Dance Yourself Fit
As the nights draw in, outdoor exercise becomes less appealing
The best way to keep fit at the moment is undoubtedly dancing. Classes across the region are in high demand and it’s no wonder – dancing improves health, mood and energy levels and, above all, it’s fun. The majority of dance classes are tailored to introduce newcomers to the scene, so there are no excuses for beginners. Not sure where to go? Here’s our pick of the most exciting dance styles, and where to try them.
Although an understanding of ballet is reportedly best absorbed as a child, adult classes have taken off in recent years due to a growing number of beginners classes offering a basic introduction to technique and movement. Classical ballet productions, such as Swan Lake, continue to inspire modern audiences, who crave their captivating narratives and emotional performances. Ballet classes offer the chance to understand the beauty behind the dance.
Good for: Improving muscle tone, flexibility, co-ordination and posture.
Top tip: Keep your hair tied back – a classic bun is perfect.
Where you can do it: North East Dance, Sunderland 0191 565 7270 or 07740 947699 www.northeastdance.com
Many associate jive with rock and roll and Glen Miller – for good reason. This style of dance dates back to the 1920s and, as a rebellious and non-progressive dance (one that doesn’t move around the floor like traditional styles), it blends all the energy and spontaneity of the era in its steps. This is a good all-round work out, but is designed to be fun and playful so you won’t feel it! You can dance as slowly or as fast as you like – and if you’re feeling adventurous you can also try the kicks, flicks and jumps that are so synonymous with the dance style.
Good for: Rhythm, balance, memory and paired partner dancing.
Top tip: You will be learning lots of steps with spins in this class, so a skirt with lots of flare will accentuate every kick and flick.
Where you can do it: Ceroc Newcastle, Wallsend 07801 912844 www.cerocnewcastle.com
Classed as a dance fitness class, Zumba has been one of the fastest spreading exercise crazes. It’s now recognised across the world as a ‘fitness party’ due to the rhythmic music and upbeat, positive group formation. Despite being a total workout, the choreography has been designed to cater for everyone, regardless of experience, fitness level or confidence. Each move can be performed in its simplest form for a gentle, introductory approach or exaggerated for more of a challenge – making each class highly adaptable and very approachable for beginners.
Good for: Cardio, muscle conditioning, balance, flexibility and confidence.
Top tip: Take a bottle of water!
Where you can do it: Dance Factory North East, Middlesbrough 07976 570934 www.dancefactorynortheast.co.uk
Flamenco is one of the most challenging dances to master, but also one of the most beautiful to watch and perform. Originating from Spain, this expressive dance form combines drama, emotion and precision with complex rhythms to create a passionate sequence of arm movements, rapid footwork and clapping. The choice of music is a fundamental aspect of any flamenco and some classes use live Spanish music to create additional drama and authenticity.
Good for: Stamina, toning, framework and rhythm.
Top tip: Expect a generous amount of stamping and heavy footwork – jazz or ballroom-style shoes with a low heel are advisable for comfort.
Where you can do it: Tango Unlimited, Newcastle 07896 310720 www.tangounlimited.co.uk
The vibrancy and glamour of Bollywood brings a feel-good vibe to dance and, as a fusion of Indian classical dance, hip hop and salsa, it brings the best of all styles into one class. Associated with the energetic routines found in Bollywood films, the style has brought traditional Indian dance and music influences to the rest of the world. Made up of individual and group sequences, it promises an energetic workout whilst incorporating the essence of its culture and traditional origins.
Good for: Synchronised and solo dancing, overall fitness and confidence.
Top tip: Bollywood is all about drama – wear something brightly coloured to get into the feel of the dance.
Where you can do it: Dance City, Newcastle 0191 261 0505 www.dancecity.co.uk
Take to the floor like Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire, and try tap dancing for an exercise in rhythm and footwork – an excellent work out for the body and mind. A truly classic style, tap dancing will take you back to the iconic routines of the 1950s and allow you to appreciate the technique behind the sequences.
Good for: Precise, technical footwork and rhythm.
Top tip: Special, metal-plated tap shoes will be needed for this class. You can buy or hire them from specialist dance shops, or some classes will provide them for beginners.
Where you can do it: Brenda Walker School of Dance, Langley Moor 01434 674840 www.brendawalker.co.uk
As an extremely social dance style, with the ability to adapt to many different levels of difficulty, Salsa remains a popular option for beginners. Available to try in many different variations, including New York, Cuban and Samba, this is the ideal class to learn basic steps, turns and holds with a partner.
Good for: Technique, footwork and dancing in sequences.
Top tip: It can get quite hot in large salsa classes, so make sure you wear something light.
Where you can do it:
Creole Carnival, Darlington 07963 970529 www.creolecarnival.co.uk
Salsa Amor, The Black Swan, Newcastle 07906 355938 www.salsa-amor.co.uk