October 2021

Building Core Strength Through Dance Fitness

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Building Core Strength Through Dance Fitness

Did you know that dance is one of the best ways to work your core? Yep. Your torso is the hub for some of your body’s most important structural systems. Read on to get the skinny on why core strength is so critical and how to get core-strong with some fun core strengthening exercises.

What Is the Core?

Is having a strong core synonymous with six-pack abs? Not so much. In reality, as Breaking Muscle explains, “Your core is a complex series of muscles, extending far beyond your abs, including everything besides your arms and legs.” The core includes some of the muscles many exercisers know, like the rectus abdominis (the six-pack) and the external obliques (the slabs of muscles on each side of the abs). It also includes many deeper muscles, like the diaphragm and pelvic floor.

The core has a super important job in the human body. It stabilizes and controls the pelvis and spine. It can also create movement as well as transfer force between the legs and arms. Almost everything you do, from running to lifting grocery bags and shaking what your mama gave ya, requires the use of your core. 

Why It Pays to Strengthen Your Core

Think of your core as the foundation for your entire body. Every major movement you perform requires your core in some fashion. As Breaking Muscle explains, “Core strength is less about power and more about the subtleties of being able to maintain the body in ideal postures – to unload the joints and promote ease of movement.”

A weak core can lead to poor posture or force other muscles to compensate for a rounded back or tilted pelvis. One of the most important reasons to build a strong core through core stability exercises is to prevent injury. Additionally, a strong core can also more effectively transfer force during dynamic movements. This can help you perform more difficult physical movements (such as a flawless chaturanga dandasana in yoga) or keep your posture on point throughout an entire dance class. 

Can You Dance Your Way to a Stronger Core?

Most Jazzercise classes don’t typically include a round of crunches or a full minute of planking, so how can dance classes be an effective core workout? It all comes down to stability. You need your core to help stabilize your body while you dance, which, in turn, means you are constantly utilizing your core muscles, including deep core muscles, while you dance. 

If you ever took a dance class as a young child, you may remember your instructor telling you to tighten or “tuck in” your tummy. That’s just another way of helping young dancers begin to activate their core as they learn to dance. As an adult, you may feel your core heat up during a long dance session.

Julianne Hough from Dancing with the Stars, admits that she doesn’t do ab exercises to get her flat tummy. Instead, in an interview with Self, she admitted, "With dancing, there are little tiny muscles that I feel like I get to [work] when I'm moving my whole body in a fluid motion.” The article explains that those tiny muscles are muscles of the core that Julianne uses to stabilize her body as she dances. The article goes on to quote Jacque Crockford, an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise, who says, “The core is essential in controlling the center of the body so that the appendages can move in the way the dancer intends. Without a strong core, the integration can be interrupted and the dance less fluid.”

Now that you know how you can build core stability in dance, are you ready to learn some of our favorite core stability exercises? 

How to Improve Core Stability in Dance

If you’re looking for deep core exercises, the dancing you already love to do during Jazzercise can help you get at those difficult-to-work muscles. To start, be mindful of your core before you begin your dance fitness class or any other movement-based activity. Remain aware of your posture and try to activate your core muscles as you begin to move. Here are specific dance moves that can also work as core strengthening exercises.

Pelvis Tucks

This is a simple and fun movement to begin with and will encourage you to activate your deeper core muscles. To perform a pelvis tuck, start by placing your hands on your hips. Then press your hips forward and tuck upward. Imagine trying to press your belly button into your spine during this movement.

Elbow-to-Hip

As the music plays, bring your right knee out and up to the side. At the same time, bring your right arm down, with your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle. Squeeze your abs as you crunch and imagine touching your elbow to your knee. Don’t just bend – actively use your obliques to pull your elbow and knee close together. Switch sides and do the same thing with your left arm and leg.

Forward Claps

The forward clap is a great warmup. When you do it right, you’ll feel your belly muscles begin to heat up. Swing your arms out to your sides to make a T, then bring them together, still straight, and clap your hands. As you clap your hands, tuck your belly in toward your spine. To add a little challenge to this movement, step side to side as you do your forward claps.

Hip Box

This core stability exercise will really get you. Place your hands on your hips, then move your hips back, left, forward, then right, to make a box shape. This can also feel a little like you’re hula-hooping. The key is to use the muscles of your core to move your hips, not your glutes. This movement looks awesome and can be adapted to lots of different types of dancing.

Combine Dance Fitness with Strength Training

Dancing is a highly effective core workout, especially when your goal is to improve your core stability. Core strengthening exercises, like planks, Russian twists and Supermen, can also help you improve your core. At Jazzercise, we offer dance-only classes as well as classes that mix dance with strength-training. No matter which class you pick, including our on-demand workouts, you’ll get a great workout in a friendly and welcoming environment. Try a class today!

It’s time to fall in love with exercise! Find your nearest Jazzercise and learn more about our latest offers.

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