Dance Off Your Excess Pounds

Ever thought of dancing as a good way to lose or keep off weight? Well it is, and Michele Chovan-Taylor, Divisional Group X Manager for 24 Hour Fitness, says it's not hard to see why. "It's fun. There is a disassociation as to how hard you are working. You are so engrossed in learning the steps and listening to music that it doesn't even feel like work."

Dance movements are fun, but they can really give you a workout. "The movements that shape the body and burn the most calories are the ones we try to incorporate in group X classes... like the mambo cha-cha or pivots," says Chovan-Taylor. "People like to turn, they love when we have them twirling and turning or jumping and leaping. The movements where you leave or cover the floor burn the most calories."

Chovan-Taylor says the people who really enjoy Group X dance classes tend to be outgoing, have a dance background or have taken dance at some point in their lives. It doesn't matter what age they are. "We have an easier salsa class that appeals to the senior population and hip-hop classes which are enjoyed by people in their teens to those in their 40's or older."

How to Get the Most Out of Any Dance Class

In order to lose or maintain weight, Chovan-Taylor recommends exercising a minimum of three times per week. "But I think five times per week is best. Personally, I work out Monday through Friday and take the weekend off." But she advises against taking the same dance class more than two times per week. "If you do the same exercise constantly then the body starts to plateau. That's also when you start to get bored and drop out."

Even if you don't fully know the routines at first, you can still get aerobic exercise. "We teach it so everyone can get a workout. You learn the routine in layers. For example, at first you do only lower body movements, then just upper body, or we do it in half-time and use lots of repetition before putting it all together and picking up the pace."

Still, some classes have fairly advanced choreography. "Former dancers will pick up things very quickly. For the general population, if they come back four to five times they'll start to get it. I always tell new people that if they've been in the class two to three times and they feel like a dork, then they are doing it right." The main thing, she says, is that people continue to move. "If you go home and practice the steps, you'll pick it up even sooner."

What Class is Right For You?

The dance class that's right for you probably depends on the kind of music that you like. If you like hip-hop there are several options. Super Street is the most challenging hip-hop class. It is divided into a 30-minute class, "The Grooves," which covers basic, authentic hip-hop style movements with easier choreography. It is followed by "The Moves," another 30-minute class with more intricate steps. The Grooves and Moves classes together constitute the Super Street class. In the Super Street class, people perform for each other at the end, putting Moves and Grooves together.

Chovan-Taylor says that beginning and advanced Salsa classes are also extremely popular. They are salsa fitness classes for individuals, but many of the same moves can be used in Latin partner dancing.

Another unique dance class is Aqua Ballet. Chovan-Taylor says this class, although it's not done on the dance floor, uses basic ballet bar movements. It is perfect for seniors, overweight people, pregnant women and those with arthritis or injuries. "It's not the kind of class where you work up a sweat, because obviously you're in the water; but I've taken it and my legs and glutes were sore... and my heart rate was definitely up!"

Dance classes have been so well-received that 24 Hour Fitness is developing a ballet class as well. "Dancing can keep your weight down, but it's not just about how you look any more. It's how you feel and the quality of your life," Chovan-Taylor says.

Divisional Group X Manager Michele Chovan-Taylor has danced in many Las Vegas shows and studied at the Joffrey ballet. She started teaching fitness classes when, as a dancer, she was told to trim her weight and has taught dance ever since.

This information and other information on this site is intended for general reference purposes only and is not intended to address specific medical conditions. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice or a medical exam. Prior to participating in any exercise program or activity, you should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition.


This information and other information on this site is intended for general reference purposes only and is not intended to address specific medical conditions. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice or a medical exam. Prior to participating in any exercise program or activity, you should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition.