• Kacie D.

Shoes are the most important accessory to any fitness class. You may think any old tennis shoe will work for dance fitness but you'd be wrong. Let me tell you why having the appropriate shoes for class is the best thing you can do for your workout and subsequently, your body.

When I went to my first dance fitness class I wore my super cheap tennis shoes I typically wore for walking, chores, and outside activities. Being my first dance fitness class, I wasn't so much focused on my shoes as I was with just trying to keep up. But after a few classes I started to realize I needed some better ones. After all, I'd had these ASICS for over three years. I decided to go all out and get some really nice (and expensive) Nike running shoes. I loved those shoes. They fit snug, super comfortable, and had some legit arch support.

Fast forward 6 months later and I'm now a dance fitness instructor teaching 3-5 classes a week; rocking my dope, bright purple Nikes. Though, every. single. class I taught I felt so incredibly sore after. The obvious thought is damn, that was a good workout! But something wasn't right. It would hurt to walk for days and my knees ached uncontrollably. I'm not talking the good kind of sore when your muscles feel stretched and energized. I'm talking grinding, cracking, and aching sore. I would literally wobble from my car to my front door. This concerned me enough I finally went to the doctor. Bless his heart, he informed me I'm simply overweight, new to working out, and am exercising so frequently that my knees were just over-stressed and to maybe take it easy on the classes. Well thanks but, no thanks.

I pressed on determined to condition my knees but the pain just never went away. One day at home while I was practicing routines I noticed my knees didn't hurt, like at all. 'How is this possible!?' I thought. The only difference was that I wasn't wearing shoes; I was practicing with socks in my living room on the carpet. A light bulb went off and I started scouring the internet doing research. Could it be? Were my shoes the issue the entire time? Yes.

In conducting my research I came across two major issues with my shoes. First was the arch support. While arch support is great for running and walking, it is not great for dance fitness. Why? Having arch support in a shoe typically means that part of your insole is firm to keep the shape of your arch. Dance fitness uses a lot of jumping, bouncing, and marching moves. Meaning, when you come down hard and flat on your arch, it needs room to flex. With this type of shoe and the repetitive moves used in dance fitness, it really means jamming your arch into a hard surface point over and over for 60 mins. As I'm sure you've concluded, this can cause a lot of pain.

Any pain in the arch of your foot can run all the way up your body to your spine, causing lower back pain. Pain in your lower back affects the lower extremity nerve system that runs down to your knees which, you guessed it, causes knee pain. That's a whole lot of pain for some arch support. Who knew.

The second issue with my shoes was the grip of the sole. Walking and running shoes typically have a more aggressive grip on the sole used to help on difficult terrain. Dance fitness is usually done on a wood, tile, or concrete floor; no rough terrain here! Why does this matter? Dance fitness typically uses spins, leg twists, and slides, and if you have traditional walking or running shoes, your feet are gripping the floor preventing you from moving fluidly. Just think if you're trying to twist your leg outward and your foot grips to the floor, what you've now done is remain stationary and thrown your knee out of place which causes intense pain, I promise you. Dance fitness requires shoes with a somewhat flat, smooth sole and preferably a pivot point for twisting.

A couple other things to note when picking out shoes: although memory foam and super squishy insoles sound nice in theory, they really aren't ideal. You'll want to be able to utilize your toes and feel the ground underneath you, just like a skateboarder would need to feel their deck. Using your toes, instead of the soles, to grip the ground will help with balance. Which is simply impossible to do when your insole feels like a thick, fluffy cloud. But be careful, you also don't want a super light and flimsy shoe. This will end up stressing your bones and arches over time. An important point but not necessarily crucial is having lightweight and breathable material like mesh. I don't know about you but I get sweaty as hell while working out and the more airflow I can get anywhere, the better.

In short: my most vague and basic recommendation for a dance fitness shoe is a cross trainer with minimal grip and a pivot point.

My personal favorite is the RYKA Women's Influence Cross Training Shoe. I've personally owned this shoe three separate times. They are extremely durable. They've each lasted me a year using them 3-5 times per week. And honestly I could have gone longer but I like buying new things. They are just the right amount of support and feeling. They come with toe grips and are designed for you to feel the ground beneath you. As well as a pivot point for twists. They also come with lightweight mesh lining. Depending on the color you choose, you can get these between $45-85. It seems pricey but is well worth the money. These shoes changed my workouts.

I'm a huge fan of RYKA. Most, if not all of their cross training shoes are perfect for dance fitness. If you have weak ankles and are looking for a little more support in that area, I suggest the RYKA Women's Tenacity Cross Trainer. With all the floor work (burpees, mountain climbers, etc.) we've been doing lately, these are going to be my next purchase.

If you're just starting out and not fully committed enough for the price but still want a good shoe, I suggest scouring the internet for deals on RYKA's. You can find great deals if you're willing to sacrifice color and design. I once found a bright neon yellow pair for $29. Or you could try another brand like, Barerun Walking Shoes or Alexandria Collection High Top Hip Hop Dance Sneakers. But I really do recommend spending the money and getting a good pair of RYKA's. It truly is a good investment since a shoe can really make or break your workout and the wrong choice in shoe could end up causing you pain.

Next time in class focus on your areas of excessive soreness. Ask yourself if this is from a great workout or your body overworking itself to compensate for your choice in footwear.

Have you found a cheap pair of dance fitness shoes you love? Post them with a link in the comments below for the community!

  • Kacie D.

We've all heard of it but what is dance fitness exactly? Is it a choreographed dance class? Is it a fitness class? Do I have to be good at dancing? Do I have to be in shape in order to participate? I get tons of questions around the subject of dance fitness every day from people wanting to know what it is, if it is right for them, and why they should choose dance fitness over other forms of workout classes. In this post I'm going to explain exactly what dance fitness is, how Work The Floor classes are structured and why you should incorporate them into your weekly routine.

There are many forms of dancing from ballroom to ballet to hip hop to line dancing to salsa and the list is ever growing. Dance has always been a part of human culture, rituals and celebrations. Today, most dancing is about recreation and self-expression.

Various studies throughout the years have shown that dancing has serious health benefits like burning fat and boosting your metabolism. (Burning an extra 300 calories a day can help you lose 1/2 to 1 pound a week) Dancing can decrease blood pressure and cholesterol, improve cardiovascular health, strengthen weight-bearing bones, help prevent or slow bone loss related to osteoporosis, lower the risks of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, and promote increased lung capacity. Dancing can even help sharpen your intellectual and mental abilities, reducing the risk of cognitive impairments such as dementia. Dancing can help enhance memory, alertness, awareness, focus, and concentration. All of these amazing benefits come from dancing naturally, whether that's at home in your room or at the club with friends.

Dance fitness has been around since the 50's but really hit it big in the 70's and 80's with Jazzercise shaping the culture. Zumba followed suit shortly after with a fresh take on dance fitness by pairing routines with Latin inspired moves and music. Both Jazzercise and Zumba focused primarily on the cardio aspect of fitness. Nowadays you can find all sorts of dance fitness classes that do more than just cardio. Take for example, Barre or pole dancing. These classes focus less on cardio and more on strength and muscle training. And with full body workouts on the rise, even Jazzercise and Zumba have started implementing these ideals into their routines. No matter the type of dance fitness class, they are all typically structured around easy to follow choreography so anyone can join in the fun. In other words, you shouldn't have to study routines before you hit the dance floor and in most cases, you won't need prior dancing experience. I will take a moment to express however, the quality and ease of dance fitness routines really depends on the instructor and the format they're teaching. You'll need to try a few different instructors to find one that fits your personality and is easy to follow.

Work The Floor Fitness specifically combines cardio and calisthenics to ensure you're not only getting a great cardio session but some strength training as well. Work The Floor uses easy choreography taken straight from popular artists' music videos and combines it with leg work, squats, burpees, planks and arms to guarantee all the muscles in your body are getting an effective workout. Sessions will always start out with a warm up or two. These routines are very minimal impact with slow and repetitive choreography. Warm ups are designed to get you in the right mindset, introduce the music, and wake up your arms and legs in preparation for some harder routines to follow. Like with any work out, it is important to stretch and warm up your muscles before you hit them with deep and powerful moves. Following the warms ups will be a harder routine introducing calisthenics such as squats and burpees or perhaps even faster beats to up your heart rate. Then, just when you think you're going to die and can no longer breathe, Work The Floor brings in a slower or medium intensity routine to help you recoup without bringing your heart rate back down to a full resting level. The remainder of the class alternates between hard and medium routines mimicking heart rate interval training. This keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time. The last routine of class is a cool down and similar to a warm up - bringing your heart rate back down to a normal level and allowing you to "shake off" the intense workout you just endured. Finally the class ends with a stretch.

The great thing about dance fitness is that it is truly for ALL fitness levels. The reality is you can make any move as hard or as easy as you'd like. Remember to go at your own pace; you know your body better than anyone else. It's not crucial that you emulate the same intensity as the instructor for the class to be effective. If you're really out of shape, make your side steps smaller, turn squats into bounces or simply march in place. If you're on the opposite side of the fitness spectrum and need more out of your workout, go deep with your squats, make arm movements big and exaggerated, keep your cores tight and engaged at all times, and get those knees to your chest when doing leg work. Regardless of how much you amplify the moves, you are still guaranteed to sweat and burn tons of calories, the choice of intensity is really up to you.

While technically dance fitness can be for everyone and all fitness levels, I believe dance fitness is a great choice for the average woman. (or man!) Someone who wants to lose some weight but mostly just wants to be active and get off the couch a couple times a week. Someone who enjoys music and likes to dance around the house while cleaning. But I think dance fitness is the very best for those who don't stick with a work out regimen because it becomes dull, monotonous, and boring. While I can't speak on behalf of ALL dance fitness classes, I can say no two Work The Floor classes are alike. Being bored in our class is not an option. We have 130+ different routines, working different areas of the body, constantly in rotation. Each class has a unique playlist to keep your mind and body guessing because the last thing anyone wants is to plateau. Not only are you getting a great heart-pumping workout, dance fitness classes give you something to look forward to at the end of a long day. Just ask any dance fitness regular, class becomes a bit of a happy hour. In that moment you let the stress of the day shake off. You become confident and untamed and free to lose your inhibitions. Whether you can dance or not, I've never seen someone mad or upset while dancing. Have you?

Dance fitness classes are by far the easiest workout routine to stick to and given the flexibility of intensity, it's the easiest class to cater to everyone's individual fitness needs at the same time. So ask yourself this, do you find it hard to stick with working out because it's boring? Do you enjoy being happy and healthy with minimal effort? Do you enjoy making friends and feeling supported? If so, dance fitness is totally for you. See you in class.

With the QC Pride Parade right around the corner, I felt it was important to share some proper etiquette, explanations and rules for our straight allies to recognize.

First and foremost, I'd like everyone to understand that the decision for Work The Floor Fitness to be a part of the Pride parade was not based on marketing. This decision was not a campaign to get more participants in class. I identify as bisexual therefore this is very much my community, my tribe, my people.

Everyone should understand what Pride festivals actually stand for. This is not a show, this is not a spectacle, this is very much a protest against hate and discrimination. Pride started as a riot in New York City. Police would frequently raid gay bars, roughly hauling away innocent people. A particular raid on June 28th, 1969 turned into a riot, followed by days of protest and violent clashes with law enforcement, known as the Stonewall riots.

We still struggle to find safe spaces in our communities free from hate and retribution. Pride festivals and parades protest this discrimination and act as a safe space for people of the LGBTQ community to come and fully be who they are without judgement. While Pride parades are fun and colorful, it is important to be educated on what it stands for.

While I identify as part of this community, I understand that the majority of Work The Floor participants identify as straight and should therefore understand what their presence at Pride represents. If you are straight and do not support the LGBTQ community, stay at home. And I mean FULLY support. It is one thing to not be hateful towards someone's identity but being a straight ally means you are someone who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, LGBTQ social movements, and challenges homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. If this does not describe you, Pride festivals really aren't for you.

Okay so now that we're all on the same page about who we are and what we represent at a Pride festival, it's time to talk etiquette. This is NOT the time to be inquisitive. Do not ask questions like "are you gay, bi or trans?" Do not ask "who is the man in your relationship?" Do not ask "have you had surgery?" I'd honestly hope you would never ask these types of questions but there are appropriate times and places to ask your gay friends about their lives and Pride is not one of them. To sum this up, just mind your business.

Furthermore, do not stereotype. It is not the time to show how "with it" you are. Do not assume all gay men watch Rupaul's Drag Race. Do not assume all drag queens are transgender. Do not assume bisexuals are going through "a phase." And don't assume all gay women love kissing straight girls when they're drunk. No one, gay or straight, fits into one box. We are all multi-cultural people with a multitude of personalities, values, interests and hobbies. To stereotype someone into what you believe is gay culture based on what you've been fed through mass media is ignorant.

Next, this is not about you. As I touched on before, this is not a show for your amusement. People are not dressed up in drag or however they choose to express their true-self for you to gawk at. Pride is not the place for you to get drunk and have a fun time with your girlfriends. It's definitely not the place for a straight birthday or bachelorette party. And Pride is not the time or place for you to be the center of attention. Step that ass back and show your support just by being present and listening. Also, don't openly be a tourist and take tons of photos of other people. If you'd like to take a photo of someone or with someone, it is always appropriate to ask first. Again, Pride is not for your entertainment.

Lastly, understand that Pride is a positive stance against discrimination and violence against the LGBTQ community. Pride is used to promote self-affirmation, dignity, equality rights, increase our visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance. I urge you to be respectful and take this as an opportunity to spread impartiality and acceptance. Please use your privilege as a straight (and probably white) person to educate others on peace, love, and equality not only during Pride but continuously going forward. If you want to party today, you need to do the work everyday.

To end on a happier note, don't be overly scared of offending anyone. If you are a genuinely good person and care about the rights of others, there's nothing to worry about, just be yourself and leave all the questions and assumptions at home. Pride is also about coming together and making new friends so I encourage you to get out there and meet new people!!

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© 2019 By Kacie Davis