Tired of Working Out? Dance your way to fitness

October 2012 View more


You may recall back in the early 80s when Jazzercise was the hottest dance-fitness trend around. Gradually, other exercise programs came on the scene, such as step and aerobic classes, and Jazzercise took a back seat. But with the natural rise and fall of things, dance fitness is making a comeback. Thanks to TV shows like Dancing with the Stars, and the rise of Zumba, dance is making its way into gyms all over the world.

Sandy Todd-Webster, editor in chief, IDEA Health & Fitness Association, knows trends, and believes that the proliferation of dance shows have catapulted dance into an equal opportunity activity. “Popular television shows, along with Zumba, arrived on the scene around the same time. This converged into a perfect storm for dance-based group fitness to proliferate.”

Tracking the dancing trends:

The aerobics industry began with dance-based workouts, Todd-Webster says it’s exciting to see them return. “We’ve been tracking trends through detailed surveys of industry professionals for over 15 years at IDEA, and dance has always been a trend with measurable ebb and flow. As long as there is music and a beat, and someone to lead the way, there will always be dance in the fitness world,” said Todd-Webster.

Mary Boyer, Naperville personal trainer and WERQ instructor, recognizes that nothing beats a dancer’s body. “We’ve all watched the dancers on Dancing with the Stars improve their bodies and health right in front of us. That’s created a desire to get back in to dance-based fitness.” The WERQ class Mary teaches uses Pop, Rock and Hip Hop music. “I use music that is relatable. I know the class participants hear the songs throughout their day and can’t help but think of the moves we do in class. It’s fun even after you leave the gym. WERQ choreographed class includes simple repetitive dance moves. Even if you can’t dance, this class makes you feel like you can.”

Too much of a good thing?

Christine Gallagher, is a dancer, choreographer, fitness instructor, and creator of Red Hot Dance Fitness LLC. Currently, Red Hot Dance has 50 instructors in three states, and is growing. When it comes to dance overload, she feels dance can stay strong if students are kept engaged. “Right now there is definitely a lot of competition. But many only showcase certain genres of music or styles of dance, which make it possible for a lot of these programs to coexist. But only the programs that have the substance to deliver will last,” said Gallagher.

Todd-Webster sees the fun and social aspect of dance classes as the magnet that draws people in. “The fact that it doesn’t feel like exercise helps promote adherence. It’s also a form of fitness that people of all shapes, sizes, and ages can do. There are so many new ones rolling out at the moment–and others on the way hoping to seize the moment–that they can’t all be sustained. Fitness consumers will decide which ones they like the best. Those will not only survive but they will thrive, especially in the current environment that supports dancing,” said Todd-Webster.

Although some the hottest dance trends include Zumba, Masala Bhangra (a world influence with a Bollywood infusion), Les Mills, SH’BAM™ and BODYJAM™, new classes continue to ease their way into the market, hoping to be the next big hit.

The most important part of exercise is finding what keeps people engaged and excited about moving. Dancing has the ability to bring people together and keep them engaged. With the variety of music and ever changing routines, there is always something new to experience, which is the key to bringing people back consistently.