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City Scene
Columbus City Scene

Commit To Be Fit
Shall We Dance?
Add a new step to your fitness routine
By: Andrea Cambern

You’ve tried spinning, skipped step class and walked away from weight training.

If you’re looking for a new way to get fit in the New Year, dancing might be just what the doctor ordered. Regardless of your style, be it salsa, tango or twist, the music can be a great motivator.

“It’s one of the best full-body workouts you can do, and its fun,” says Igor Iskhakov, owner of the Columbus DanceCentre.

He and wife Svetlana not only teach, but compete on the world stage and are a testament to the benefits of dance. In their Gahanna and Powell studios they lead by example. Classes range from ballroom to ballet and jazz to hip-hop. Every day, the young and young-at-heart gather for an hour of exercise that’s disguised as fun.

And fun might be the biggest motivator of all. In fact, it now fits into the equation of a successful exercise program, according to Michael Hyek, Ph.D., of the McConnell Heart Health Center.

“When we talk about exercise from an exercise physiologist view, we use the FITT principle: Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type. Now we’ve added an E to the acronym, which stands for environment. How much fun someone is having, the atmosphere, music, all play a significant role in whether or not someone sticks to an exercise program.”

The physical benefits of dance are evident. Be it ballroom or ballet, a dancer can burn 200 to 500 calories per hour. That adds up to a great aerobic workout.

“Any movement that uses large muscle groups like your thighs is also great for your heart and lungs,” says Hyek.

Add music to the mix and studies show you work harder and longer, and it seems so much easier.

“Something remarkable happens when you turn on music. It’s natural to move, you really can’t help yourself.” says Iskhakov.

And let’s face it, dancing is a lot more exciting than riding a stationary bike for 60 minutes!

Iskhakov agrees. “When I dance I don’t have to put a TV set in front of me to keep me excited. It’s interesting, mind stimulating, artsy. There’s nothing boring about it.”

And Hyek says that may be the key. He says if someone is stimulated by an activity, they are much more likely to stick with it.

The health benefits are huge for body and mind. Not only does dance tone muscles, burn calories and keep joints limber, experts say memorizing and learning new steps keeps the brain busy. And then there are the endorphins, the body’s natural mood boosters, which start to flow when we exercise.

Iskhakov says he has seen the difference dance makes, physically and mentally. Many clients come in stressed out at the end of a long work week and leave renewed.

“They are relieved, relaxed, they can cope with the stressors of life without going to a psychologist!”

But the biggest benefit of all, according to Iskhakov, may be the social interaction, something that he says is often missing from the traditional workout. “You have two people touching, in harmony, trying to create something that is beautiful.”

Sign me up.

For information of the Columbus DanceCentre visit

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