Dancing isn’t just a form of artistic expression — it’s also an excellent way to exercise. If you’ve ever participated in dance-based fitness classes, you’re probably already familiar with the Latin rhythms of Zumba or the booty-boosting ballet of Pure Barre. But if you don’t have the time or money for an in-person class right now, worry not: There’s an incredible array of dance workouts online, and they feature every style of movement you can imagine. An added bonus: Each has its own unique health benefits. We’ve gathered six of our favorite dance workout videos below — so, get into the groove.
Why should I try a dance workout?
Many women covet the grace and lean lines of a dancer’s physique, but the benefits of dance aren’t just aesthetic. Dancing regularly can lower your risk of ADL disabilities and improve cognitive function — two distinct areas of concern as we age. Dancing is also just plain fun, and adding new music and movement to your life is an easy way to spice up a boring fitness routine.
For Better Balance: A Rockette Workout
The high precision kicks of the Rockettes — the official dance troupe of New York’s Radio City Music Hall — have been a cultural staple for nearly a hundred years. While their kicks may seem impossible to achieve, the Rockettes’ YouTube channel offers workouts and guides to specific dance moves that make their routines a lot less intimidating. Try the “New York at Christmas” Dance Tutorial (watch the video below), in which a real-life Rockette walks you through the iconic kickline section of their show. This isn’t about matching the height of the kicks; rather, it’s about shifting your weight from one foot to the other, even if your kick is waist high (or even knee high). If you’re unsteady on your feet or prone to imbalance, practice on a soft surface and hold onto a chair, sofa back, or table top. While the Rockettes have dedicated their lives to the art of the high kick, the focus for you is balance, as improving it prevent falls and boosts stability.
For When You Don’t Want to Sweat: Dance Meditation
You know about dance and you know about meditation, but have you tried dance meditation? Turns out, meditation isn’t only about being still. The official website for dance meditation describes it as “a unique moving meditation system for self-discovery, healing, and evolution” — so it’s perfect for when you want to move around but you don’t want to dance so hard that you end up dripping sweat. Dance meditation isn’t focused on choreography; rather, it’s about slowing down, getting in touch with your body, and breathing calmly. Don’t judge yourself or worry about moving too fast or too slow: Just move in a way that feels natural and satisfying for your body. You’ll likely find it a valuable outlet for stress relief. The “Guided Dance Meditation for Embodiment” video (below) is a good place to start. At just 15 minutes long, it’s easy to fit into your day, and the teacher promises this unusual approach to dancing will help you feel more present and aware.
For High-Energy: Bollywood Dance
Bollywood dance is an energetic and joyous form of movement popularized by the vibrant musical films of India (these movies are seeing increasing success in the US, too). This type of dance is a mix of the old and the new, combining Indian classical and folk with elements of popular Western dance forms like hip-hop and disco. Because Bollywood dancing mixes many different styles together, it’s an ideal way to work up a sweat. The 30-minute Bollywood dance workout shown below is geared toward beginners, and has been viewed 26 million times! Wearing a brightly colored sari isn’t necessary, but it will surely amp up the fun factor.
For Flexibility and Confidence: Pole Dance
In the past, pole dancing was confined to strip clubs, but in recent years it’s become a fun fitness method beloved by women of all ages, sizes, and skill levels. Pole dance workouts are not just about being sexy — on the contrary, the focus is on building strength and flexibility through moves that test your balance. While pole dancing may seem like it’s only for the young, it can help mature women improve their joint strength. (Of course, a baseline fitness level is necessary to perform the moves that impact joint strength.) There are benefits for mental health, too: You may feel more silly than sexy at first, but if you stick with it, pole dance can make you feel more confident, seductive, and in control. Best of all, you can start doing it without a pole! The video below demonstrates pole dance-inspired conditioning exercises that don’t require equipment. If you’re ready to take the leap and get a pole of your own, there are also plenty of beginner-friendly videos that’ll walk you through a flexibility-building and strengthening routine.
For Coordination: Irish Dance
Irish dance is a form of movement that’s all about coordinated footwork. You may recognize it from the famed theatrical show Riverdance, but its origins actually go back centuries. Unlike other types of dance, Irish dance doesn’t typically use the arms (they often remain motionless at your sides). The footwork, on the other hand, is fancy and intricate, creating a hypnotic sense of rhythm that may help improve coordination. Practitioners have praised the way it keeps your mind nimble due to its focus on constant yet controlled movements. And you certainly don’t have to be Irish to get into it: The Irish Times calls it a “fast-paced cardiovascular exercise that [not only] improves overall heart and lung health, but [also] builds stronger bones, tones, and strengthens muscles” — these are fitness benefits no matter where you’re from. Try this short but intense workout (see video below) from Flanagan’s School of Irish Dance.
For Partnering Up: Try Country Dance
Often, dance is more fun with a partner — and the same is true of exercising, so why not combine the two? Though you can try just about any dance workout with a pal, there are traditional partner dances that actually require collaboration, like ballroom and salsa. While you may assume partner dance is formal or fancy, it doesn’t have to be. For fans of country music, check out this quick country dance workout (see video below). It’s perfect to try with a spouse, a friend, and even your kids or grandkids. The video’s description reads: “The goal isn’t to get every move down perfectly, it’s to have fun and enjoy the music!” As far as we’re concerned, that’s the ideal approach for any dance or workout routine.
Whether you choose to work up a sweat with a dance workout that’s sexy, traditional, or meditative, you should have a blast embracing a new type of movement — and you’ll most likely build up some confidence and strength in the process!