Fitness — 20 June 2012
Dance as Fitness

by Alicia Sunshine, special to GroupTrails.  Photo by Lance Thurman

It is summertime! Well not officially, but Mother Nature has spoken early. This is the season of fun in the sun, and everyone is stepping up their fitness game. As we look around, we see people doing all kinds of activities to shape up, such as cycling, rollerblading, jogging and more.  However, if you are someone who resists the sun or needs something to do that doesn’t remind you of working out, dancing is perfect. It is a great way to get fit mentally, physically and emotionally. You can have fun, build muscle, gain flexibility, and add more dance moves to your repertoire.

Dance has always been a great source of fitness, from hip hop aerobics, Zumba, pole dancing classes and more. Although these great ideas catch our attention, taking a simple dance class is still a great way to get in shape.

Our brains, love a challenge and choreography can provide that for you. As our bodies and minds evolve from birth, we become ready for new adventures and ways of connecting to the world around us. For example, a toddler finds a challenge in walking and balancing, but the he or she finds enjoyment in getting better with each step. We are still the same today. Learning new and challenging movements makes us proud of our achievement.

Dancers have always had lean bodies because their muscles have to be strong, flexible and light enough for partnering. Taking a dance class will help you gain muscles for that wonderful swimsuit you would like to wear this summer. Movements like plies build the quadriceps muscle. Maintaining a flat back while dancing can help tone back and core muscles.

Finally, dancing feels good. It is something about hearing great music that connects us to the world through our feelings. Sometimes we want to have laugh-out-loud fun, and sometimes we just want to relax. Music naturally does this which leads to movement and dance. It also feels good because it bonds us with others. Dancing connects us in Black culture because our traditional dances are rooted in ancient ceremonies, our history, our connection to the planet and universe, and our experiences as a people. This becomes evident in West African, Caribbean, and even Hip Hop dances.

Ultimately, dancing is fun and attainable for all walks of life. It can be as simple or as challenging as we make it, but the thing to remember is that it’s a great tool to get in shape. Try dancing for fitness. I guarantee you’ll love it!

Alicia Sunshine, is an experienced dancer and dance instructor who has performed in nearly every area of dance.  Always busy perfecting her art, Sunshine still finds free time to teach urban youth the art of dance, and how the principles of dance can influence life.  Sunshine’s current project is Afro-Fusion, a dance class she teaches weekly. Contact her at or for details and booking.

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