What Is Dance Cardio? A Cheat Sheet

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Dance cardio is having a big fitness moment, and we predict it’s going to be a long one. Here's everything you need to know to get on the beat.

DMF NYC dance cardio
All dance cardio classes allow you flood your body with dance-floor endorphins while burning calories. (Photo: Lindi Duesenberg teaching DMF NYC.)


Dance cardio is one of the hottest workouts on the fitness scene right now. Kicked-off by Tracy Anderson, who married dance choreography with muscle-toning moves at her members-only studios in New York and Los Angeles, the tank-top–drenching workout has now taken off into every corner of the fitness world.

It’s won a following of slim-and-trim celebs, like Anne Hathaway, Kelly Ripa, and Sarah Jessica Parker, whose lean, toned physiques testify to their regular sweatfests. Think of it as Zumba’s chicer, more urban little sister.

Why is it so popular? Or, The je ne sais quoi of dance cardio
Although dance cardio is having moment, we predict it’s going to be a long one, because you get both a workout plus an artistic release. “Classes are about the experience in the room. The feeling, the emotion, the joy of dance, no matter what the steps are,” says Lisa Wheeler, senior creative manager of group fitness at Equinox.

Simone de la Rue of BBS at her West Chelsea studio

It's also boredom-beater. Following your charismatic teacher’s cues and working to learn the steps is great for those who can’t shut off their minds. The amazing music makes time fly by. And, oh, and you’ll feel super hot. (Trust us.)

Where can you do it?
While there are nearly a dozen dance cardio divas that we’ve sweated with in New York, classes are cropping up at all the major gyms as well. Equinox now has 43 different dance cardio classes nationwide, says Wheeler. “Dance has always been popular, but we’re seeing mega attendance in classes lately.” And Crunch offers 20 and is constantly rolling out more. “Hip Hop and funk continue to rule,” says Donna Cyrus, SVP of Programming.

Even smaller boutique studios are adding dance cardio to the mix. Megaformer workout SLT offers Dance Cardio with KGBody (aka dancer-trainer Katherine Greiner). And Bari Studio, which started in Tribeca, is a growing presence with dance cardio available in three Manhattan locations and the Hamptons.

Sadie K teaching 305 Fitness on Pier 25 this summer
Sadie Kurzban teaching 305 Fitness on Pier 25 this summer

Which style of dance cardio is right for you?
Tracy Anderson pioneered the fitness genre, and many of the expanding scene’s most popular instructors worked alongside her before creating their own style and studio.

Some emphasize choreography and break for sculpting (Anna Kaiser, Simone de la Rue, and DMF NYC), while others teach shorter choreography (Katherine Greiner at SLT), have a barre influence (Mahri Relin and Alexandra Perez at Bari), or want you to just let go and just have fun (Doonya, DMF and 305 Fitness).

Expect a handful of classes to use free weights, resistance bands, sliders, or trampolines, too. (Props are typically mentioned in the class description.) All allow you flood your body with dance-floor endorphins while burning calories.

So you think you can’t dance?
Beginners should look for a class with short pieces of choreography or with a very verbal instructor. If you can't stay on the beat, just move. Lindi Duesenberg, founder of DMF, advises you to just revert to a regular dance move if you get lost.

It’s about being sweaty and happy, not perfect.

For more information, check our guide to New York City's cardio dance divas.

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