Dance is like a triple threat activity, bringing benefits of exercise, fun, and sexiness altogether. It’s truly a unique combo because even though it’s a form of cardio and can burn up to 500 calories in an hour, it doesn’t feel like your typical workout.
Jessica Sartori Wharton has been a professional ballroom and Latin dance instructor for more than 10 years, and she loves the sport. She was your typical dance kid who grew up doing ballroom, tap, and any other style she could find a class in. Even though she went to college for journalism and women’s studies, she now spends her days in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sharing her love of dance with others. This includes many older women who are either just getting started or who are rediscovering it after many years.
“So many people come to me for dance lessons because they’re looking for something,” Wharton says. “Sometimes that’s fitness or general movement. It might even be that sexiness they feel like they don’t have anymore.”
If getting in your exercise, having fun, and feeling sexier while you’re at it is appealing to you, then check out some of Jessica’s top benefits for starting up dance at any age. You probably don’t need much convincing to take up this hobby, but here’s seven in case you need that extra nudge.
1. Dance works your core.
“You don’t realize all the muscles you’re using when you dance,” Wharton says. “It’s great for the core. You’re using a lot of obliques and muscles around your abdomen that you wouldn’t use for your regular walk, run, or cardio.”
Wharton says good form is one of the best ways to know you’re getting the most of your workout, but don’t worry if you don’t have it right away. Just keep after it and keep practicing. You’ll be well on your way to getting in regular and strong core workouts.
2. Dance is a challenging workout.
On the one hand, dance is really easy. You move your body any way that feels good, and you’re essentially working out. But on the other hand, it’s really challenging — especially if you’re looking to learn a specific style or routine. Don’t let this dissuade you, though.
“A common misconception from watching TV or shows like Dancing with the Stars is that it’s really easy, but it’s just like any physical skill — it takes time and repetition.”
The reward is worth it, Wharton says. When you pick out a routine and work on it a little at a time, week after week, you’re going to feel so good when you really get it. Yes, it can be challenging, but this is part of the appeal. It’s as easy or as difficult as you want it to be.
3. Dance is a good way to be social.
At first, you might not be chatting it up with your dance partner as you’re trying to keep count, but as you get more confident and start to know the steps, it really is a social activity.
“Because it often involves a partner, it’s fun and conversational,” Wharton says. “Eventually you aren’t always thinking about what your feet are doing, and you’re sharing about your day and getting to know others.”
Whether you’re into Latin, swing, ballroom, or any other style, Wharton’s suggests looking for social groups and events in your area. She says it’s a great way to meet others, and no, you don’t have to worry about showing up alone. A good dance social is welcoming to newbies, and you’ll have the opportunity to dance with many partners.
4. Dance is good for your mind.
“Ballroom dancing can do so much for your body, mind, and movement,” Wharton says. “Once people realize this, they start honing in on different goals.”
It’s not always about doing a complicated routine or trying to train for a competition. Many people do dance because they just love how it makes them feel. They are more energized and happier when they dance. You can tackle dance with your own aspirations and goals.
5. Dance builds up your confidence.
Wharton has given lessons to hundreds of people over the years, and she says very few come into the studio thinking they’re the best. Yet, as they start progressing, lesson after lesson, the transformation of their confidence is amazing. It can definitely carry over from the dance floor to everyday life, too.
One of Wharton’s best tips for developing confidence is to find a good instructor or studio. She suggests trying a group lesson, a private lesson, and a social event so you can see what you like best. She encourages people to call around and talk to individual instructors or studios before making a decision — and to support local (not chains) when possible. She’s done both and says individuals and locally-owned studios will always give you more personalized attention and bang for your buck.
6. Dance brings out your fun and flirty side.
This is the part of dance that many people can relate to. To put it simply, dance is fun!
“I think there’s definitely a movement and music connection that inspires and motivates people,” Wharton says. “Certain songs really speak to them or evoke an emotional reaction. Then when you add body movement with that and possibly a partner to the equation, it gets really sensual. It gets really emotional. It gets really exciting.”
7. Dance helps you feel sexier.
Wharton has seen the way dance can transform individuals and couples. As the confidence builds and it becomes even more fun and effortless, you really do start feeling comfortable expressing yourself and feeling sexy.
“For me personally, it really allows me to bring out my sensual and feminine side and really just let it go,” Wharton says.
This is something anyone can achieve, too. Wharton says dance is not about the shape of your body or how much experience you have. Instead, she says, “It’s about the feeling. It’s about the movement.”
If you’ve thought about trying dance for the first time or getting back into it (no matter how many years you’ve been away), Wharton hopes she inspires you to go for it. You don’t need a partner to dance with or an event to prepare for. Just be open to learning something new.
“There’s no dress code, and you don’t need special shoes or clothes,” Wharton says. “It’s a physical skill just like anything else, and you can learn how to do it.”