Really, It IS Exercise
Posted by terrepruitt on April 21, 2015
Recently I was visiting with a friend and she was sharing with me her experience in an exercise class that she had attended a few days earlier. She was sharing that the things they were doing in the class did not qualify as exercise. She was saying that shimmying and doing the hand-around-your-head-move was not exercise. She said she didn’t want to do that type of stuff in an exercise class. I think she forgot who she was talking to. I mean, she was talking to her friend who she was looking at to support her in the fact that neither the shimmy nor the hand-around-your-head-move was exercise. But I think she forgot what I do for a job. I made a comment about how if she didn’t want to use all her muscles, I could see why shimmying would not be something to do. But she said she DID want to use all of her muscles. I did not take the opportunity to elaborate on how the shimmy is a great exercise and uses — not all, but many, muscles. It really was HER moment to share so I just listened. It was obvious she didn’t want to use her muscles THAT WAY. It was not my time to defend my craft or dance as an exercise. It did make me laugh though. It also reminded me why some people don’t like Nia. Some people don’t want to dance as exercise. Some people do not feel that moving to music is exercise. There are many people who think that the only way to get exercise is to do something the same way — to move in the same way, to move in a linear way — over and over again. Some people have very specific ideas about what they want to do as exercise. And that is fine, I am not going to try to get them to a Nia class because they probably wouldn’t be able to participate enough to get a good workout. But I do get my knickers in a twist when people say it is not exercise.
I think it is more accurate to say, “It is not movement that I like or that I consider exercise.” But to say it is not exercise. Not fair. But, again, very much a common way of thinking. I have posted about exercise as dance before. I even mentioned how I liked Dancing with the Stars (even thought I don’t watch it) because I think it helped some people realize that you CAN get a good workout in while dancing. If nothing else, moving around for an hour is great cardio — if you are moving enough to get your heart rate up.
Some dance exercise classes use jumping movements to get the heart rate up. Some — like Nia use big movements, fast movements, low movements, high movements, all over body movements. As, I have said before, it is all there for the participant to use, it is up to each individual to do as much as they want.
Many people don’t care for the shimmying but it really is a great movement that uses upper body muscles. I have seen many of my regular Nia students go from not being able to do it — for whatever reason — to embracing it. I think I have mentioned before that there is one song in one of our routines where I like to keep them at doing the shimmy for a bit. I usually ask, “Are you feeling it?” I just like for people to experience that the shimmy can be an move that can qualify as “an exercise”. Their answer – by the way is usually a laugh with a “OHH yeah!”
Some people move differently once they understand that the shimmy is not shaking what is on the front, but moving from the back. I have a post on that, Shimmy From The Back.
I think there are a lot of dancers at there that would say dance is exercise. However if you don’t like to dance I understand you might not feel that way. But, if you ever want to see what I mean about the shimmy or Nia as a good workout, look for a class near you. There are classes all over the world. There are several in San Jose, California . . . . I know, because I teach ’em.
What do you consider exercise? Have you ever TRIED dance-as-exercise?