Movement

Meagan Kong’s 8 Reasons to Dance

When you share a stage or split the silver screen with the hottest celebs, it takes a lot of confidence. That’s something Meagan Kong knows quite a bit about. As a professional dancer, model, and athlete, Kong says that having a strong mindset is just as important to her success as being physically fit.

“Mentality can make or break a performance – If I let my mind wander and think about the lights, camera, smog, or audience, I lose focus,” she says, “When I truly zero in on the steps and how it feels in my body, I am moving in my own world.” And though you may never dance on stage with world-renowned artists (though, #dreambig!), you can definitely apply some of Meagan’s lessons learned as a pro dancer to your own fitness routine.

Here are 8 reasons to add dancing to your 2017 to-do list.

Meagan Kong's 8 Reasons to Dance

You’ll score a “dancer’s body”

“It carves your muscles,” assures Meagan. (Just check out her rockin’ bod for proof!) “You work your muscles, but stretch them equally as much – This creates the long and lean muscle dancers are known for,” she explains.

It can give you all the feels

“An open floor is an open door to tell a story with your body,” says Meagan. And whether that open floor is at a barre studio, Lincoln Center, or your own living room dancing can be an emotional experience. I love dance because it makes me feel something – like happy, sad, confused, or sexy,” says Meagan.

Meagan Kong's 8 Reasons to Dance

It can boost your confidence – in and out of the studio

Whether you’re on a stage or in a class, you’re “performing” in a sense. And that can me a nightmare for many people. But overcome your fear of being judged (trust us, that’s all in your head!) and you’ll be rewarded with a new sense of confidence next time you dance – and in other areas of your life as well – from work to relationships and beyond. “Dance and barre teach you to stand proud and walk with intention in and out of the studio,” assures Meagan.

Meagan Kong's 8 Reasons to Dance

You’ll become a better athlete

Body awareness is the key to excelling in any discipline (from running to cycling to lifting weights), per Meagan. And dance gives you awareness of each and every muscle group, she adds. “You learn to isolate and listen to cues from your instructor which gives you the control and open ears you need to excel in other workouts.” For example, Meagan says, when she spins dance has taught her to really understand that the cue “butt back” means to move her neutral pelvis over the saddle. “This engages my abdominal wall and glutes,” she explains.

You’ll burn fat

You can think of dance routines like intense intervals, Meagan says. “Whether you’re in class or on a job, you put all of your energy on the dance floor for the short combination you’re performing,” she says. This will get your heart rate up and help you torch calories and fat.

You’ll ward off injury

Since dance class is often a low impact activity, it protects your joints, says Meagan. That means it’s great cross-training for runners and other athletes.

A few tips for your first – or 50th! – dance class

Meagan Kong's 8 Reasons to Dance

  1. Listen.

“The movement in barre class is often minute,” says Meagan. “A tuck of the pelvis or lift of a heel can change everything.”

  1. Ask!

“If you’re not applying correct form, you can easily walk out of a class feeling nothing,” warns Meagan. “Don’t be afraid to ask an instructor for clarification if you’re not understanding an exercise.”

  1. Gear Up

In most classes, you’ll be barefoot or you’ll wear socks with grippy material on the bottom. Yoga pants work well since they won’t get in your way. On top you can wear a tank top or tee – whatever you’re most comfortable in. Get some dance inspiration here.