By Erica Bryant @gracefulowl
“Exercise gives you endorphins—endorphins make people happy and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands… they just don’t.”
Movie reference aside, it is true. Endorphins are released during long continuous workouts (when the level of intensity is between moderate and high and breathing is difficult). I have been chasing this ever elusive “runner’s high” for years. Quite honestly, exercise bores me. Really, it does not matter how many playlists I create, after about fifteen minutes on the treadmill I feel like a rat in a cage! Every time I turn on the TV some expert is reminding me take part in 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least 3 times each week in order to prevent chronic health problems, boost confidence, and improve/maintain physical appearance. But with advertisements for everything from zumba, pilates, yoga, and gym memberships,finding the best workout for me has been a bit overwhelming.
Nevertheless, I endure and a few weeks ago my friend invites me to her Soca aerobics dance class. While I am not a fitness expert I do know that dancing is great for the heart and boosts muscle tone. Still, I was worried…I mean, organized dancing is not the same as getting my groove on at the club. Also, I must admit while I am confident enough to wear sequined shorts in the daytime, as a plus size brown beauty I was a bit nervous about embarrassing myself around more fit women. But, intimidation to the side, I went and here is what I learned:
- Soca is a style of Caribbean music originating in Trinidad and Tobago.
- Soca music has a lively and up beat tempo (you stay “turnt up”).
- It is fun and suitable for all ages and can be adapted to all physical levels.
- You do not have to be familiar with Caribbean Dance and Music to enjoy Soca Aerobics.
- It is a great introduction to Caribbean Culture (I was asked to take part in Carnival my first session).
- It is a wonderful way to meet new people and socialize.
- You engage every part of your body while burning calories and toning/strengthening muscles (I started sweating within the first five minutes).
- You release stress/tension and gain more energy
- It is FUN!
As amazing as it is, Soca is just one of many excellent exercise classes to choose from. The question is how do I decide which one is right for me? According to Hive Health Media (www.hivehealthmedia.com) here are a few tips on finding the right fit:
- Think practically and make room in your daily schedule. That is, do not choose a class more than a thirty-minute drive away. Or, if you want to exercise after work then give yourself time to get there, change clothes, and have a snack.
- Determine your personal fitness goal and find a class that will help you succeed. That means, if you are looking to lose weight you should find a class that is fast paste with plenty of cardio. Likewise, if you are looking to tone your body choose a conditioning class.
- Consider your physical condition. If you have not exercised in a while or lead a particularly inactive lifestyle speak with your doctor before starting any type of new program and do not be afraid to start slow.
- Go for what you find enjoyable and will keep you motivated from week to week. You may also want to take a risk and try something outside of your comfort zone.
- Bring a friend along to give you an extra boost of confidence. But, do not be afraid to socialize and meet new people.
Good luck and no matter your choice have fun! I’m thinking of trying belly dancing next.