Dancing into Fitness

In the last couple of weeks of school before the year ended, it was so hectic that I couldn’t find the time to workout, let alone go hiking, so I tried filling in my weekly quota with extra sessions of Figurerobics with Jung Dayeon. Boy was that tough. I’m not the sort of person that has the due diligence to work out for the sake of working out. I get on a treadmill and count the seconds until I can get off it – and let me tell you that every second feels at least fifteen times longer than it does in real time.

I have come to the conclusion that the only way I’ll stay true to a workout schedule is if I can keep it fun. Unfortunately, Figurerobics is anything but. While I actively look forward to hiking, Figurerobics is just a box I can tick so I can say I’ve done my workout. It is a good workout – I’ll grant it that because I can feel the post-workout muscle burn – but I confess that I struggle to stick to a workout like this week in, week out, especially if I’m trying to hit the requisite weekly workout targetsRowing is marginally better because I can watch the idiot box while I’m at it and that makes the time pass faster, but even rowing gets a bit dull after a while.

MeThe only times I have ever had so much fun working out that I didn’t even think I was working out were the times when I was rock climbing, hiking or downhill skiing – and all pretty intense calorie-burning workouts, I might add.

According to My Fitness Pal (based on my stats and the level of intensity I work out at):

  • Rock climbing burns 748 calories per hour
  • Hiking burns 408 calories per hour
  • Skiing  burns 408 calories per hour – not to mention the added calories you burn freezing on the mountain top, carrying your skis around, and walking in heavy ski boots… (and if you don’t believe me, see how much you can eat on a ski trip without gaining any weight).

Unfortunately, as much as I love these activities, sometimes it isn’t conducive for me to do them – I can’t rock climb without a partner, I can’t hike when the weather is hazy, and I can’t ski except on holidays. So what else is a girl to do to have fun and workout?

Step Up Street Dance

I’ve always loved Step Up Dance movies. Every time I watch them, I want to dance. Except that I have two left feet and I can’t dance to save my life. So I decided that perhaps it was time to learn…

…except that the last time I did something like this – they called it Cardio Funk and it looked like this:

And oh boy was I terrible at it! I spent more time trying to figure out the moves than actually working out. I’m afraid I haven’t made any advances in this area since then. Any aerobics class that gets a little too clever with their moves is still beyond me. Clearly, I’m not cut out for a group dance class so to save myself the embarrassment and the dance instructor the annoyance of having to teach a student who just doesn’t “get it”, I decided to try out a few dance videos at home so I can rewind and slow-mo to my heart’s content. It’s slow going and we haven’t even gotten through the first part of the routine but I’ll be damned if I don’t nail those dance moves before the DVD gives out.

Was it fun? Yes, it was. I didn’t even notice the time zip by while I struggled to master even the simple moves.

Was it a good workout? Well, I was sweating in an air-conditioned room – if that counts. Perhaps I ought to start tracking my stats on the Polar Beat to get a better idea of how hard I’m working out.

Best of all, new research shows that dancing keeps your brain young:

Compared with exercise like cycling and Nordic walking, dancing has more profound effects.

“Exercise has the beneficial effect of slowing down or even counteracting age-related decline in mental and physical capacity. In this study, we show that two different types of physical exercise (dancing and endurance training) both increase the area of the brain that declines with age. In comparison, it was only dancing that lead to noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improved balance.” – Dr Kathrin Rehfeld

Now, let’s see how long we can keep this up before we rule on how effective a workout this is…

Working Out: