Types of Dance Workouts

Dancing is a great way to get some wonderful cardiovascular exercise, improve strength and muscle tone and increase your overall endurance. When people think of dance classes at gyms, they probably associate it with the cringeworthy Jazzercise videos from the 1980’s where everyone is wearing a cheeky leotard and leg warmers. Luckily, exercise dance for the average person has come along way since then. There are many different styles to chose from. If you are anything like me a little clumsy, can’t dance, middle age and up, you might be thinking:

  1. There is no way I could make it through an entire dance class.
  2. I also have two left feet.
  3. I’ll be the oldest person in there.
  4. I will look so stupid.

I’m here to tell you to R E L A X:

  1. You can do anything for an hour.
  2. You might surprise yourself and discover you are much more coordinated than you think you are.
  3. I’m a strong believer that age is only a state of mind. You should be too.
  4. Yes, you will look stupid but so will everyone else.

There are many different dance classes at your local gym to chose from and sometimes the descriptions of each are not as informative as we would like them to be. Luckily, we have tested them all for you so you know exactly what to expect when you show up for class.


  • Zumba
    • What is it?
      • Zumba Fitness® was founded in 2001 by creative genius and Cali, Columbia native Alberto “Beto” Perez. His career began as a fitness instructor in his home city. Forgetting his traditional aerobic music on accident, he decided to improvise with the traditional latin music he had in his gym bag. voilà! He taught the first ever Zumba class that day. He eventually brought Zumba over to the United States in 2000 and it became a well-established international fitness trend by the year 2007.
    • What should I expect?
      • Zumba is truly a workout in disguise. It is a combination of aerobics and latin dancing. Zumba was originally only latin, salsa, and merengue music. In the present day, instructors use a variety of different types of music including American pop and hip-hop music while still incorporating all of those latin dance moves. Expect to break a sweat and get your heart rate up!
    • What to bring?
      • It is important to wear comfortable, breathable clothing. Shoes with good support are a must as well. You will definitely break a sweat in Zumba class so bring a water bottle and a towel. A watch with a heart monitor would be beneficial to as with any major cardio exercise, but it is not required.
  • Barre fusion
    • What is it?
      • As you may have guessed, barre fusion is a cardio exercise incorporating moves from traditional ballet. The equipment used in this class are a ballet barre and optional small weights (3-5 lb weights). Barre classes were first started 50 years ago in the United Kingdom by a German-born dancer named Lotte Berk. Berk invented the method in 1959 when she suffered a back injury. She decided to combine aspects of classical barre ballet with physical therapy and Barre was born! The method migrated over to the US when one of her students, Lydia Bach, opened a studio in Manhattan.
    • What should I expect?
      • Present day methods of the Barre workout use aspects of ballet, pilates and yoga. This is a great workout for challenging your core strength, balance and flexibility. There are a wide variety of barre classes out there, each teacher usually has their own style and taste in music making every class unique. This is great for building muscle tone because repetition can cause your body to plateau.
    • What should I bring?
      • It is best to wear breathable, but reasonably snug fitting clothing to these classes. Yoga pants, leotards and tank tops are the best apparel for this class so you can truly see your body alignment while you are performing each move. Alignment is key with any type of ballet class to prevent injury. This class is typically done bare foot or with dance shoes (optional).
  • Jazzercise-
    • What is it?
      • Jazzercise is a franchise of fitness/dance classes founded by Iowa native Judi Sheppard Misset in 1979. Judi was pigeon-toed growing up and her doctor suggested she take dance classes as therapy, over the years she discovered her love of dancing. She was a successful dance instructor and choreographer by her teenaged years. In her adult life, she noticed that her students began dropping out of her classes because they could not keep up with the demands of professional quality dance classes and other responsibilities like motherhood or beginning a career. Thats when she had the idea to use moves from Jazz classes and incorporate them into exercise routines. Jazzercise was a well established, multi-million dollar franchise by the 1980’s.
    • What should I expect?
      • Jazzercise is an intense aerobic workout! Expect an hour of moving, moving, moving and upbeat music. If your gym doesn’t offer the actual jazzercise class, they may offer something similar to it. There is a hefty fee involved in becoming an official jazzercise instructor, which is why your gym may not offer it. Expect to torch calories! People report burning anywhere from 300-800 calories in one hour jazzercise classes. It all depends on the work you put into the class. Someone who takes frequent breaks will burn less calories than someone who does exactly what the teacher tells them too with 100% effort for the full hour.
    • What should I bring?
      • Any comfortable exercise clothes will work for this class. Luckily you won’t see a whole lot of high waisted leotards for this class like you would back in 1985 (but that’s always an option). Athletic shoes are recommended for this class. Definitely bring a water bottle for this one, you will break a sweat!
  • SoulCycle
    • What is it?
      • Soulcycle, also known as “cardio party” on their website, is a franchise and workout style that combines traditional high-intensity interval aspects of indoor cycling and dance moves. It was created by Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice, two moms and friends living in Manhattan. Cutler, from Boulder and Rice, from L.A. really missed the outdoorsy activities in their home towns after moving to Manhattan. They invented SouCycle as a way to get in shape without the feeling of working out. The first SoulCycle class was in 2006 and since then it has skyrocketed into a multi-million dollar franchise adored by celebrities everywhere such as Lena Dunham, Kelly Ripa, Lady Gaga, Jake Gyllenhaal and even Beyonce.
    • What should I expect?
      • SoulCycle is taught in an indoor cycling room. Flashing lights and up-beat music are used in this class. You will definitely feel like you are at a dance party in this class. The class is 45 minutes of non-stop cycling incorporated with dance movements using your abdominal muscles and arms. If your gym doesn’t have a SoulCycle class the may offer a similar style class.
    • What should I bring?
      • Any comfortable fitting exercise clothes and athletic shoes will work for this class, but be sure to wear pants that won’t interfere with the rotating bike. Biking pants/shorts or yoga capri’s or leggings are always a safe bet.  Cycling shoes are optional but not required. Be sure to bring a water bottle and a hand towel. You will definitely get a little sweaty- it will be a ‘wash your hair day’ for sure!

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