In the past, we had jazzercise. Today, the latest dance inspired fitness plan is Zumba.

Zumba claims that you can, “Party yourself into shape.”

Is there any truth to this claim? Dancers are some of the fittest people around, but did they get that way simply by shaking a tail feather?

Today, like it or not, the fact is reality shows are king. Typically, these shows focus on the “beautiful people,”  those who are in great shape and not afraid to let you see.

I got to thinking about Dancing with the Stars and noticed that the professional dancers (and most of the stars) are in great shape. They are clearly strong, healthy and agile, not bulky like the “gorilla guys” on Jersey Shore. So, my feeling is that dancing targets different muscles unlike traditional workouts. You can even see dramatic weight loss in those celebrities who compete on the show.

The ticket is being in killer shape, feeling healthy, energized and attractive.

So, What About This Dancing Business?

Let’s take a look with an example…

LeAnn Rimes has that kind of body. She’s toned, she’s shapely and some might even say sexy.

Recently, she admitted to eating and drinking whatever she wants. So, what keeps her so svelte?

She dances.

Yep. She takes a dance class twice a week. Now, I am not suggesting that Zumba dancing only twice a week will give you the body you are looking for, but it is a great workout.

See, when you dance you get cardio and resistance training. Depending on the type of dance, your moves out on the floor are targeting muscles that don’t normally get flexed in day-to-day life. (I can’t see slow-dancing to Peaches and Herb providing as many benefits as salsa).

As far as LeAnn goes, she also said she stays active off the floor. She kickboxes and swears by that exercise, too.

So, you can bet that if you do not want to shackle yourself to a diet that restricts what you eat, you better stay active.

This is no surprise. People who “rock around the clock” have always boasted they can eat anything, not gain weight and keep weight loss off. They love to rub it in too, don’t they?

If there is one thing I have discovered in my years in the pursuit of excellent health, it is…

Exercise Needs To Be Fun!

If you are having fun while you exercise, then you are more likely to stick with it and get the results you are after.

Let’s face it, dancing is fun! Don’t you love watching the fast-paced and fancy footsteps of Dancing with the Stars? The prospect of having so much fun while exercising with Zumba is tempting!

It is good social exercise and tends to bring people together. But, what if you dance more like Elaine from Seinfeld than Michael Jackson? You may choose to go at it alone!

But, here is the best part. Like anything else, the more you do, the better you are going to be. So, it won’t be long before you are tripping the light fantastic in a crowd…with a partner!

The Routine For Excellent Fitness

I took the liberty of checking into this for you. Hope you don’t mind…

Here is what I am imparting to you today.

First, it is important that if you do not get enough (or any) exercise, that you check with your doctor to make sure you are good to go. It might even be important to start slow.

With that in mind, try starting out with ballroom dancing – a waltz or fox trot. Then, move into swing.

The health benefits have been proven: improved posture, increased stamina, and of course, weight loss.

In fact, an NPR report said Italian researchers have concluded that, “Just 21 minutes of dancing 3 times a week can match the cardiovascular benefits of working out on a treadmill or bicycle.” WOW.

Plus, it is in no way as boring!

Dr. Philip S. Chua from the CEBU Cardiovascular Center says 30 minutes of ballroom dancing is better exercise than 30 minutes of jogging. The dance burns 200 calories while the jogging admittedly burns 294. You see, dancing is much easier on your body, legs, back, etc.

Ballroom dancing, with its sweeping backward steps, works the backs of your thighs and buttocks in ways not found with other types of exercise.

Get To The Core

In order to be most effective with your dance routines, you will need a strong core of abs and back muscles. So, try some pilates. It is not terribly demanding and it targets your core while greatly adding to your flexibility.

Whether your goal is to make it onto a season of Dancing with the Stars, become a Zumba instructor, or just to look and feel great, dancing is one of the best ways to do it. Clearly, dancing is more effective than many other typical gym workouts. It is fun so it keeps you interested. It is social so you get out there to strut your twinkle toes with others. Plus, it works for both men and women.

So, put on your dancing shoes and grab your partner. Dancing for exercise is back in a big way.

What is your favorite team on the show?  Do you agree with how the judges score?  If you could dance with a famous partner, who would you choose to dance the night away?