Will Salsa dancing help me lose weight?

Stop the press! Dancing is good for you.

Just ask Beto Perez.


Beto took dancing to the ultimate degree when he stormed onto the fitness scene with Zumba which won the hearts and minds of millions of people worldwide with its blend of dancing and fitness.

One of the ingredients in the Zumba formula, was the use of many different styles of dancing that made up the class format. One of the dances Beto taught us was Salsa.

Discovering salsa dancing

However, before I had joined the masses and attended a Zumba training day, I had a little experience of Salsa dance and exercise.

As a busy fitness instructor I was always on the lookout for new ways to exercise that I could bring to my classes. This was in the days before Zumba and Fitsteps, and my choreography was usually based in grapevines and box steps. A chance night out found myself and some friends attending a Salsa dancing club in Glasgow city centre.

Observing the dance

Watching the dancers move to the music, I realised I had found what was missing from my fitness sessions. The incredible dancers moved like lightning and I was mesmerized by the turns and moves they performed.

What struck me most, was that unlike other dances, the Salsa dancers seemed quite at home dancing on their own.

Of course, many used partners, but it was great to see that Salsa could be done solo.

Breaking down the dance

It wasn’t long before I did a little more research into Salsa and discovered the breakdown of the steps.

Although there are many styles of Salsa, it appeared that the steps are performed using 3 beats and a rest.

1,2,3, rest on 4, 1,2,3, rest on 4.

When you listen to the music used for Salsa, you can hear the way the dance is performed. Using steps that rock you forward, back and sideways, combined with turns and runs forward and back, the Salsa suddenly becomes an exciting fitness workout.

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Developing the dance into a fitness workout

Being in the lucky position of having my own small studio, I worked towards launching a Salsa-Fit class.

Using Latin rhythms and moves I had studied from the dance, I formulated a mid range workout that my members loved to attend.We would break the class into sections, learning a little bit at a time, before running the whole thing together in an impressive dance like routine, that we would loop for the duration of the session.

Once we had come to grips with the routine, we would then study the elements of the dance itself, and that’s where the sexy Salsa really came into it’s own.

Understanding the movements

Salsa dancing is noted for its use of hip, shoulders and arm movements.

The hips roll and gyrate as the steps are performed, the arms, shoulders and hands rotate, almost inviting others to dance with you. This constant revolving of the hips really works the abdominals and obliques, so we would encourage our clients to really control their posture and core as they worked out.

By keeping the tummy muscles tight while dancing, the Salsa style proved a winner for those attending that wished to work their waists and tums.

What type of workout is salsa?

Of course the high energy moves and steps provide the cardio work out, and the hips, glutes and hamstrings receive a wonderful workout, maintaining the poise and rhythm of the dance.

So for years we had an amazing unique Salsa workout, and when Zumba hit the fitness market, it was obvious to us that Salsa would be one of the main components of their workout too.

Salsa is also a component of Fitsteps, the dance workout developed by professional dancers Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe of Strictly Come Dancing. 

So will Salsa dancing help me lose weight?

I think it’s safe to say that Salsa dancing is a great way of staying in shape.

If you have any doubts, can I suggest you take an evening to find a Salsa club near you. If you are in or near any town or city you shouldn’t find it hard to locate one. You will be amazed at the incredible fitness levels these dancers have.

As the music builds and the dancers take to the floor, you can find yourself transported to a dazzling world of rhythm and music, that is captivating and exciting. Under the cover of the smokey lighting and the candlelit tables, the dancers are hypnotic, pulsing with the music, enthralling onlookers with their dazzling steps.

Why should I try Salsa?

Salsa dancing has everything your group exercise cardio session has. Great music, great steps, explosive movements and a required core stability stance.

It’s no wonder there are so many sexy salsa dancers out there, they have made their passion for dance their fitness requirement. If you thought staying in shape was all about burpees and mountain climbers, think again.

I know what I would rather be doing.

Read more from WatchFit Expert Louie Fecou

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