Something to Dance About
By Katherine Wernet
International Dance Day is Monday, April 29th—a day to remind ourselves how meaningful dance is. Dance is not only an art form that crosses language and cultural barriers, but it’s also part of how Americans stay healthy—physically and mentally. From traditional ballet to hip hop, cardio dance, Zumba®, Buti yoga and even barre class (that barre had to come from somewhere!), dance is a significant way Americans get fit.
Dance is one of the most popular ways to exercise
As part of the MINDBODY Wellness Index, we asked over 16,000 Americans about their workout habits. Our 2019 Fitness in America report breaks down the results, and America's dance game is strong. Dance classes offer a fun, full-body workout with instructors teaching calorie-burning choreography, and Zumba® or similar dance fitness made it into the top three facility-based group exercises. That's not the only dance showing that made into the top group exercises. General dance came in fourth.
Americans aren't just dancing in class, either. Dance made it into the top exercises that Americans engage in alone, too; 12% percent of Americans who regularly exercise alone are dancing. Instructor or not, people are busting a move.
Mickela Mallozzi, the Emmy® Award-winning TV host and executive producer of Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi, has dedicated her life to being a student of dance around the world. She says of dance, “I love using dance as a workout because I’m raising my heart rate with a smile on my face the whole time–it allows you to actually enjoy burning calories. I’m the 'running-on-a-treadmill-is-torture' type of person, so when I can get my cardio and strength training in a class that incorporates movement, fun music, and interaction with other dancers, I feel happy after class, not defeated! The endorphins kicking in are what make dance classes so enjoyable!”
Dancing throughout life
The wide range of dance styles and class types mean that dancers can do what they love for decades. The Latin-inspired Zumba®/similar dance fitness classes are consistently the third most popular form of facility-based group exercise across 18-25, 26-45, and 46-65 year-olds. More traditional dance also has wide appeal; it ranks fourth for 18-25, fifth for 26-45, and seventh for 46-65 year-olds.
Dance fitness trend poised to continue
Dance studios need not fret they've saturated the market. We asked what people wanted to try next. Pole dancing makes into the top 10 exercises that 18-25 year-olds want to try next. The 46-65 year-old group has more potential dancers in the mix, too. Ten percent want to try a traditional dance class, and 9% are keen to try Zumba® or similar dance fitness classes.
Dance fitness for mental health
While there are many reasons to dance, it turns out that Americans who work out to destress are more likely to book Zumba® and other dance fitness classes. Twenty percent of Americans who choose traditional dance classes or dance fitness say they exercise because they want to feel more confident. Dance isn’t just about a physical workout–it’s a mental one, too.
This is another draw for Mallozzi. She says, “Dance has changed my life, literally–as I child and currently as an adult, I get easily distracted, and with the advent of smartphones, social media, and constant access to information, that source of distraction has grown. Dance allows your brain to focus, both on the mental and the physical demands of choreography, muscle movement, repetition, musical cues, and more. It is a full body and mind experience that studies have shown keep you sharp well into old age (a study by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine showed that the only [physical] activity for seniors above 75 that helped slow down the onset of dementia was dance!).”
Boosting fitness and building community with dance fitness
Rachel Vickhouse, owner of MVP Dance Fit in Kettering, Ohio, has seen how dancing together motivates her clients at her dance studio. "They surround each other with like this strength–more than just fitness strength. I mean, they're there, and they're sweating. And they're working out together and then pushing each other to work out. And so many clients have gotten incredible results," she says. The sense of community that's grown through her two studio locations wows her; "You feel like you can call on like anybody who goes there, like any client, any staff member, like if you're on the side of the road in the middle of the night, you can call any of them, they're going to come and take care of you." MVP Dance Fit has grown to be more than just a fitness studio for her clients. (Learn more about the studio’s story here.)
Dance is a rare workout that serves as art and expression, a stress-reliever and confidence builder, and a full-body, cardio workout. It’s helped Rachel Vickhouse build community in Ohio, and it’s sent Mickela Mallozzi on a global journey to meet and connect with new friends through her passion. Whether it's jazz or Jazzercise that gets you moving, there are plenty of reasons to love dance and dance fitness. This April 29th, get up and dance.