Dance Yourself Fit

By Carolyn Evan-Watkins   [email protected]

Carolyn Evan-Watkins is a sports, fitness and Pilates instructor with more than 15 years experience. She is a lecturer, teaching and assessing instructors in health and fitness. Carolyn has also been a Government advisor, and still writes and presents her own courses within this field. She moved to the Algarve last year and teaches Pilates classes in Vale do Lobo and Boliqueime.

With a new series of a very popular dance-based television show on our screens, it’s a good time to look at how dance can keep us fit.

If we talk about exercise, it can make us think it’s going to be hard work, a chore to many of us.

If, on the other hand we talk about dance, it makes us think of something quite different – fun. 

We know that it is important that we do some cardiovascular exercise, and dancing is a brilliant way of achieving this and not realising how hard you are working.

A new craze in dance fitness is called Zumba, which is based on Latin American dance styles.

Zumba classes are now available in fitness centres and gyms in the Algarve, and although it’s a workout that raises your heart rate, it feels more like an hour of dance.

Zumba classes are attracting people who would normally be too nervous or intimidated to go to a gym or studio class.

Originally developed by a Colombian aerobics instructor in the 90s, it’s a mix of movements borrowed from Latin dances like the samba, salsa, cha cha and merengue. 

The atmosphere is friendly, and to go to a Zumba class you don’t have to know any of the steps to be able to take part in the class, and you don’t have to be young – all ages and body types are welcome and get so much out of these sessions.  

But does it give you a decent workout? Yes it does. Zumba is based on interval training – which means you have a mix of faster and slower movements.

The fast bits allow you to get your heart rate up and improve your cardiovascular fitness, while the slower bits allow your body recovery time so it’s not too exhausting, especially for beginners and less fit participants.

As well as increasing your cardiovascular fitness it also works your core muscles – and you all know how important I think that is for everyone.

Because of the way your body moves with Zumba, your core muscles are engaged all the time.  

Dance generally will work so many different parts of your body, so if you get the chance of going along to a dance class or Zumba session, give it a go. 

My motto of HAVE FUN GET FIT really does apply to these classes.

Carolyn Evan-Watkins is a sports, fitness and Pilates tutor with more than 15 years experience. She can be contacted by email at [email protected]