Warm Up With Rhythm

Kick off your next class with a dance-inspired intro.

By June Kahn
Mar 25, 2019

Dancing is a great workout that delivers as many smiles as it does full-body benefits. To share those benefits with participants, however, you don’t need to teach a whole dance class. A dance-inspired warmup will help patrons prepare for specific movements while setting a perfect tone for class.

In general, a good warmup includes

  • rhythmic and dynamic limbering actions that mimic the day’s program;
  • movement through all three planes of motion to heat the upper body, lower body and core;
  • simple-to-follow steps that transition to more complex steps, so that you can “read” students’ ability levels and select appropriate modifications; and
  • progressions that begin from a neutral foundation, starting with foot patterns, then adding arm work, for more intensity and flair.

Try the following fun and effective warmup progressions in your next class.

See also: Why Do Members Love Dance Fitness?

Figure-Eight Hip Mobility

Figure 8 hip mobility movement for dance warmup

This is a great move for the hips and torso.

  • Start with feet hip-width apart, hands on hips.
  • Rock hips right, shifting weight while pushing hips.
  • Circle hips back and around to left, pushing hips L and transferring weight.
  • Circle hips front and around to R, creating figure-eight pattern.
  • Repeat 8x–16x.
  • Progression: Add swirling double arm motion or add rhythmic action by increasing tempo—single hip R, single hip L, then double hip R.
  • Repeat, other direction.

Step-Tap

Step-tap movement for dance warmup

  • Start with feet together.
  • Step R foot to side, tap L foot next to R, repeat L.
  • Add intensity by bending knees to lower center of gravity. Add double arm pump for more jazz flair.
  • Perform 8x–16x on each side, varying intensity by shifting from taller position to squat.

Wide Step-Tap With Ballroom Arms

Wide Step-Tap With Ballroom Arms for dance warmup

  • From wide stance, shift weight R; tap L toe while grounding R leg. Shift weight L, and tap R toe on ground.
  • Repeat, maintaining wide stance.
  • Once that’s mastered, add “ballroom arms” by bending one arm at chest height and other arm to goal-post shape at shoulder height. Sway arms from side to side with rhythm of weight shift. (Arms move to weighted side of body.)
  • Repeat 8x, each side.

Body Slide With Stomp

Body Slide With Stomp for dance warmup

  • Start with feet together. Slowly step out wide, R (2 counts), sliding L leg.
  • Reach arms out diagonally, R arm high, L arm low, toward L leg.
  • Stomp feet close together L, R, crossing arms at chest.
  • Repeat, other side.

Tap Front With Leg Lift

Tap Front With Leg Lift for Dance Warmup

  • Tap R leg over L leg; step R leg back to wide stance and cross L leg over R leg, creating diagonal pattern from side to side.
  • Reach arms in opposition to legs, rotating torso.
  • For more flair and intensity, replace tap with “flick kick” front, lifting front leg at diagonal to torso. Create “swing dance” feeling.
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June Kahn

June Kahn is the 2009 World IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and founder of June KahnÔÇÖs Bodyworks, LLC. She is the director of education for BeamFit, LLC, and is best known for bridging the gap between classical Pilates and the fitness industry. Currently, she is the Life Studio coordinator for Life Time Fitness in Boulder, Colorado, where she manages Pilates and yoga programs. A nationally-recognized program developer, June is the co-author of Morning Cardio Workouts, she has produced several Pilates certificate training programs and she appears in numerous mind-body and fitness DVDs.
Certifications: ACE, ACSM, AFAA

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