Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Salsa Dancing: The Second Most Fun Way to Lose Weight

I do believe we can all agree that sex is the most fun way to lose weight. However you would have to have a marathon session lasting eight hours and be quiet bendy to make a difference in how you look and who has the time for that? Or a ready and willing partner three to four times a week? We all can't have Sting's libido.

So quite by accident I learned last summer how to lose weight in a fun and joyous way; by salsa dancing! 

Being of Latin heritage I have been exposed to salsa dancing all my life. It's something we used to do once a week as the family gathered on the weekends in my house. And although I did it once in awhile during my adult years, I had no idea how much calories were burned during salsa dancing. Did you know you can burn up to ten calories a minute salsa dancing? I had no idea!

I wasn't watching or following "Dancing With the Stars" where the audience witnessed the transformations and weight loss the celebrities acquired while they trained for their dance performances. I discovered salsa again when last summer my friend Nick decided he wanted to learn to do the tango. I volunteered to be his partner as I knew he was a good dancer and I wanted to be more in touch with my Latin heritage. After some more thought, Nick decided he wanted to take salsa lessons as you could find more venues to dance salsa than to dance tango. I was secretly relieved as tango looked very complicated to me and I at least I have danced salsa before.

We took classes around the Times Square area at the New York City Salsa Dance Company that were a total of three hours long. One optional hour for styling (a class where you learn to refine and polish your dance steps) and two hours of going over dance steps and then practicing them with your partner(s). Never had three hours gone by so quickly in my life! It was joyous, it was fun, everyone was in a good mood, I had a good teacher, a great dance partner and terrific, lively music to listen to. I also worked up along with everyone else in the room a good, healthy sweat.

Nick being half English and half Colombian was already a good dancer but in class we learned the names of the steps we had been doing all our lives and new complicated turns and twists. After a few weeks we felt like we were one of those couples you see out on the dance floor at clubs and hate because they look so good and make it look so easy. 

I noticed that I was losing weight and getting even more toned than my yoga classes were contributing to. I have to admit, I have no problem avoiding cardio in my life. That is when I started to investigate just how much calories you can burn doing salsa or any form of ballroom dancing as this link on LatinDancePro.com can inform you of.

The classes for any ballroom/salsa dancing are very welcoming as there are dance studios in just about every town across America so this is not a big city phenomenon. You don't even need a partner to participate. As a matter of fact about 80% of those who go for lessons do not have a dance partner (wink, wink, good place to meet others). If you do have a partner its a fun way to get in shape together and also built up some intimacy as dancing is about letting the man lead and reading his signals correctly as a couple. Its a great way to develop a passion and/or hobby to do together as a couple. If you are parent this could be a good date night activity to get in shape, be with your partner and have time away from the kiddies. Plus it makes you feel sexy and accomplished when you start to master the dance.

Natalie enjoying the Salsa and tequila perhaps a little too much!

I am very big on mixing up your exercises routines so they do not become boring and tedious so for me yoga, some weight-lifting and dancing, particularly salsa has been a good way to get all I need without thinking exercise is a chore. I don't think you can say that when you are on the stationery bike or elliptical machine. I always feel like I am grinning and bearing it on any gym equipment. Besides salsa has been proven to be a great way to get both aerobic AND anaerobic exercise. I also just recently found out it helps built up your memory and helps fight dementia. That's a Win/Win/Win situation!

So if you want to go away from your exercises with a smile on your face, laughing and wondering where the time went, I highly recommend you try salsa!



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