Thinking of attending a FitSteps FAB class but not sure if it’s for you? Here’s what you can expect at one of my FitSteps FAB classes in Hampshire.
I was first introduced to the FitSteps dance fitness concept way back in 2015 when I was part of the Comic Relief Danceathon at Wembley arena and was taught a few FitSteps routines by the Strictly stars themselves, Natalie Lowe and Ian Waite. Back then, the concept was fairly new, having only been launched in 2013, but with the popularity of Strictly Come Dancing, FitSteps was always bound to be a hit with dancers and non-dancers alike.
Natalie and Ian, along with world champion swimmer Mark Foster, devised the FitSteps concept as a follow-along dance fitness class, creating a programme where participants could learn the basic steps of all their favourite Strictly dances without needing a partner, or any dance experience, and keep fit while having fun.
FitSteps FAB is an extension of the original format and FAB stands for ‘For All Bodies’. The FitSteps FAB dance fitness programme combines the graceful movements of ballroom with high energy but low impact latin moves, at a slightly lower intensity than an original FitSteps class, making it ideal for all levels of fitness and all ages.
FitSteps FAB is not a dance lesson and you won’t be taught really intricate footwork or complex routines. It’s a simple follow-along session where the emphasis is on fitness, fun and flair! As with all my classes, don’t worry about getting all the steps straight away, you are not being judged by anyone – Craig, Bruno and the rest of the Strictly panel can save their sevens for the stars, you are all tens in my classes, just keep moving and if you want to freestyle your own routine – do it and own it! The routines will become much more natural to you over time, I promise!
So, onto the format of a FitSteps FAB class. We always begin with a joint mobility and pulse raising warm up. This consists of basic aerobic steps we will be using and progressing within the later routines. The warm up incorporates dynamic stretching rather than static stretching, to warm up the muscles and elevate the heart rate ready for the main workout.
We then move on to our dance routines. There is no break down of the routines, this is a follow-along class to ensure our bodies keep moving throughout. Participants are reminded to have a bottle of water nearby and remember to drink whenever they need to. If they find any of the steps too tricky, or the intensity too high, participants can take it down to a march, a step touch, or even a gentle sway and join back in when they are ready.
The routines have swing and sway roots, including dances such as the Foxtrot, Swing Jive, Cha Sway and Charleston. Each routine uses only a few different steps, so you’ll soon pick them up. We use intermittent training, with a high energy routine such as Disco followed by a slower paced Waltz or Bosa Nova.
Usually within a FitSteps class we would dance in lines, rotating each line forwards after each track, to ensure all participants move around the room rather than dance in one spot throughout. However, of course this is not possible at the moment with Covid-19 around and we have to distance ourselves from each other and stay in our own spaces. Each participant has at least a 3x3m space in which to dance, ensuring the 2m distancing rule is maintained even when using directional movements. I am currently running my classes with very limited numbers, much less than the current maximum capacity, to ensure everyone feels safe.
After the dances, we will have a cool down track, to gradually bring everyone’s heart rate back down and to stretch out the muscles we’ve just used.
What to wear for a FitSteps FAB class
Wear something you are comfortable moving in. Leggings or joggers and a t-shirt are ideal, plus an extra layer for colder days, especially as we have to keep the fire exits open at the moment to allow adequate ventilation in the hall. Trainers are ideal, particularly ones designed with dancing in mind, but any comfortable and supportive trainers will be fine, although I’d advise against trainers specifically designed for running as they can often have too much grip on the soles, making them more difficult to dance in.
What are the benefits of FitSteps FAB?
The benefits of FitSteps FAB are endless! It’s a great low-impact cardio workout and especially good for toning the muscles in the legs with all those sliding and swaying movements! It’s also a really effective mood lifter, allowing some social interaction (albeit 3 metres apart from each other) when many of us have been stuck at home for months in lockdown. As well as improving your aerobic fitness, FitSteps can help with flexibility, coordination, stability and balance, with reduced risk of falls, everyday injuries, stiffness, aches and pains as we get older.
Come along to a FitSteps FAB class in Hampshire
FitSteps FAB classes in Colden Common run on Mondays, 9:10am – 9:55am, at Colden Common Community Centre. All levels are very welcome to join this class. Booking in advance is essential and there is currently a very limited number of participants per session, to allow for safe distancing. Please book your space here.
Photo: Natalie and Ian at Comic Relief Danceathon 2015 © ‘en Joy dance fitness