When people talk about a “dancer body,” they’re typically referring to a body that’s long and lean. It’s often associated with slimmer frames.
The term is used to describe a specific look. However, it doesn’t mean dancing is limited to certain body types. Dance can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of their shape and size.
Moreover, dancing is an aerobic exercise with amazing health advantages. The activity can improve endurance, coordination, and more.
You don’t need a “dancer body” to enjoy these benefits, though. What matters most is that your body is healthy. This is what will make you feel good and strong, along with eating well, staying active, and viewing your body in a positive light.
If you’re interested in dance-based exercises, try the workouts in this article. Done regularly, these techniques will help you achieve your version of a healthy body.
As a form of cardio exercise, dance can enhance multiple aspects of your health.
Potential benefits of dance include:
- weight loss or maintenance
- increased heart health
- stronger muscles
- improved endurance
- increased bone strength
- improved self-esteem
- better balance and coordination
- improved mood and energy
- enhanced mental function
- better sleep
- anxiety and stress relief
There are countless ways to exercise like a dancer. One technique is to simply get up and move to your favorite song!
But if you’d like a choreographed routine, try any of the following dance-style workouts.
Barre is a ballet-inspired fitness program. It involves high repetitions and pulsing, which improves your endurance. Barre moves are typically adapted from ballet, Pilates, and yoga.
The exercise, which mainly uses your body weight, is done at a ballet barre. The goal is to tone the muscles while improving overall strength.
Barre techniques include:
The plié is a basic ballet movement. It engages your upper leg muscles, including your glutes and quads.
- Stand up straight. Place your feet together. Pull down your shoulders and tuck your tailbone toward the floor.
- Rotate your feet outward, heels together. Contract your glutes and thighs.
- Bend your knees without lifting your heels. Engage your core.
- Return to starting position.
Arabesque leg lift
This exercise is inspired by arabesque, a classic ballet move. Like the plié, arabesque works the glutes and thigh muscles.
- Stand in front of a barre or sturdy chair. Place your hands on the edge and face your feet forward.
- Step your right leg back, toes pointing behind you. Bend your left knee. Hinge forward from your hips, spine straight.
- Engage your core. Lift your right leg until it’s level with your hips. Lower your leg and tap the floor. Repeat.
- Switch legs and repeat.
Pilates involves low impact flexibility, stability, and endurance movements. It focuses on core and muscle strength, along with postural alignment.
The workout is excellent for sculpting your muscles. Many moves are dance-inspired, such as:
Plié slides challenge your thigh muscles, including your quads and glutes. They combine the basic ballet position with an extra leg movement.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Point your toes outward, feet under knees. Place a sliding disc or towel under one foot.
- Move the foot to the side. Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause.
- Slide your foot into starting position. Repeat.
- Switch legs and repeat.
Pilates roll up
As a standard Pilates move, the Pilates roll-up works your abs and back.
- Start on your back on a mat. Straighten your legs, relax your shoulders, and engage your core.
- Lift your arms, pointing to the wall behind you.
- Move your arms overhead. Drop your chin and lift your upper back. Engage your abs, curling up the rest of your body.
- Continue until you’re sitting up. Extend your arms like a ballerina.
- Pull your abs in, lower your body, and return to starting position. Repeat.
For a high energy workout, try Zumba. It features aerobics and dance moves performed to Latin American music.
Since Zumba involves the entire body, you’ll get a great full body workout. This helps tone muscles and improve endurance.
Try these Zumba moves:
This technique increases your heart rate while working the biceps and hamstrings. You can do it with or without weights.
- Place your feet slightly wider than hip-width. Move to the side, extend the opposite foot, and tap the floor. Keep alternating sides.
- To add the biceps curl, bring both arms to your chest as you step to the side.
- To add the hamstring curl, lift the extended foot toward your butt. Continue alternating sides.
Slides challenge your legs and arms while raising your heart rate.
- Place your feet wider than hip-width. Step to the side, slightly bending your knees in that direction. Bring your feet together.
- Repeat in the opposite direction. Continue stepping side to side.
- To add the arms, lift your arms to shoulder level each time you step. Repeat.
Step aerobics combines upbeat music, choreographed moves, and a raised platform. Stepping on the platform engages your muscles and gets your heart pumping.
Standard moves include:
- Stand in front of a step. Place your right foot on top.
- Step up with your left foot, then step back with your right.
- Step back with your left foot.
To do a basic left, lead with your left foot instead of your right.
Step up knee lift
- Stand in front of a step. Place your right foot on top.
- Lift your body up, bending your left knee to your chest. Simultaneously bend your right elbow, bringing your right hand to your shoulder.
- Step your left foot back and lower your arm. Step your right foot back. Repeat.
If you’d like to tone your muscles or lose weight, dancing can help. But as you move to the beat, try to focus on the overall benefits instead of obtaining a specific look.
What’s most important is that your body is healthy. This will help you manage any health conditions and reduce your risk of chronic disease.
After all, there isn’t a certain look that indicates wellness. Strong, healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes.
Dancing can help you achieve your version of health. It also gives you a chance to practice body positivity, which promotes physical and mental health.
As you explore dance-inspired exercise, here’s what you can do to become more body positive:
- Appreciate how your body can perform a routine.
- Recognize how dancing makes you feel.
- Notice positive changes in your mood, energy, and endurance.
- Honor the experience of learning something new.
- Avoid comparing yourself to other dancers.
By focusing on the amazing things your body can do, you can develop a healthier body image through dance.
Exercise is just one part of a healthy body. It’s also important to eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet.
In general, this includes:
- Fruits and vegetables. These are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. Make at least half your meal vegetables, and enjoy fruits as nutritious snacks.
- More whole grains. Unlike refined grains, whole grains like quinoa and oatmeal are high in essential nutrients.
- Lean protein. Enjoy a variety of lean protein, such as eggs, beans, and chicken breast.
- Less added sodium and sugars. Cut back on excess salt and sugar by eating less packaged or frozen foods.
- Healthy fats. Replace saturated fat with healthy unsaturated fat, like omega-3.
If you’re unsure where to start, aim to eat whole foods instead of processed foods. This is key for weight maintenance and overall health.
Talk to a trained professional if you’re looking for health-related guidance. An expert can provide personalized advice based on your needs and goals.
You can consult a pro if you need help with:
- Nutrition. A dietitian is a nutrition expert who can help you practice healthy eating. Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to find one.
- Exercise. For customized exercise instruction, work with a personal trainer. Find one through the American Council on Exercise.
- Body image. If you’re struggling with body image, meet with a mental health professional. Your doctor can refer you to a therapist or other expert in your area, or you can look for a psychologist via the American Psychological Association.
If you want to exercise like a dancer, try a program like barre or Zumba. These workouts combine dance choreography with endurance and stability moves.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to have a slim “dancer body” to be healthy. The goal is to improve overall wellness through regular physical activity, healthy eating, and body positivity.