Country and western dance for fitness
Getting fit through country and western dancing
Yee-hah! Country and western dancing is a fun and energetic activity that’s traditionally set to American country folk music. Incorporating line and square dancing, country and western grooves will soon have you dancing your way to fitness in no time. So what are you waiting for? Grab your cowboy hat and read our guide on how country and western dance could set you on course for a healthier, more active lifestyle.
An introduction to country and western dancing
Country and western dance is a hugely popular form of expression that evolved during the Twentieth Century. With its origins in American barn dances, swing and even Irish jigging. It has proven a great communal activity, getting people moving at parties, theme nights and country festivals.
Although traditionally, and some would say wrongly, associated with cowboy hat-sporting revelers, moving along to ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ or ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, country and western dance contains a number of key styles and moves, making it more than just an excuse to get merry. With line and square dance inspiring people of all ages (and sizes) across the world, there really has never been a better time to enjoy the numerous health and fitness benefits of country and western dancing.
Key fitness benefits of country and western dancing
Country and western dancing has many key health and fitness benefits, in addition to those already associated with dance exercise. The benefits of country and western dance include the following:
- Improving the body’s core muscles - Country and western dancers are required to carry out a number of energetic moves and steps across the dance floor. As a result, this dance offers a fine way to strengthen the body’s core muscles and reduce abdominal fat in the process.
- Potentially reducing blood pressure - With quick steps and expressive arm movements, country and western dance exercise forces the heart to quicken to push more blood around the body. This can potentially reduce blood pressure over time, energizing muscles more efficiently.
- Building up stamina - Regular country and western classes will gradually build up your stamina, so that your body deals better with the whole concept of exercising. The best thing is that you’ll be having so much fun dancing you won’t even notice your fitness is improving!
- Helping to prevent osteoporosis - Osteoporosis is a disease that can strike the body’s bones by making them more susceptible to fractures and breakage. Thankfully, help could be at hand in the unlikely form of country and western dance, which can strengthen the skeleton and bone structure. The good news is that country and western dance can help build bones of all ages. So it’s less a case of No Country for Old Men and rather a case of more country for old men (and women)!
Key styles of country and western dancing
Country and western dancing can take a number of different forms, with line dancing being the most popular. Here are some of the key country and western dance styles:
- Line dancing - Line dance is hugely popular in the USA and Europe. It is a highly choreographed activity, with groups of people performing repeated sequences of steps, in time to one and other, whilst standing in straight lines. Although a non-contact style of dance, line dancing still offers a great way to meet people and make new friends in the process. Just remember to take along your cowboy hat!
- Square dancing - There’s nothing ‘square’ about this form of country and western dance! It originated from English folk styles, such as Morris dancing, and sees four couples follow intricate steps and sequences around a square, generally to the tune of fiddle and banjo music.
- Western promenade dance - This is a partner dance, with performers dancing side-by-side and holding hands throughout a series of steps and turns which dancers perform identically. The style of accompanying music sets the pace, with modern country or traditional folk songs leading to a brilliant form of exercise.
What to expect from your first country and western dancing class
Country and western dancing isn’t all about high kicks, knee-slapping, and pretending to lasso imaginary cattle. Instead, it contains a number of intricate turns and steps that may appear quite complex to the complete dance novice. As a result, don’t go along to a country and western class expecting to immediately become king of the prairies. Your first lesson will be a fun and sociable experience but it’s vital you listen carefully to your instructor’s advice. Otherwise, you might stray out of line and end up a high plains drifter...
Key country and western dancing tips and more information
Country and western dancing really is great for your health. However, to really enjoy this entertaining form of exercise, it’s vital you take it seriously in the early days, as you slowly master the basic moves. It isn’t all about who has the frilliest cowboy hat, you know. Instead, country dancing does require a large degree of concentration and effort, so don’t assume you’ll simply pick things up right away. Keep your feet on the ground and you’ll soon be a dancing to the wild beat of the west. Giddy up and wagons roll!
Sources of further country and western dancing information include:
- Country and Western Dance Sampler (DVD)
- Hot Country Dance for Couples (DVD)
- Christy Lane’s Complete Book of Line Dancing (book)