Cupid Shuffle). So if you start the class at the back or far side of the group, when everyone turns around, you could wind up at the front (without any idea what you’re doing), Glick says. If you set up camp in the middle of class, you’ll always be able to follow along, no matter which direction the class might turn.
3. Don’t Stop Moving
It’s tempting to try to perform every move perfectly on the first go, but that’s not the point of cardio dance classes. The goal is to get your heart rate up and burn some fat. “If what you’re doing doesn’t look like what the instructor [is doing], who cares? As long as you move, you win,” Glick says. If you stand there scratching your head and trying to study the instructor’s dance combo, you might as well be sitting on the couch. While form and technique are super-important in some higher-intensity workouts, helping to protect you from injury, they’re not as crucial in a fun dance class. No matter how bad your twerking skills, you’ll probably still be OK.
4. Bring a Friend
Not only will it be more fun to bust out your most ridiculous moves alongside your BFF, but it might also push you to work harder. “It just makes people more at ease and less afraid to look foolish,” Glick says. “Think about it: When you are walking through the mall alone, you aren’t going to skip. But if you’re with your friend and she starts skipping, you’re going to join in.” Plus, the two of you can practice that pop, lock and roll in between classes.
5. Put on Your Dancing Shoes
Ready to leave it all on the dance floor? It might help to get the right kicks. There are running shoes, cross-training shoes, and then there are dancing shoes. The latter come with less tread and traction, Glick says. By keeping your feet from catching on the floor, these slick-bottomed shoes a) Make moves easier, and b) Prevent you from twisting a knee or ankle mid-turn. Look for sneakers with “studio” or “dance” in the title (Zumba also has its own dance-worthy line).
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