Dancing to improve your fitness

Some of our members have recently shown a keen interest in dancing for fun and also as a way of improving their fitness.  Many people don’t think of dance at first as a form of getting in shape but actually it is a very good way of doing so.

There are many forms of dance for example ballroom, disco, morris dancing and even barn dancing.  It’s always just been part of being human from the days of rituals and celebrations. Nowadays, it’s more about recreation, self expression and competition.

dance rehearsal

Benefits of dancing

Obviously dancing requires a range of movement.  Because of this, it can provide many benefits:

  • Aerobic fitness improves due to having to breathe a lot more when compared to resting.
  • As more blood is circulated when dancing, the condition of the heart is improves.
  • All that movement, some of which requires a reasonable amount of strength, meaning that muscular endurance, strength and motor fitness is improved.
  • Dancing can also increase weight loss.  It is said that on average 400 calories are burnt per hour.  So with the correct diet, this is highly beneficial.
  • The movement from dancing will cause bones to develop making them stronger and reducing the risk of osteoporosis
  • Improved coordination is a result of dancing as it does require you to have a level of control over your body.  This is only improves with practice.
  • After a while of dancing, you will notice that your balance and spatial awareness will be greatly improved if you have not been dancing previously.
  • Along with all of this, meeting new people will improve your social skills, self confidence and self esteem.


How to get dancing

You can dance on your own, with a partner of in a group.  There are many different places where dancing takes place.  Community halls and dance schools are great place to start but you can even get going in your own home.  It has actually become quite a popular method to keep in good shape and so many fitness centres and gyms also provide dance classes.
It is possible to dance both competitively or socially and it is a great choice of sport as anyone at any age can do it.  Also it does not depend on the weather as many other sports do.  The equipment and clothing will differ between types of dance.  One thing that you will most likely need is a leotards.  There are various types of dance leotards available and again this is down the type of dance that you choose and also personal preference. For some types of dance you need equipment such as ballet where you need the correct ballet shoes and potentially a tutu.

Why powerlifting belts are important

A weight lifting or powerlifting belt’s primary function is not to support the back as is what is commonly believed.  It is to assist in creating intra-abdominal pressure which in turn supports the spine and the entire torso.  This is is helpful when performing those heavy lifts.  In particularly squats and deadlifts.  To get the best out of a belt, you need to do something called the Valsalva Maneuver.  This is done by inhaling a large amount of air and keeping it in the lungs and then attempting to exhale against a closed airway.  Imagine when you are trying to push a heavy piece of furniture, this is what most people do automatically.  This creates pressure around the midsection, making it more robust and allows force to travel through the body more efficiently.  This breathing technique does take some practice to get perfect and this is something that a professional powerlifter has usually mastered.  Sometimes somebody isnt considered a pro lifter if they don’t master this technique.

Weight Belt

A belt should be worn when things get tough.
They should not really be work for warm up sets or exercises like bench press.  It should also be worn a hole looser than as tight as it can possibly go.  As a rule of thumb, you should be able to get a hand between yourself and the belt.  It should be worn in a position where it does not get in the way and is comfortable for the movement that you are performing.

There are many different belts available, some are designed for crossfit, some are for powerlifting and some are aimed more towards bodybuilding.  With so many available and of varying quality, it can be difficult to select the correct one for your needs. PowertliftingBelts.org provides useful information, advice and powerlifting belt reviews.

Many people get the idea of “If I wear a belt, how many kilos will it add to my lift?”.  I doesn’t work just like that wear wearing a belt to the gym magically makes you lift more.  As mentioned earlier, there is a whole breathing process to maximise the usefulness of a lifting belt. Since the pressure created by the belt, aids with the strengthening of the trunk, it will improve lifts over time.  Your strength will improve quicker and more efficiently than it would without a belt.

This also has an effect on the abdominals as they contract when wearing a belt and thus strengthened quicker than when a belt is not used.  The abs also make for a stronger back as well as all round stronger lifts.  For this reason, some people wear a belt whenever possible.  But the thicker and stronger powerlifting belts are not suitable to be worn throughout an entire workout so in an idea world, we would all have a selection of belts for different times and different exercises.


How to keep yourself away from bad carbs

Good Carbs for Fuel

We hear a lot about cutting carbohydrates—or even eliminating them altogether—as a strategy for losing weight. The fact of the matter is that carbs are the body’s main source of energy. If you’re going to keep rockin’ and rollin’ on that New Year’s resolution to get fit, you need carbs for fuel. But—and this is a big BUT—there are good carbs and there are bad carbs.

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs

Think of your body like an automobile. You can fill your car tank with top tier gasoline for high performance; or you can choose lower quality gasoline, which can put a damper on the engine’s performance. When it comes to fueling up your body, there are good carbs and there are bad carbs.

Good carbs are nutrient-rich foods that provide your body with plenty of energy because they are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Whole grains, fruit, vegetables, beans and low-fat dairy are all great sources of good carbohydrates.

Bad carbs are like empty calories. They lack fiber. As a result, our bodies digest them quickly and our blood sugars spike. Steer clear of these nutrient-poor refined grains, which include baked goods, sweetened beverages and candy.


Strategies to Steer Clear of Bad Carbs

  1. Eliminate temptation. Go through your fridge, freezer, cabinets, and cupboards and throw away any tempting empty calorie foods. Your will power is not strong enough to hold you back in a weak moment. Your hunger cravings will get the better of you almost every time.
  2. Stock up on good carbs. If you don’t purchase the bad carbs, they won’t be lying around calling out your name when you are home late after a long day and so exhausted that you devour the first thing in sight. Then, you will have to devour the good stuff because that’s what’s there!
  3. Treat yourself and enjoy life! Bad carbs now and then won’t hurt you. Save the empty calories for when you eat out on special occasions, and only order a small enough portion or share that cheesecake with someone so that you won’t have leftovers to take home.
  4. Exercise or partake in outdoor recreational activities. Exercise and being fit helps reduce empty calorie cravings. So, get your exercise, or go for a hike, swim, bike ride, play softball,  or meet up for some family time at the park. Plus you’ll feel great!

Good Carbs for Fat Loss

Rather than follow a low-fat diet to lose fat and get fit, the new Dietary Guidelines recommend replacing saturated and trans fat with poly- and mono-unsaturated fat sources. Feeding your body good carbs—more whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy—is sure to help you reach your fitness and fat loss goals!