Any Grey’s Anatomy fan worth their Netflix password knows that the solution to a bad day is simply to dance it out. What you may not know, though, is that Meredith and Christina’s favorite end-of-day activity isn’t just great for calming anxiety — whether or not there’s tequila involved — but it also happens to be an easy (and fun!) way to get a workout in. Cardio dance parties are the latest fitness craze, but you don’t have to go to a gym-turned-nightclub to get involved.
"At-home dance parties are great workouts,” says Selena Watkins, a NASM certified personal trainer, founding instructor at Studio, and creator of Socanomics Caribbean Dance Workout. "Whether you are following along to an instructor, a Youtube video or just free-styling in your kitchen, you are guaranteed to work up a sweat.”
When you don’t feel like going to the gym or to a group class, put on your favorite songs and throw yourself a cardio dance party at home instead. Music does several things for your workout, so a curated playlist is key, says Watkins. "Music sets the mood of your workout, so that it can match your intention for the day. It also sets the tempo; if you intend move at a certain BPM or even run at a certain number of SPM, the music can be your metronome.”
And while the internet is ripe with inspiration by way of cardio dance videos (Nina Dobrev’s new “BODYJAM” workout for Reebok is one of my personal favorites), doing it DIY style can be just as effective. "Dance moves are so universal and there are an infinite number of moves,” says Watkins.
To really get your heart rate up and burn calories fast, she suggests moves that incorporate plyometrics or rebounding. Think squat jumps, lateral leaps, and scissor lunges. With these explosive movements, 10 minutes is enough to get your heart beating. "Even if you need modified movement without any jumping, the action of moving high to low is great for building both endurance and strength,” she adds. The best part? You can burn upwards of 400 calories per hour.
Start with a mobility warmup to get your joints good and ready, then do some simple movements to prep your heart and lungs. For something a bit more structured, Watkins recommends stringing together some 16- or 32-count choreography that can be repeated throughout the length of a song. Most importantly, she says, have fun with it. Try twerking and body rolling. Or, if that’s not your thing, bounce around as you please.
“Turn up the music and watch how your body happily responds,” says Watkins.