ClassPass Glossary: Dance Cardio from A to Z

You may already dance in front of your mirror or while out with friends on a Saturday night, but trust us, dance cardio classes are a whole other ball game. And if you steered clear because you thought you needed to be a good dancer: think again. Anyone can enjoy a dance cardio class because it’s not about perfectly nailing the moves, it’s about moving your body and getting in a workout (in a fun way). Keep reading for all the must-know terms before heading to a dance cardio class.


Ball change: A common dance move where you place weight onto the ball of one foot, then quickly shift weight back to the other foot.

Beat: The time unit of the music you’ll be dancing to during class. This is measured by counts.

Break it down: Your instructor may use this term when teaching a sequence of dance moves. Breaking it down refers to working on a sequence piece by piece, before stringing it all together.


Cool down: The portion of class that occurs at the end; this often incorporates stretching, deep breathing and a slowing of the heart rate. There are few breaks taken during cardio dance (which is why this workout is one of the most beneficial classes for burning fat), so relish this time to decompress.

Count: A count is how you will measure the beats while dancing. Instructors will typically follow an 8-count, which means a grouping of beats adding up to 8. Once your instructor reaches 8, she will start a new grouping at 1.

    • Whole Count: One beat
    • And count: Half a beat

Combination: A rhythmic string of moves.


Eight Count: A grouping of beats that add up to 8, then start again. This is the counting system typically used by dancers.


From the top: If your instructor shouts “from the top!”, he or she is saying to start the dance from the very beginning.


Holds: A hold is when you stay in place. Your dance instructor may shout something like “left leg, right leg, left leg and hold” where the “and hold” refers to keeping your left leg where it is.


Mark: To mark a dance or combination means to loosely practice the sequence with minimal effort; it’s often used to give a sequence a dry run before doing the entire dance.


Plié: Is a common move which requires a bending of the knees outward with the back held straight


Tempo: The speed of the music.

Transition: This term refers to moving from the end of one eight-count to the start of a new one.


Warm up: A warm up kicks the class off and may include some light cardio, stretches and simple moves to slowly increase the heart rate.


Zumba: A specific type of dance cardio class that is inspired by Latin American dance and is often set to Latin American music.

Stephanie Limiti is a born and raised New Yorker living out her dreams of palm trees and sunshine in Los Angeles. When she's not zenned out in yoga class, she's reading biographies and volunteering at dog rescue shelter. Follow her on Instagram.