Georgina from Fitcetera was privileged to attend the showcase of FitSteps, the new dance fitness class created by Strictly Come Dancing professional dancers Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe, and six time world champion swimmer and Strictly contestant Mark Foster. Held on Wednesday 27th February at Everyone Active Woodside, Watford, the showcase included two trial classes, and Georgina was amongst the first to try it out.
Find out how she got on, and what she thought of the class right here!
When I first heard about FitSteps I was really excited. Having watched Strictly Come Dancing since it’s launch in 2004 I have loved watching celebrities learning how to dance (some more successfully than others!), seeing the professional group dances every week, lusting over the amazing outfits and of course cringing at the moments where Bruce can’t quite see his Autocue. But mostly, I have found it a real motivation for getting fit and eating right. After all, let’s be honest about it, most of us would kill to have a body like Natalie or Ian! With FitSteps we could be well on our way…
FitSteps is a dance fitness class combining actual Ballroom and Latin dance steps, with proven fitness techniques, to create a full body workout that anyone can do. “It’s not overly energetic to the point where you’re out of breath – it’s more of a slow burner. We’re teaching technique” says Natalie, and Ian agrees, “Dancing uses every part of your body… you use muscles you wouldn’t usually use.” and “You could take what you learn from FitSteps straight through to a Ballroom class and you’d already know the steps.”
Sounds great, right?
|Ian and Natalie talking to the Mayor of Watford, Dorothy
Thornhill, about the new class
I was so excited to take part in the class. After having some one on one time with Ian and Natalie, hearing about what inspired them to work with Mark Foster to create FitSteps, I realised just how passionate they are about getting the nation fit through dancing, and it really got me pumped to get going!
However, for those of you that know me, you will know that I am not the most coordinated of people; I tend to bump into things and trip over things, and when I do turn my hand to dancing it’s more of a wine-fuelled shimmy than a graceful and elegant Waltz. But, fear not – Natalie assured me that even if I didn’t quite get the steps I would still get my burn on!
The Warm Up
As we arrived in the sports hall at the Woodside Everyone Active centre in Watford, the atmosphere was already set with disco lights and good music. Around 60 of us spread out in the space available, nervous shuffles and excited chattering all around. Ian and Natalie introduced the class, explaining that we would be taught the basic steps of a variety of Ballroom and Latin dances, and that there would be a lower intensity to follow, and for those that wanted it, a higher intensity.
The warm up consisted of a mixture of the basic steps from the Samba, Cha Cha, Charleston and Jive, with some hip movement from the Rumba, and Ballroom arm movements from the Waltz to ensure we were fully warmed up. The movements were simple to follow, with clear instructions and demonstration from Ian and Natalie, and it was clear that everyone was able to work at their own comfort levels, with taps offered as an alternative to kicks and flicks, for example.
|Ian and Natalie teaching us some Cha Cha steps|
Having got our blood pumping and learned some of the basic moves, it was time to go on to the main session.
Ready? Rhythm? Dance!
Each dance was accompanied by it’s own song, with a mixture of popular tracks by artists such as Rihanna, and a few more traditional pieces, like for the Tango. First up we settled into some Cha Cha, which really got my hips moving. The footwork was varied, with the basic rhythm, as well as slide moves and forward and back steps. There were also options to include arm movements as well, which I chose to follow wanting a full workout.
The Samba was next, which I’ve always heard has a difficult rhythm to follow, but Ian and Natalie made it look and feel more easy; in part due to clever song choice, but also by giving a very clear demo at the front of the group. Samba is known as the party dance, and with a hall full of people, fun music and bounce steps with Samba turns thrown in it really did keep up it’s reputation.
|Argentinian style Tango flicks – a personal favourite!|
Other dances included the Tango, which merged traditional Tango with Argentinian hints, the Charleston with it’s swivelling forward and back steps and a fun jump turn which really got everyone smiling, the Jive where everyone got a’kickin’ and a’flickin’ and finally the Waltz which really does slow you down and get you concentrating on your posture and keeping that contraction of your muscles.
|Having a ball during the Charleston|
The unique style and movement that each dance contains really does make for a killer work out, without feeling like you’re out of puff or struggling. With the kicks and flicks of the Jive your core muscles are working to keep you stable, the arm movements of the Tango would bring fantastic definition and leanness to your shoulders, triceps and biceps, and the lunging motion of the Waltz really works your legs all over with your hamstrings, quads and glutes all contracting. And to top it off, if you did choose to follow the higher intensity you will be sure to get a good cardiovascular workout, complete with a significant calorie burn – all whilst having fun!
|The kicks and flicks of the Jive|
The Cool Down
Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and so it was time for the cool down. We were brought back down to a slower movement, still using dance moves, to lower our heart rate, and then shown some stretches to help develop flexibility as well as easing off the muscles we had used in the dances. It was only then that I started to realise just how hard I had been working, with sweat trickling down my forehead as I bent forward to stretch my hamstrings! As a runner and regular resistance trainer, I like to think I am fairly fit, but Ian and Natalie were completely right about Ballroom dance working your body in a totally different way… I wonder if I’ll ache tomorrow?!
I absolutely loved my time taking part in FitSteps; it was fun, challenging and stimulating all at the same time. My favourite dances out of all that we learned were actually the Samba and the Waltz, which surprised me as I have always favoured the Quickstep and the Argentine Tango when watching the show. I found a new love for each of the dances simply by trying out the steps and feeling how they affected my body.
Judging by Ian and Natalie’s skills in communicating the steps, and their experience in teaching people to dance on Strictly Come Dancing, I truly believe that the Instructor Training Programme will be a massive success. I might even consider spending the next few months working on my coordination just so I can spend a day learning to be a FitSteps coach! It must be as fun to teach as it is to take part, just look at this lovely photo of a smiley Ian and Natalie if you have any doubts:
|Ian and Natalie getting lost in the fun of teaching|
If you want to get fit, have fun, tone your body and learn new skills, I really do urge you to keep an eye out for FitSteps as it launches across the UK, I expect this to take off with, well… with a kick and a flick!
And yes, I did ache the next day!
Find out More
Keep up to date with all the latest FitSteps gossip by liking the FitSteps Facebook page or following @FitSteps on Twitter. You can also sign up to be kept informed about the FitSteps Coach training programme by visiting their website www.fitsteps.co.uk.
To find out when the first FitSteps classes will be launched, keep checking Everyone Active’s website: www.everyoneactive.com and check out their Twitter page @EveryoneActive.
You can also follow @IanWaite, @RealNatalieLowe and @MarkFosterSwim who will be sure to keep Tweeting about FitSteps news!
And most importantly, Keeeeeeep Dancing!