What is FitSteps?
FitSteps is the incredible new dance-fitness program created by dancer’s Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe, along with Olympic gold medalist swimmer, Mark Foster. Well known for their careers as professional Latin and ballroom dancers on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, Ian and Natalie have decades of dance experience, and, combined with Mark’s wealth of fitness knowledge and expertise, they have created the FitSteps program. Fusing proven fitness techniques and real dance steps from everyone’s favourite Latin and ballroom dances, FitSteps is a fantastic way to burn calories, get fit and learn to dance at the same time! Each routine is delivered using a combination of visual and vocal cueing (meaning the instructor will not only be dancing the steps in front of you, but talking you through everything too), and our instructors incorporate multiple levels of intensity and complexity, meaning they can bring things down for those that need to take it a little easier, whilst at the same time giving people who want to work harder the opportunity to do so.
Not at all. Whilst we hold true to using original steps and techniques from the dances, it is all done without a partner. That means nobody is going to stand on your toes (unless you’re getting really close and personal with the person next to you!), everybody is doing the same footwork and the same time and you can engage your muscles even more than if you were in a dance lesson. Without a partner to rest on and hold you up, you are responsible for maintain your posture and position of your body, particularly your arms, meaning everything is going to get a great workout.
You just mentioned technique, that means it’s going to be difficult right?
Whilst FitSteps is dance fitness, it isn’t a dance class, so technique is an added bonus we use to really nail the fitness elements. And because it isn’t a dance class, that means nobody is expecting you to walk away from a session with perfect dance technique either. Throughout each dance, your instructor will be talking to you all the time, not only to tell you what steps you are doing next, but also walking you through the technique of the dances, where to place your arms, what count to rise on to your toes, how to hold your posture, etc. Each dance has its own style and flair, and so it’s own unique techniques as well as some common basics. As you gain more experience in the dances, you will find your technique will improve as well, and the better your technique becomes, the more you’ll get your body working!
For example, let’s talk about the Waltz. A big part of the waltz, as any Strictly fan can tell you, is the graceful rise and fall through the feet. In your first classes, you’ll probably get in a few jerky up and downs, because your mind will be on getting used to the steps themselves. As you get more confident, you’ll learn to smooth those movements, giving you a graceful lilt through the beats of the music. With time you will be able to control the rise and fall movements through your ankles and really engage your calf muscles (a muscle set that is often easy to ignore during your own workouts). Trust us, once you nail this particular technique, you’re calves will tell you!
What do I need to wear for FitSteps then? Is it sparkly ball gowns and special dance shoes?
Whilst you are more than welcome to come sequined to the eyeballs, we actually would recommend something a bit more confortable. As for any workout, you’ll want comfortable clothing that allows you total freedom of movement. Layers are always a good idea, especially through the colder months, so you can strip down as you get warm throughout the class. As for footwear, it is a fitness program at its core, so again we recommend comfortable training shoes that will support your foot and absorb some of the impact in the higher energy dances like Jive. Try to make sure there isn’t too much grip on the sole of your shoes, as you will want to minimize the resistance and allow movement along the floor at times.
This all sounds like quite a lot to take in during a class!
Being totally honest, getting through up to 11 different dances in an hour’s class can be a lot to take in, and very daunting for some people, no matter how friendly and helpful the instructor is. However, we have a few things in place that can help you if you are new to the program, or for the perfectionist who really wants to get the steps and technique spot on.
The easiest thing you can do, to help you with odd steps and bits of technique, is to arrive a little early to the class, or hang back afterwards and talk to your instructor. Ask them questions about the steps and technique and they will be more than happy to break things down a little for you.
Feel like you need more than a few steps breaking down? Try out our FitSteps Basics class. In this 30 minute session the instructor will take you through the bare bones of one dance, breaking down each of the basics steps, showing you how to add on some the more common variations used in the class and how to begin to incorporate the technique of the dance into those steps. At the end, the instructor will lead you through a routine of that style so you get chance to try out everything you’ve learned to music. Check out our schedule to see when our FitSteps Basics classes are. You can check out our weekly blog or get in touch with us to find out which dance styles to expect in the classes that are coming up.