The Fun (and Sweaty!) Benefits of Cardio Dance Classes

If you’ve shied away from taking a cardio dance class because you know some shimmying and shaking and rhythm-required moves are probably involved, you’re not alone. Because whether you have moves like Jagger or can’t hold an eight-count for the life of you, dancing in front of people in a classroom with wall-to-wall mirrors can be, well, intimidating. But those who’ve given it a try know there’s more to cardio dance class than just nailing the moves. In fact, cardio dance is one of the best and most enjoyable ways to break a sweat. Bonus: It will help you bust that lack-of-rhythm rut and have you salsa dancing and hip-shaking in no time.

What is cardio dance?

Imagine you’re in a nightclub with all your best friends. The music is bumping, the crowd is energetic, and you’re feeling good. You’re probably even sweating and your heart rate is up high. That’s cardio dance in a nutshell—minus the club scene, booze and late hours. Cardio dance classes fuse musical rhythms and choreographed dance moves together to create a dynamic workout that’s designed for fun—and a good workout!—in mind. Moving to the music allows your mind to relax while your body is in constant motion. The best part? No prior dance experience is required. Most classes offer easy-to-learn moves that anyone can pick up (yes, even us super uncoordinated folks!)

Who does cardio dance work for?

Cardio dance classes are great for everyone, from the fitness newbie who’s looking to get back in shape without jumping into a high-intensity boot camp to the dance fanatic who wants to channel her inner Beyonce. Cardio dance comes in all types of styles so you can choose one set of your favorite hip-hop tunes or country classics. And no matter the class, you can set your own pace. Most instructors provide modified versions of all their moves to cater to those with injuries or those who just want to take the intensity down a few notches.

The physical benefits of cardio dance

It utilizes different muscle groups.

Running and cycling are great workouts, but they only target certain areas of your muscle—namely the ones in your legs. Cardio dance is unique in the sense that it gives you a full-body aerobic workout, toning and shaping your muscles through specific high- and low-impact movements. Because most dance moves alternate among using your arms, legs and glutes, you’re almost always working your core, which keeps you balanced and helps you maintain proper form.

Improves coordination and rhythm, too!

They rhythmic movements you’ll find yourself doing in a cardio dance class might feel strange and unfamiliar at first, but over time, just like anything you do repeatedly, you’ll start to feel more comfortable (and might even look good while doing them!). Also, utilizing your different muscle groups helps you become more familiar with utilizing different areas of your body, which can help you with everyday activities such as walking or standing up straight.

It burns tons of fat.

When you’re getting your heart rate up high and are able to keep it at that level for extended periods of time, that means your body is burning fat. Because there are few breaks in cardio dance, it’s known as one of the most fat-burning workouts.

It tones your muscles.

Most people don’t think cardio dance is great for toning since you’re not lifting heavy weights or doing high-intensity intervals, but that’s not true. Dance cardio can be just as effective as any other exercise for toning and firming areas of your body—especially your legs, glutes and obliques.

The mental benefits of cardio dance

It can boost your brain.

When your body starts moving to the sound of music or even a drum beat, the reward centers in your brain are stimulated and your sensory and motor circuits are activated. Just like when you learn any activity, the neurons in your brain are activated and your memory and recall is also enhanced. In fact, science is so behind the benefits of dance for your brain, that the activity is now being used to treat people with Parkinson’s disease!

It can improve your mood.

If just the beat and rhythm of a great song doesn’t already have you feeling a whole lot better about your day, moving your body along to the music will have you in higher spirits in no time. In fact, one Swedish study, which followed 112 teen girls struggling with stress, anxiety and depression, among other ailments, found that those who took dance classes improved their mental health and reported a boost in mood. These positive effects even lasted up to eight months after classes ended!

It breaks workout monotony.

Let’s face it—doing the same workout every single day can get old. Plus, working the same muscle groups for the same amount of time actually builds up a tolerance so that you’re not getting as good of a workout you once were doing the same exact thing. Crazy, right? Cardio dance is different because it’s constantly switching up movements. It also is easier on your muscles because you’re not utilizing them until the point of exhaustion.

Join ClassPass!

If you’re looking to get back into the swing of a fitness routine, but are craving something fun, motivating and addicting, give cardio dance a try. We offer an extensive variety of studios and classes in all neighborhoods—from urban hip-hop to classic jazz and even salsa! Happy dancing!

Jenn Sinrich is an editor in New York City, a self-proclaimed foodie always looking for the healthier version of all recipes, a passionate lover of all things cheese, a friendly New Yorker, Bostonian at heart and proud Red Sox fan. Love cats? Cheese? Mac n' Cheese? Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.