The love of dance for most of us stems from it being FUN! While this is true, dance is absolutely a skill, much like learning a new language (turns and leaps, anyone?). These new moves and patterns take time and consistency to master and even seasoned dance cardio pros don’t get it right every time. There is beauty in embracing the beginner’s mindset when perfecting dance cardio and you are never too advanced to sharpen your form.
Thats why we sat down with Natalie Vatalaro, Director of Training + DanceBody Trainer, to talk about all things dance cardio and break down the top form mistakes she spots in dance cardio classes. Keep reading to find out how to make the most of your workout (with demos by Mindi Kirsch, Creative Director, showing the right and wrong way to do each move).
Mistake 1: Landing With Flat Feet
DanceBody classes have A LOT of jumping, which is why this tip is #1. Rolling through your feet rather than landing flat will help to avoid injury and give you that light, lifted feeling during cardio. So much so that your neighbors should never know you are working out (minus the amazing beats blasting)!
How to fix it: "When jumping, you want to think about rolling through your entire foot instead of landing flat. This is a high impact workout so you want to absorb shock by landing toe-ball-heel and bending slightly through the knees, then pressing heel-ball-toe all the way up every single time," says Natalie.
"Signature and Full Out Classes are 45 minutes of dancing, most of which involves jumping, so you want to think about landing lightly and rolling through your feet. When you land correctly, you allow yourself to continue dancing forever because you are reducing the impact on your joints over time," explains Natalie.
Mistake 2: Ab Engagement During Cardio
Want dancer abs? The true secret is to activate your core at all times - not just during Sculpt or the abs sections of class.
"It’s easy to forget to engage your abs during dance cardio," Natalie says. "We always think about abs when we are doing crunches, but that same mindset should apply when dancing as that is the most important way to help stay so graceful and light on our feet," explains Natalie.
How to fix it: Before class, take a few minutes to find ab activation. Standing tall, place your hand flat right below your belly button, inhale and then sharply exhale pulling your abs away from your hand. Do this 3-5x and remember this engaged feeling while you are dancing.
“I like to check in with my abdominal muscles during those quick water breaks. An easy reassessment will help you continue through class efficiently. Holding your core should never restrict breathing, but instead enable you to jump higher and work harder,” says Natalie.
“During the lower impact songs, you should feel your abs BURN. The transverse movement of twisting and rotating will push you to all the right places to strengthen and tone your abs,” she adds.
Mistake 3: Not Using Arms During Cardio
“Reach through your fingertips” and “press through your hands” You hear this all the time from your DB Trainers, but what does this mean? Whether there is a choreographed move or not, your arms should always have a place and a purpose (i.e that burn you feel when you just hold your arms out to the side for an entire song).
"Sometimes when focusing on the feet, the upper body can be forgotten, and you’ll see ‘flailing limbs’. As we always say, the dancer's six-pack is on your back," says Natalie. "This means everything should come from your center and your arms should constantly have energy running through them during class" she says.
How to fix it: Hold your arms out to the side, reach through your fingertips, and pretend that there is a weight at the end of each of your hands (or just add Dance Bands!). “For high impact Dance Cardio, you want to think that your arms are specifically choreographed to be held out or up, elbows away from your body and back engaged,” says Natalie. “For lower impact Dance Cardio, imagine you are moving through water and there is resistance all around you,” she explains.
Making these changes will have a huge impact on your experience at DanceBody (and beyond!). Remember that consistency is key and always Keep Moving.
Want more? Head here for all the details on 3 exercises to warm up your feet and learn to jump the right way.