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Yes, You Can Do Aerobic Dance!
Page 3: Staying in Step

Now you're at the point where you're in the class or have the video in the VCR. Where do you go from here?

(Article continued below.)

  • Follow the instructor as if you're looking at a mirror. Don't think about right and left too much - that can get confusing. Just imitate/ mirror what the instructor is doing to the best of your ability. Actually, drop the terms "left" and "right" completely. Think about your "outside" or "inside" leg, your "forward" or "back" foot. Your lead (and we mean "leading," not "leaden") foot is the first one to move. It's more important to see what's going on than to name it, really. If your instructor is saying something like, "V-step, starting on your right leg," just watch and imitate what she's doing. Don't think about it too much. Thinking gets in the way of doing. The less you think, the better off you will be.
  • The aerobic dance patterns are usually in counts of 32 or 64, but the only person who has to worry about this is the instructor. You just need to count to four and count to eight. All the basic steps fall into a four or eight count, then you do a different step for the next four or eight counts. Eventually it all adds up to 32 and everyone is happy. A good instructor will make sure the class has the first four or eight-count step down before going on to the next part. A bad instructor will rush you through it (either that, or you've stepped into an advanced class). If you happen to get an instructor that's rushing you through the routine or isn't helpful, remember - it's not your fault! Find a different instructor (or a different tape) and try again.
  • Once the class has a basic step down, the instructor will usually try to change it a little, add something fancy like a special kick or a different way of stepping or - yikes! - a turn. If you are an absolute beginner at aerobics, this may throw you at first. Don't worry - just keep doing the basic step the way you were originally taught. Or if you do try the new way and you get lost, go back to the initial step. Always, if you get confused go back to the basic step until you get your bearings.
  • Instructors will often add arm moves to your foot moves. Consider those optional for now. Arm moves are good because they add intensity and help get your heart rate up, especially if your arms remain at or above heart level. But if you're starting off, they can be really confounding. Try them only when you feel really confident on your feet. If you are doing both the arm and leg moves and feel like you're running out of steam, then drop the arms. This will almost always give you a breather. Going back to the familiar, basic steps can also help you catch your breath.
  • Here's the real beauty of working out to aerobic videos - you can pause the tape and rewind it as many times as you want until you get a step down. The first couple of times, accept the fact that you may not get too much of a workout because you are learning the moves (part of the enjoyment should come from learning, really). But after that, you should be fine. One caveat - be careful of doing some moves on carpet, especially anything where you're leaping around, turning or sliding your feet on the ground. And make sure you've cleared some room - it's no fun to step-kick your coffee table.
  • No matter where you're doing aerobics, keep your stomach pulled in as much as possible. This protects your back.
  • If you're taking a class at a gym, it will often end with a bit of strength training. Do the moves mindfully. With many aerobic classes, you're only using light weights, or body resistance, so you must focus on the muscles being worked, or you won't get much of a workout. And if you can't do those last couple of crunches, don't sweat it. It's not a competition.
  • Lastly, if you get one of those cheerleading instructors that want you to yell and scream and you aren't the yelling, screaming type - then don't! Seriously, vocal participation is not necessary. Let everyone else look silly.

Coming up are a few classic moves.

Next page >> Your First Steps >> Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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