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Calorie Count Blog

Dance Your Weight Off

By Mary_RD on Sep 02, 2010 10:00 AM in Dieting & You
Edited By +Rachel Berman

With all this talk about the Season 11 lineup of Dancing with the Stars, my feet are starting to tap a jig and I’m looking for a partner to swing.  Not only is dancing contagious, but it is physically challenging and social too.  To get started with partner dancing, all you need is a sincere interest and a willingness to practice.

A calorie real burner

First, realize that dancing can be a major calorie burner.  It is an athletic event that goes on for hours and that’s not counting the practice sessions.  Slow dances, like the waltz, foxtrot, samba, tango, and cha-cha, burn 163 calories per hour (at 150 pounds), while fast dancing with a partner burns around 300 calories an hour.  Disco, swing, Latin, and square dancing are all fast dances.  And 300 calories is the equivalent of two big glasses of wine or two cans of soda.  Only with dancing, you are not drinking or eating either; instead, you are burning calories for several hours.  And don't forget that fast dancing improves aerobic capacity, builds muscles, strengthens balance, conditions reflexes, and focuses concentration too.  But that is if you dance with the vigor it deserves. 

Get started

How does an adult get started with partner dancing?  Most people start by choosing a dance style and that takes a bit of research.  Partner dancing includes all of the ballroom styles, plus country dancing, line dancing, square dancing, cajun & zydeco, salsa, hustle, two-step, and the list goes on.  Become familiar with the dances and their music and then find the active dancing groups in your community.  Check community classes, athletic centers, dancing schools, bulletin boards, and word-of-mouth to find options.  Attend any dances that piqué your interest and get there early for the free lessons.  The dances are usually friendly events and the crowd will carry you along.

Keep goin'

To quicken your progress, it’s a good idea to take some lessons.   A good teacher insures that you don’t develop bad habits and that you are paired with a variety of partners.  That guarantees meeting new people and when you go to the dances, you'll see your fellow classmates and feel right at home. It also makes sense to practice dancing at home using DVDs at home.  Dance videos abound, and as long as you know the dances and can make it through an entire DVD - 300 more calories gone!  And then there's the fun and frolic of cutting some rug with family and friends.  Spread some that calorie-burning around.

Okay, so they train 5 hours a day...

Just to drive home the point about dancing to burn calories, consider these quotes (gleaned from a variety of lowbrow sources) by some of the many Dancing for the Stars alums who have lost weight:

  • Jenny Garth:  “In three weeks of dancing, I've lost the last 5 pounds.” 
  • Wayne Newton:  “I've lost 3 pant sizes!” 
  • Laurence Taylor: Lost 35 pounds on Nutrisystem and Dancing with the Stars.
  • Kelly Osbourne:  Lost 42 pounds through a healthy, low-carb diet and by competing on Dancing With the Stars.
  • Mel B.: “Before I did Dancing With The Stars I had a lot of baby weight to lose so dancing really helped for sure."
  • Marie Osmond:  Lost 48 pounds, not with Nutrasystem alone. “It was hard to get started losing weight, but doing Dancing with the Stars gave me the motivation. The reward of doing Dancing, besides the fact that I lost weight, was that I realized anything is possible at any age.”
  • Jane Seymour:  “I’ve lost 14-16 pounds. I’m actually about 7 pounds lighter than I was when I was 16 years old and training in ballet! So I don’t think I should lose any more or I’ll evaporate!”

Your thoughts....

Have you lost weight through dancing?  How did you get started?


My husband and I go dancing every Thursday night as our 'date night'.  We LOVE it - especially the fast dances like Hustle and Salsa.  Both of us are in pretty good shape so we can just go and go. 

It took a little coaxing to get him into it, but once I explained that all the good dancers impress all the chics ... he was in :)

I'm a belly dancer. I dance 3 times every week for at least 90 minutes. But I'm dancing all the time. I'm listening to a belly dancing station on Winamp while getting ready and shimmy my way into the bathroom. I think belly dancing is a good alternative to women who don't have a partner, or who have women as partners.

Why do most articles you read anywhere think that you're not single? Sorry, I don't date, so it gets frustrating when all I can read about is what couples do.

Belly dancing is also a great way to get together with just women, without having any men around.

Do I loose weight? No, but weightloss is pretty impossible for me. The others say they have lost weight though. However, do keep in mind that in the first few months, you would be training your body to be able to move muscles you've never moved in your life, no matter what you have done before. So it starts off slowly and hurts really bad. When you get more advanced and you do the more complex combinations, everything becomes faster, then you start burning a lot.

Oh, and veils way a ton after an hour!

My husband and I took classes to learn a choreography for our wedding. So instead of dancing our first dance as a corny high school shuffle, we amazed everyone (we kept it a secret) with a mix of Rumba, dramatic poses and foxtrot on *save the last dance* redone by Michael Bublé! It was great fun, very rewarding, it permitted us to have an activity together while we learnt the choreography, and was very romantic. The downside was, when that was learnt and the wedding over, we THOUGHT we would continue, but my husband got bored of just learning steps to better his ballroom dancing and he quit. Money was also tighter, and with the courses we were taking (Arthur Murray) we just couldnt dish out a full week`s grocery worth of money for a 1hr class and practice a week. Id take up dancing again in a heartbeat if we could find a cheaper alternative! in the meantime I swim and i walk the dog...

I started dancing a few years ago and so far I've taken tap, ballet and jazz.  They are wonderful workouts.  I agree that the vigor or intensity is very improtant.  One year I tapped with the older ladies and even though I enjoyed dancing with them, I didn't feel as if I got much out of the class physically.  Last year I danced with a smaller and younger but still adult class and it was so intence that we started to jokingly call it cardio tap.  The combination of tap ballet and jazz has been a great help in improving my body lines, body control , posture and balance.  I would recomend dancing to anyone. 

Pearl1974 have you thought of going for group lessons and line dances? They're normally much cheaper and you can get a partner to dance with if your hubby is definitely not into it. Another thing that is good if you're a quick learner is socials - you can learn alot just by watching (then practice at home) and you'll also get a good workout. I dance the Latin dances and i honestly will say i learnt most of it by watching. I joined Fred Astaire in the year 2000 but it also got too expensive to go for private lessons so i started going to most their group classes and socials then i'd practice at home and whenever they had exams i went and within no time i reached Silver final level and have entered a couple of local competitions and done pretty well but i enjoy the socials the most - you get to dance with different people so you get a different feel everytime and you get a really good workout.

Sori pearl that was for Vince and all ....

I've taken ballet and tap and one swing class and loved every minute of it. It's great exercise even though my old brain has trouble remembering the choreography.  Starting a tap class next week, in fact. This is all as an adult. Never took any dance classes before.

I go to Zumba class 4 times a week.  It is the most awesome thing in the world and I sweat like crazy!  I have been doing Zumba for a year and have gone down 3 pants sizes and working my way to 4!!  I used to be a couch potato who would complain about needing to work out and had a gym membership that I never used.  Since starting Zumba I have cancelled my gym membership because I get everything I need in one Zumba class, cardio and toning.  Not to mention that I NEVER miss a class!  Zumba has changed my life!

Anybody else notice that the picture for this article is from a Diet Pill ad? I think it's Xentrex or something like that...just sayin'.

I danced my booty off on Saturday. it's a great calorie burner and it's fun too.

Couldn't agree more!!!  We dance every Friday night and a couple nights more for lessons....ballroom, Latin, swing.....last weekend we even won a swing dance-off!  I'm at my goal and dancing certainly helps me maintain!

I would advise dancing to everyone....a great way to exercise and not think of it as such.

Just wanted to comment on dancing....I LOVE DANCING!  I'm so ungraceful, but dancing has helped and it's fun.  I country line dance.  I take lessons once a week and have made friends, lost weight and generally have a great time.  It took a while before I started to feel comfortable daning with all the extra weight I carry, but now I just dance and it feels good.  I even stand in the front row so the beginners and new dancers can watch me and it helps them to learn.  So, I encourage everyone, any age to line dance.  Depending on the dance you can really work up a sweat!

I cannot begin to describe how much I love this article.  I was introduced to swing dancing by a friend three years ago, and before that I hadn't danced a step in my life.  Especially for someone dancing as a follow, if you can count to six, you can swing dance.  It is one of the most amazingly fun activities I know, and really is a work out.  I have been able to track when I am more or less in shape over the past several years simply by how sore or out of breath I am when I dance, and when I do it on a regular basis, it really is a fantastic way to keep the weight off.  This year I am the "follow" of my college swing club and get to teach all the new people how to do it!

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I totally agree with you there, Zumba is a stellar work out!!. I try to go 4 days a week as well.

 Although I have never really struggled with my weight, I do in fact weigh the most I ever have. I'm 24, 5'7 and weigh 140lbs. To the average Joe that is a normal weight but I can't seem to break it. Do you have any advise to me that may help me lose a couple inches off my waist and thighs....I'm getting stretch marks for some reason too, I'm Not overly concerned wondering if that's normal? I've never had a big spike in weight and then lost it. Thanks for reading:)



I've become addicted to Zumba. It's dancing to world music, so everything from the samba to african dancing. I love it, I may look like an idiot doing it right now, but I'm getting the hang of it!

It's great because some songs are focused on abs, others arms, others legs/butt. But the good thing is that you are having so much fun you don't realize you are working out!!

Keep on dancing ladies & gents because this is definitely a way to get and stay fit!

<3 Jenn

there is nothing like dancing in the world.  I have always wanted to be a dancer and it is only recently after going to group fitness classes every day of the week where there are a few zumba classes that I realize how important that is in my life! My daughter is a dancer and a dance instructor and sometimes I go to her ballet class I find that when I dance with my husband at parties which we love to do, I am so much freer and have so much fun now that I feel more active and able to make moves I never thought I could.  I find it hard to follow choreography though, but the more I do it, the better I get at it.

I just found out that Netflix's Watch Instantly has a bunch of those "Cardio Dance" videos and they are so much fun! 40 pounds ago I used to fall down a lot, just because my balance sucked so bad, being so overweight. Regular aerobics has led to better balance, so now I can do the complicated jumping around required for dancing.

Thinking of dancing? Consider Argentine Tango. It’s not only popular in the US, but all over the world. If you travel, it’s perfect; it is as if you belong to a secret club. Just type “Argentine Tango + name of the city” and up will pop calendars with classes and social dances (called Milongas). You don’t have to have a partner, because you will find a friendly community with people of all ages. Check it out on youtube. You will find that this dance is not only good for your body, but it will keep your brain sharp as well!


Thinking of dancing? Consider Argentine Tango. It’s not only popular in the US, but all over the world. If you travel, it’s perfect; it is as if you belong to a secret club. Just type “Argentine Tango + name of the city” and up will pop calendars with classes and social dances (called Milongas). You don’t have to have a partner, because you will find a friendly community with people of all ages. Check it out on youtube. You will find that this dance is not only good for your body, but it will keep your brain sharp as well!


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I LOVE TO DANCE!!  Dancing to me is like a drug .. it makes me feel alive and happy and confident and free!  I always dreamed of being a dancer .. I think that would be my ideal job .. although now at 28 years that is probably not going to happen.  But a girl can still dream ... Smile

I used to take Salsa/Chachacha and Rumba and just loved it.  It really worked my core and I had abs of steel.  Now I work all afternoon shifts and can't find morning classes anywhere nearby.  I know Shakira has commented on how she keeps her abs .. by belly dancing.  Which I imagine would also be very fun!

I'm off to find some morning dance classes!

Yes!!!!!! I agree 100% with the dancing.  I do line dances (Cupid Shuffle, the Jamie Foxx, Electric Slide..... and a few others I have picked up this year).  I started at work on our 15 minute breaks to learn the dances.  And there is also a class at the gym that has these dances.  Well, last night we also do them at a restaurant and lounge for a little over two hours.  Wow!!! I had to go through 6 napkins to get rid of the sweat.  I logged it in on this site and burned approx 600 calories.  And it was fun as well :)

I am 16 and I dance all the time. I started a class at my school for ppl who want to learn dance. So far in weight loss I lost 40 pounds coming in at 120 my perfect weight! It only took me about 6 months, but I am young so it is easier for me and other young ppl. My advice is stay in there its worth the time and action! Trust me in no time you will be working your way down to where you want to be and look great and be fit and pretty, for both men and women. :)

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