Reimagine workouts with dance fitness
It’s hump day and for some, it’s halfway through the week of consuming planned meals and making necessary visits to the gym. For others, it’s the median between stress and anxiety. And for the selected optimists, it’s two days away from the weekend. Whichever energy captains your boat, nothing beats treating your mind, body, and soul with some much-needed therapy. That’s where dance fitness comes in.
According to dance fitness expert, Steven Cornwall, dance on a whole is a holistic experience that connects the aforementioned life trifecta. “So dance fitness improves the condition of your heart and lungs, increases muscular strength, endurance, and motor fitness, increases aerobic fitness, improves muscle tone and strength, it’s great for weight management, gives you stronger bones, and reduces the risk of osteoporosis, better coordination, agility and flexibility,” the co-owner and artistic director of Vybance Ja said.
An instructor for over a decade, he realised that companies and gyms were enlisting dance instructors to spice up their fitness programmes. His first class was at a gym and people enjoyed the vibe so much that he made a career out of it.
His classes explore the surging and trending waves of dancehall, soca, Afrobeats, and jazz, among others. Any genre you can think of, it can be or has been done. Sessions are usually open to all levels, students of varying ages, ranges, and sizes are invited and encouraged to leave all problems at the door, let go and just be themselves. “There’s no judgement,” he chimed in by saying.
If you are not familiar with dance fitness, here’s some insight. The class begins with a quick warm-up to awaken the joints and muscles. From there, Cornwall takes his students through a quick and easy tutorial of the dances he is about to teach. This conditions the mind and body to be ready and on high alert for the festive activity.
What follows is a short but exciting dance routine that is taught step by step and then repeated to test stamina and endurance. Attendees can unleash their alter ego and work up quite a sweat in the process. Before they know it, it’s time for a chill cool-down exercise to relax the mind, body, and soul.
“Most people really love what I like to call the Steven Experience. I’ve heard it’s life-changing, I’ve heard ‘Where have you been all my life?’; persons have come to me and say I’ve unlocked a side of them that has been hiding for so long. They feel more confident, they’re having fun, and it doesn’t feel like a workout or a class; it feels like a party. And I’ve heard that I keep people fit and current with the dance moves,” he shared.
Cornwall is intent on changing the narrative on how wellness enthusiasts and professionals view dance fitness, after having a clear understanding of both worlds.
He admitted to not being a fan of fitness initially because he danced full time and believed that was all he needed to maintain his fitness. He would soon come to realise that he was sadly mistaken.
Extensive research later, he went in with the wellness goal of addressing the physical leg of the journey. “I would follow a lot of fitness pages online and see people transforming their bodies, building muscles and confidence. I wanted a body like that, so I started my journey and have never looked back,” he shared candidly.
Incorporating a steady and effective fitness routine in his life not only made him look, but he began feeling good too, mentally and physically. “It provided a nice balance and I found myself more productive and efficient with tasks or teaching classes.”
His typical day starts with a 7:30 a.m. wake up for breakfast and progresses to the gym at 9:30. Cornwall prefers working out in the mornings because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. “I usually work out for an hour and a half, sometimes two hours, depending on if I’m working on my upper body or lower body.”
The exercises do vary but the main focus is weight training. After completing his workout at 11 or 11:30 a.m., it’s time for a protein shake. Teaching at 1 p.m., he has a late lunch at 2:30 in the afternoon. He goes into instructor mode until 7:30 or 8 p.m. and activates dancer mode thereafter, where he rehearses until 10 p.m. “I am usually snacking in between and I drink a lot of water as well. After rehearsals, I will have dinner,” he added.
Achieving this balance was very difficult at first, especially given the mission for each. Shedding some light on the matter, he explains, “Although they seem to work hand in hand, it’s two different worlds. With dance, I’m trained to have longer, lengthier limbs, but with fitness and weights training my muscles tend to get shorter. So what I have had to do was to constantly stretch my muscles after working out and do a lot of body conditioning.”
His advice for those struggling with weight issues is to start doing research, discover your body type, find a trainer or a programme that you can trust, and stick to it. “You have to want it and you have to go after it. But consistency is key. Be patient with your body as well.” And always consider dance fitness as a viable cardio option.