Thinking about dance classes? Here’s why they're a good idea (and how to get over the nerves)
Dance is not a cookie cutter sport that’s only designed for one person. The beauty of dance is that it can be enjoyed by any age, any gender and any size. Which is why the number of people signing up for dance classes is rocketing.
It’s not just about getting fit (although that is definitely a welcomed consequence); dance is a form of self-expression and a creative outlet. You could be grooving to hip hop at a Bodyjam session one week and getting your swoon on at a Kizomba class the next.
But often the hardest first step can be the one that gets you to the dance class in the first place. If that’s the case with you, here are just a few reasons you should get over the nerves and participate.
1. It torches calories. You only need one night on the dancefloor at a wedding to know that dancing raises the heartbeat (and eyebrows: we’re looking at you exceptionally drunk cousin). Heading to a regular aerobic dance class (such as Zumba) is just as helpful for shedding weight and boosting fitness as cycling or jogging.
2. It’s good for the soul. Dancing can lift the spirits in a way that no other exercise can. It’s like taking a mini holiday from everyday stress - you have to be mindful and be in the moment. Got the blues? Sign up for a dance class and boogie yourself happy.
3. It helps you age gracefully. As well as working your body, you’re also training your brain. You learn a routine, memorise it, practice it and often find yourself going through the motions in your head in the shower or making a cup of tea before your final performance. Studies on dance and the brain have shown that dancing may boost your memory and can even lower the risk of dementia.
4. It helps your heart. We don’t know about you, but waltzing sounds like a great way to reduce cardiovascular disease to us. Recent studies have shown that those who dance were less likely to have long-standing illnesses and had lower heart disease mortality rates than those who didn’t.
5. It’s great for making friends. Dance classes are ideal settings to socialise and make new friends with similar interests. Having a strong social network has been linked to a stronger immune system; friends can lower your levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) - and so can dance! Double win.
Tips for getting over dance class nerves
Going to your first dance class can be a little nerve-wracking, especially if you’re shy, introverted or heading to a session alone. Here are a few pointers to ease you in…
• Don’t arrive too early. The longer you hang around, the more nervous you may become. Try to arrive around five minutes before class - just the right amount of time to take a seat on the floor (or start stretching) and smile at other people who might be just as nervous as you are.
• Talk to people. Those other solo participants? Introduce yourself! Chances are there’s at least one other person who is hoping to make a friend too. Don’t overthink it, just say hi and ask if this is their first class too. If you run out of things to say just turn to face the instructor and wait for the class to start.
• Watch your instructor, not the class. They’re the ones that created the choreography, so pay attention. If this means you have to stop and take in each move first, then do it. Also, watching yourself in the mirror can help perfect your moves.
• Believe you can dance. Anyone can dance; it’s all about positive vibes, moving and having fun. If you want to stand at the back, that’s fine. In fact, if you’re brand new that’s where you’ll probably be - with the regulars at the front. Whatever you do - let go, enjoy the moment and be you.