Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dancing classes can be a fun workout

Last night was mine and Anny's first class of Kizomba, a sensual African dance originating from Angola.  There were 3 other men who attended the class and 2 other ladies, making 7 students in total plus the teacher.  Two of the men were African so I suspected that they would have good rhythm, and pick up the dance fairly easily compared to the average European.

The teacher herself is Swiss and she first encountered Kizomba whilst she was in Portugal, and has been teaching it for around 4 years.  She told us that she teaches Kizomba not in the original style, but rather in one that is adapted to European brains.  What she means by this apparently is that Europeans are very fond of fancy moves and footwork, so she is essentially teaching a jazzed up version of the original dance.

The basic steps seemed quite easy and we were able to start dancing in couples after around quarter of an hour of learning them.  The beat is also very simple and easy to follow when compared to a dance like salsa or bachata.  Sonja (the teacher) showed us the various ways to hold our partner, ranging from very close and personal to slightly more spaced apart (which she said was useful when dancing with someone who is really sweaty or whom you don't like very much).  The trick for the ladies to keep their distance when the man is trying to get closer than they are comfortable with is to use their elbow on the mans upper chest as a spacer.  With Anny I was dancing much closer than I was with the other ladies, being the angel that I am.  None of the ladies used their elbow to keep me at bay thank goodness, so I cannot be that sweaty or undesirable.

Kizomba music is lovely to listen to as well as dance to.  The words are sung in Portuguese though, so I have absolutely no clue what they sing about, with the only Portuguese word I know being "um beijo" (after hearing it numerous times from my colleague Chris when he is talking to his wife).  "Um beijo" literally means "a kiss".  It could be that they are singing about killing people and gangsters for all I know, but I imagine they are actually singing about love and romance and sex, which is much nicer.

The class was very enjoyable and does give a little bit of a workout.  I cannot use it as a replacement for a run however, as one of the 3 key points Sonja said to keep in mind whilst dancing Kizomba is to be lazy and conserve your energy.  It can serve as a supplement to the rest of my training regime though.  I am very much looking forward to the next class.

Do you use dance as part of your training program for another sport?  If so, I would be interested to hear about it.


  1. I do the BeachBody workouts (www.beachbody.co.uk) which do involve some kind of street dancing, although I don't think anybody could get so sweaty and heavy breathing after merely dancing :d. They're really hardcore. This is part of my losing weight goal, I still have a long way to go until I choose to take on the Moroccan marathon... Keep on the good work. Can't wait to read about Trail Ticino!

  2. Hi Cath. Thanks for your support. I went to the link you provided and I see it mentions Insanity. I know that workout series from when I visited Rwanda, as Anny's sister and her boyfriend were following it when they lived there. It looked really intense, kind of like boot camp, but self motivated boot camp. Hope the rest of the series goes well for you and that it it remains fun.

  3. Wow. I don’t do dance as my sport, but I do know for a fact that it helps us to feel younger. :) It is beneficial for our cardiovascular system and increases our lung’s capacity. The muscle and breathing effort exerted by dancers is equivalent to those of cyclists and swimmers. Hmm. If I’m not mistaken, Kizomba originated way back in 1980s. One who dances the latter, needs a great amount of flexibility in the knees because of the frequent up and down steps.

    Celia Maciomhair

  4. Hi Celia. What do you do as your sport?

    I think that dances like salsa are a great cardiovascular workout, but Kizomba so far has not got me out of breath. The teacher says try to be as lazy as possible in our movement - no wasted energy.

    You are right about the knees. As with most African dances it is very "grounded".

    Regardless of the workout there is definitely a feel good factor also. Sometimes I am very tired when I enter the class and feel like maybe skipping it. But after dancing for a few minutes I start to wake up, and I leave the class with more energy than when I came in. It might be good to have dance classes in the morning before work to energise you ready for the day ahead.

  5. Physical activities such as dancing reduce tension and stress. I’ve seen various kinds of dancing, what I’ve seen consistent with all kinds of dancing is the intense connection between the dancers the music. And yes, I think Kizomba tends to relax the body and mind because it has a slow, sensual feel that entices you to groove to the music.