Fun Workout Idea: West African Dance Makes You Sweat (and Smile)

By Alix Turoff

Friday evening at around 6:30 is just about the time that us girls at The Beauty Bean get our grooves on in preparation for the weekend ahead. This usually involves playing some tone-setting tunes, wrapping up our emails for the weekend and shutting down our computers (for the night, anyway). This week, however, was slightly different.  On this Friday evening, rather than packing up and heading home (or to a healthy happy hour!), we made our way over to the Joan Weill Center for Dance to try out a West African dance class as part of the Ailey Extension.

Plan your own healthy happy hour! Click here to see how!

The Ailey Extension, a manifestation of famed choreographer Alvin Ailey’s American Dance Theater consists of drop-in dance and fitness classes created for regular people (like those of us at The Beauty Bean!) to enjoy. (Professional dance experience not required.) With weekend and evening classes classes ranging from beginner to intermediate level, The Ailey Extention program makes it really convenient to fit in a class after work and really fun to exercise! Plus, classes at the Ailey Extension can be paid for on a class-by-class basis, so you can walk in whenever you want to sweat without having to feel guilty for paying for a pricey gym membership when you’re too tight on time to workout.

Our class of choice for the night was West African Dance. We walked into the studio clad in red, yellow and green and kicked off our shoes to ready ourselves for what was to come. With the live drum accompaniment, the colorful sarongs that many in the class were wearing and the traditional African pants that our instructor was sporting, the traditions of West Africa seemed to take over the room. The class began with a warm-up set to a vibrant drum-beat after which our instructor broke down the steps so that even the most uncoordinated among us could follow. After we learned our routine, we were given dance partners with whom we danced our way across the room. With smiles plastered to our faces from start to finish, we took in the unbelievable energy.

A healthy, easy and quick summer recipe!

As we danced, the fact that we were actually working out never once crossed our minds. It wasn’t until after the 90-minute class that we realized how hard we had worked! We will be back next Friday for some more West African fun, but will, without a doubt, also be trying everything from ballet to hip-hop. Looking for a workout that can be done with your significant other? Bring ‘em back for a salsa class! For more information, see aileyextension.com.

Muscles sore after? Try this!

Photography Credit: alvinailey.org

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