As one of the most popular dance styles to have hit pop culture, hip hop is an easy choice for those who want to learn dancing for fitness. The wide variety of moves makes it surprisingly effective and versatile, and the beat-heavy music is easy to get caught in. The reviews aren’t bad, either—many have claimed to get in shape by doing hip hop dance and little to nothing else. From the first hip hop fitness videos to hit the market in the late 90s, the trend has stirred up dozens of follow-ups and spinoffs, each one promising fun, fast results.
Of course, as with anything that goes mainstream, not all hip hop videos are effective—a good number of them are just cashing in on the fad. One of the biggest myths is that it works wonders for your abs. It’s not entirely untrue—any exercise that makes you sweat and drives up your heart rate will burn fat if you stay at it long enough. What’s misleading is the claim that you can burn fat in your midsection by doing a certain dance move (usually akin to a crunch, but on your feet). Because you’re standing up as you do it, the effort tends to come largely from your feet, not your stomach muscles.
That being said, hip hop fitness training is effective in other ways. For instance, it’s a great source of cardio, an essential aspect of every fitness plan. Fast, upbeat dancing helps you reach your target more easily than regular dance or beginner aerobics. The trick is to challenge yourself; keep it up instead of stopping as soon as you start getting tired, which is what a lot of people do. If you’re new to exercise, start small—follow the dance for ten to fifteen minutes at a time, then add five minutes to your routine every week. As soon as a certain routine becomes too easy for you, do something different or try doing it for longer.
Your choice of music can greatly affect how well hip hop training can work for you. This is especially true if you tend to lose focus or get bored easily. Most videos come with catchy music that can keep you going for hours, but if this doesn’t work for you, try muting the video and putting your own music on. Or if you already know the moves, do it without the video and try tailoring the workout to suit your particular problem areas.