6 dance fitness workouts to try

From salsa to barre, there are plenty of ways to swap your usual workout for something social and upbeat. Plus, you'll boost your mind and body in the process!
Published 21 August, 2019

6 fun dance workouts to try


If your enjoyment of going to the gym day after day is starting to diminish – spin, squats, sprint, repeat – mixing up the way you work out could rekindle your fitness flame. Trialling a dance class may just be the motivation you need.


So you think you can dance?


Answer: yes, yes you can. Dance classes are for everyone! They're fun, social and great for your physical health.

With physical activity associated with higher levels of cardiovascular health, fitness in general obviously has huge health benefits, but it’s the proven mental and social aspects of dance that give it such a huge tick of approval from the experts.

We’re not just talking about feeling an improved level of happiness, either. Those who spend time moving to music have reported an increased strength in long-term memory ability and higher levels of social satisfaction.

“Not only does it get you moving, but it often takes place in a social environment that can help to reduce isolation and build up a sense of community,” explains Katrina Rank, Ausdance Victoria’s director of education and lifelong learning. “It’s a great way to meet new people who share similar interests, too,” adds the school’s general manager, Clare McKenzie.

And with a recent study by the European Journal Of Sport Science linking mini dance sessions to positive changes in mood, high energy, and lower stress levels, rhythmic movement has become just as much of a mental exercise as a physical one. Even if it’s just you and Beyonce busting it out in the living room, science wants you to get your groove on.


Shake it till you make it


“Remember, everyone feels nervous at their first class, not just you,” reassures McKenzie. “Call the studio to find out about how the class is run, so you know exactly what to expect!”

A water bottle, comfy clothes and mini towel might help, but seeking out your people – other newbies to fumble, giggle and shake your booty with – is the key to making you feel less like your dad at a disco and more like Beyoncé.

“Look out for the beginner’s classes, so you know you’ll be among other people that are new to dance, too,” says McKenzie. And if you’re wondering where to position yourself, the answer is not at the back! McKenzie recommends popping yourself where you can actually see what’s going on. “You may be able to follow the more experienced dancers in front of you, but it’s best if you can see the teacher directly,” she says. Head to the middle if the front seems too daunting.


Find your dance style


When it comes to dance, hunting down a style that suits you can be one of the hardest bits about committing to a long-term class. Hip-hop, ballet, salsa or modern – in other words: easy-going, disciplined or relaxed? We’ve popped together a mini rundown of exactly what to expect at each class, so you can dance with confidence and nail the first class.

Top tips for your first Zumba class


1. Strong by Zumba® - Best for working up a (fun) sweat


If you’ve ever hit up a Zumba class, your hips, stomach, and core will be familiar with the high-cardio, Latin-inspired workout where routines feel more like a fun night out than a fitness class. Strong by Zumba takes it up a notch – higher-intensity interval training that leans on more athletic fitness moves. It’s still inspired by dance, but more of a HIIT workout done to fast-paced hip-hop rhythms.

Where? Your gym! Check the group class schedule to see whether your gym runs regular Zumba sessions. If you can’t get to one, a DVD in your living room is the next best thing.

You’ll need: Sportswear, water, and a towel.


2. Clubbercise - Best for stress relief


Clubbercise fuses easy-to-follow dance and strengthening steps with the visual elements of an old-school rave – think flashing LED glow sticks, disco lights, and total darkness. Benefits include building strength, de-stressing and indulging in a great soundtrack.

Where? Gyms, fitness studios and school halls across the country. Find a class here.

You’ll need: Reuseable glow sticks, sportswear and your best dance moves.


3. Salsa - Best for socialising


Fast beats, Latin-inspired moves, aerobic-based and oh-so-sexy – learning to salsa is the ultimate confidence booster for rhythm lovers. Although partner-based, many dance schools will encourage you to rock up on your own and swap partners throughout the class. Beware: there is a lot of step-learning. However, science suggests the mental stimulation is great for strengthening long-term memory.

Where? Private dance studios and community centres.

You’ll need: Knee-length skirt or dress, or tight trousers, and medium-heeled shoes with ankle straps.


4. Jazzercise - Best for boosting your mood


The reinvention of iconic ’80s jazzercise means less leg warmers, lycra and leotards, and more pulse-pounding and beat-bumping. Cardio, strength, Pilates, hip-hop, yoga and kickboxing are married together for the ultimate dance party workout (minus the hangover the next day!).

Where? Find a class here.

You’ll need: Sportswear, loads of water and heaps of energy.


5. Barre - Best for strength


If the idea of taking a ballet class gives you flashbacks of five-year-old you enduring tight buns and strict teachers – but you do secretly want to nail a pirouette again – enrol in a barre trial class and make some new memories (and muscles). With ballet-inspired postures and equipment, the classes focus on combining isometric (holding still) strength training with high reps of small-range movements. Handheld weights and resistance bands take this up a notch!

Where? Private studios. Some gyms offer classes as well.

You’ll need: Tights, extra-grip socks, hand-held weights and a gym mat.


6. Tap dancing - Best for the laughs


Nope, you don’t have to be a kid to don some noisy shoes and heel-toe it to some old-timey piano. Adult tap classes are an awesome way to reminisce about something you used to be awesome at, especially if you grab some old friends and scoot down memory lane! Timing, rhythm and a real sense of beat are the major skills you’ll learn. But if you can walk, shuffle and laugh – a lot – you’ve pretty much nailed it.

Where? Private dance studios and specialised tap dance schools.

You’ll need: Comfy loose clothing, your old tap shoes and a supportive sports bra (lots of jumping).


5 reasons to get your groove on


1. Regularly learning new dance routines has been shown to be linked with a 76 per cent reduction in dementia risk.

2. People over 40 who dance may almost halve their risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

3. Aerobic dance training has been shown to be just as effective for weight loss as cycling and jogging.

4. A dance class may lift your mood more than a gym sesh or listening to upbeat music.

5. Regular booty-shaking may help prevent bone problems like arthritis.