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Dancing the Calories Away!

Think back to when you were in high school, and attended The Big Dance. Were you a wallflower, who broke out in a cold sweat at the very idea of getting out on the dance floor? Or were you like those kids on Footloose, and could bust out Kevin Bacon-style moves? Despite how you personally feel about dancing, you can’t ignore the fact that it’s wildly popular – both in the club, and in the fitness world. From Zumba to BODYJAM to even your mother’s old-school Jazzercise, there’s a dance fitness class for every preference and fitness level. But how many calories do those classes actually burn? Curious, I did a little research. Below is the calorie burn of different forms of dance, ranging from the classics (ballroom, line dancing) to today’s popular fitness workouts. I even threw in a few old-school goodies for laughs.

First, the basics. According to CalorieLab.com, the following categories of basic dancing styles burn:

  • Ballet or modern, twist, jazz, tap, jitterbug: 258 calories/hour

  • General Dancing (which includes Greek, Middle Eastern, hula, flamenco, belly, and swing): 238 calories/hour

  • Ballroom, fast (which includes disco, folk, square, line dancing, Irish step dancing, polka, contra, and country): 238 calories/hour

  • Ballroom, slow (which includes the waltz, foxtrot, slow dancing, samba, tango, 19th century, mambo, and the cha-cha): 136 calories/hour

Now, let’s see how the popular dance workouts we know and love stack up:

  • Zumba: This Latin-style dance workout boasts an hourly calorie burn of 500-1000 calories, but there are some schools of thought that put actual calorie burn in the 350-650 range.

  • Country Heat: Country Heat is the newest dance fitness workout in the Beachbody family inspired by, you guessed it, country line dancing. While I could not find an average number of calories burned, anecdotal numbers suggest somewhere in the 200s per routine (roughly).

  • SH’BAM: SH’BAM can be found in the Les Mills family of workouts, and pits simple dance moves against current chart-topping hits. Average calorie burn is estimated to be 506 calories per class.

  • BODYJAM: Also a Les Mills workout, BODYJAM’s dance moves are bit more complicated than SH’BAM’s. While SH’BAM is good for beginners or people with two left feet, BODYJAM caters to those who have some dance skills. Like SH’BAM, the soundtrack is comprised of current chart-toppers. Average calorie burn is 530 calories per class.

  • Jazzercise: Your mother’s favorite dance aerobics class actually boasts some decent calorie burn numbers: 430-475 calories per each hour-long class. And with an updated, more modern, brand, I’m thinking the matriarch of dance fitness routines just might deserve another look.

  • Sweatin’ to the Oldies: If Livestrong.com is to be believed, Richard Simmons’ corny, high school prom-themed dance workout set to the hits of the 50s and 60s actually has a calorie burn that’s nothing to laugh at: between 300-600 calories. Of course, this doesn’t include the calories burned when you check to make sure nobody else is home before doing this workout.

Please keep in mind that the above numbers are an average estimate, and actual calorie burn depends on your weight, the intensity at which you work out, and the number of minutes performed. But I think they’re enough to see that dancing – no matter what form it takes – can be a valuable and fun addition to your workout routine. So lace up your shoes, and in the words of Kevin Bacon – LET’S DAAAANCE!