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Street dance for fitness

Getting fit through street dancing

Street dancing is an informal and often improvised style of dance that allows participants to escape the confines of dance studios and work out to the beat of the streets. Street dancing has a number of styles ranging from breakdance and popping through to krump.

Introduction to street dancing

Street dancing is a broad umbrella term that describes a range of funk and hip-hop dance styles that have grown from the USA since the 1970s. Popular forms of street dance include break-dance, popping, locking and house dance. Street dancing offers a great workout for the body, with squats, turns and jumps stretching a variety of muscles. Although it is traditionally more popular amongst American dancers, there is a growing street movement in Europe and classes and competitions are becoming increasingly widespread.

Improvisation lies at the core of street dancing, with participants allowing rhythmic music to shape the movement of their bodies. However, street dancing can also contain some aspects of choreography and there are a number of standard moves just waiting to be learnt.

Key fitness benefits of street dancing

Street dancing has many key health and fitness benefits, in addition to those already associated with dance exercise. Benefits include the following:

  • Improving stamina - Street dancing demands a range of energetic bodily movements and can really take it out of you. However, a little effort goes a long way and regular workouts will greatly improve your body’s stamina over time.
  • More flexible hands, feet and joints - As opposed to many traditional dances, street dancing moves may require the participant’s hands to support their body weight, as well as the feet and leg joints. Regular street dancing exercise will strengthen these areas over time and greatly improve their flexibility.
  • Boosting mental self-confidence - Once you master the basics of street dancing, and start to learn some nifty tricks, your mental self-confidence will improve tenfold. Your body will feel healthier and happier, whilst this fun exercise will clear your mind of any lingering cobwebs.
  • Developing concentration and spatial awareness - The often complex routines that street dancing requires may be hard to grasp in the early stages of your training. However, once these skills build up, you will soon find that concentration and spatial awareness come to you more naturally.

Key styles of street dancing

Street dancing is an umbrella term used to describe various nuanced dancing styles. Here are a few of the more popular street dancing types:

  • Popping - Emerging from California in the 70s, popping or body popping refers to a style of dance where muscles are quickly contracted and relaxed in order to create jerks and twitches in the dancer's body. Popping is carried out repeatedly to the beat of a hip-hop or funk track. It works in combination with various moves and stances to create a fluid and apparently effortless effect.
  • Locking - Traditionally a funk dance, locking features quick and distinctive upper body movements, with waving arms and hands combining with more relaxed legs. Locking motions are often over-exaggerated, and structured in time to the beat of the music.
  • Krumping - Krump is an expressive dance, similar to locking, that is set to the rhythms of hip hop music. It is an aggressive exercise that sees dancers ‘battle’ with each other by facing-off in direct competitions. As a result, krump is certainly not a dance for the faint of heart!

What to expect from your first street dancing class

Beginner street dancing teachers generally make this exercise as fun and friendly as possible, to improve dancers’ fitness and co-ordination. General street dancing classes may cover everything from traditional hip-hop choreography through to popping and locking so be prepared to chop and change styles at the drop of a hat.

Key street dancing tips and more information

Although street dancers make this popular exercise look easy, getting to a high skill level requires a lot of time and patience, so don’t give up if you struggle early on. Whilst street dancing is accessible to all, it may be wise to consider your musical preferences and your current physical condition before jumping straight in at the deep-end. Start out with simpler moves and slower rhythms and you’ll soon make steady progress.

Sources of further street dancing information include:

  • Phat Moves, Street Dance Grooves (DVD)
  • Ultimate Street: Pineapple Studios Dance Masterclass (DVD)
  • Step Up and Dance, Level One (DVD)

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