Spring has sprung, which means we’re one step closer to summer, Chicas! YAY! The thought of outdoor fun brings a big sonrisa to my face! But, I must admit, the thought of wearing a bathing suit at a pool party makes me cringe. Yikes!
No better time than the present to connect the mind, soul, spirit and… body. I’m talking about carving out time from our super busy schedules to break a sweat, get grooving – and losing those stubborn extra pounds. (I have four different sizes in my closet, so I know all about weight fluctuation!) We have to trim our waistlines, amigas, and be healthy! Especially those of us who love strawberry daiquiris, indulge in feijoada and quesadillas, and can down a whole pint of dulce de leche ice cream. ¡Ay, Dios mío!
But going to the gym feels like a million little deaths, and it zaps my desire to work out. Personally, I can’t stand walking on a treadmill. It just bores me to pieces. Even with an awesome playlist, if I say so myself (i.e. Justin Timberlake, Bjork, Los Amigos Invisibles, Dave Matthews, Madonna, Biggie Smalls, Bruno Mars, Soda Stereo, Michael Jackson, Rihanna, Donna Summer, U2, Coldplay, Café Tacvba, Jay-Z, etc.) Still, it doesn’t cut it when you’re completely uninspired. Ugh.
The good news is that there are so many great ways to lose weight and have a whole heap of fun! Like Zumba, for example. This is my absolute favorite go-to, and I was lucky enough to find $5 classes at a community center in Miami Beach. The hour is well spent with trained instructor Fernando Garcia (who taught Michelle Obama how to Zumba three years ago, by the way!) This energy-boosting dance fitness session mixes low and high-intensity moves while incorporating fabulous World music: Bollywood, Samba, Salsa, Cumbia, Mambo and Merengue. When I leave class, I am dripping in sweat, my hair is a ratty mess and my mood is at an all-time high! A half hour Zumba class can burn 339 calories, and there’s a reason why 12 million people across 125 countries are crazy for Zumba!
Another calorie-burning dance craze is hip-hop classes. The music is pumping, you’ve got your super cute kicks on and you’re ready to bust a move! Talk about fun! Speaking of Michelle Obama, remember when she did The Dougie and broke it down? Whether you want to learn how to pop and lock, the Robo Cop, Roger Rabbit, Krumping, Breakdance or Boogaloo, these classes encourage you to vibe with the music, learn a funky dance routine and score some cool points next time you hit the club.
Full disclosure: I grew up in NYC in the late 80s and 90s, and I can still rock old school moves. Think: The Wop, The Butt, The Smurf, Humpty Dance, The Robot, The Prep, The Ed Lover, Jump On It, Cabbage Patch, Electric Slide, The Fila, The Reebok, Big Daddy Kane, Tootsie Roll and The Snake. Seriously, there were SO many moves that ruled back in the day although I never quite mastered The Running Man…
Consejito: Chicas, weight loss is 80% diet, so eat a balanced diet. Please don’t eliminate a whole food group, either. Eat vegetables, fruit, nuts, lean proteins, whole grains and legumes. And – replace those energy and sports drinks (empty calories) with good old-fashioned water.
Are you a Sambista at heart? (You know you are!) Learning how to samba will not only get your heart rate up and help you burn fat, but it’ll also keep those feet moving as you fall head over heels with the infectious Brazilian percussion and rhythm. Take a basic Samba dance class for beginners and feel the music, study the key footwork, loosen your arms and shoulders, sway those hips like you were born to do… and have a fabulous time! (And, let me know when you learn that Mata Formiga move!)
Calling all mis Caribeñas! Whether you’re a single Chica or you’re coupled-up, taking dynamic salsa lessons is just what the doctor ordered. Talk about getting fit while having fun! Salsa dancing burns about 396 calories an hour. Throw on those beautiful heels and get ready to learn timing to the beats, changing the pace, turning with a partner, front and back steps, shoulder catches, cross body lead and so much more. Before you know it, you’ll be the salsera outshining everyone on the dance floor!
But the dancing doesn’t stop there ‘cause it takes two to tango! The tango is such an elegant, seductive and sophisticated dance form. It’s like watching live art. In no time, you’ll be kicking your leg up, twisting and turning your torso. Tango offers low impact cardio that tones your muscles, improves your posture and helps you stay in shape, too. (The last time I was in Buenos Aires, I saw several tango performances that took my breath away!)
As Shakira said, hips don’t lie! And, belly dancing is soooooo sexy! You can’t go wrong when you’re wiggling your hips and sculpting your abs to enchanting music. This dance targets the core – which is such a problem area for most of us. (Raising my hand here!) It’s all about the hips here: shimmy, camels, create circles, belly roll and figure eights. Chicas, do it for an hour and you’ll dance off 250-300 calories!
You already know that all these dynamic forms of dancing target the core area, so you can just imagine what pole dancing does. It’s definitely an empowering killer workout, and quite liberating too. Whew! By twisting and turning – you boost your self-confidence and exercise your core, upper-body and legs all at once. Also, you improve your coordination, flexibility, balance and energy level. (Not to mention how much you’ll love swinging your body around in the air and defeating gravity.) OMG, how cool is that?!
Consejito: Avoid injury while exercising by paying very close attention to how you move. Stretch before and after physical activity, listen to your body, ease into it and take it slow. Don’t get crazy Chicas because next thing you know, you’ll pull a muscle and be in serious pain. Easy does it.
Switching gears, another total, full body workout is kickboxing. Talk about cardio torching, strength building, blasting fat and toning your physique! You will condition the muscles in your shoulders, arms, back, abs, thighs and butt. Watch 270-405 calories melt away in an hour as you jab, cross punch, jump, upper-cut, side kick, left hook, squat, duck and knee your way through this intense exercise. BAM! You’re such a bad ass!
Ahhh…swimming, such a lovely, relaxing and refreshing form of fitness. It’s gentle on the body but packs a punch too (so to speak!) Dive right in! Swimming not only engages the upper and lower body muscles, but it also keeps your lungs healthy. (My husband – the Pisces – swears by it!) While it’s soothing and calming, floating strengthens the core. Your arms and legs will be in motion as you do laps. Work the back with those backstrokes. And, all the while, burn 750 or more calories during an hour of swimming.
I love power walking, but prefer to walk outdoors. Inhaling fresh air, taking in the surroundings and clearing my mind is the perfect way to end a hectic day. (If you’re a runner, even more fantastic!) Walking burns fat, lifts your mood, increases your heart rate, gives you energy, and strengthens your muscles and bones. (If it’s raining out, I’ll take the stairs in my building since I live on the 9th floor.) Remember to bring great music along, practice a good breathing technique, tighten your butt, draw in your abs to your spine and keep your posture straight.
Consejito: Wear supportive, athletic shoes that promote body alignment. The footwear should match the activity, know what I mean? Whether they’re running shoes or training shoes, make sure they have arch and ankle support.
There’s a plethora of fitness options that will raise your physical activity levels while providing a whole lot of fun – from Capoeira, spinning class, trampolining, jump rope and rollerblading to ballet barre, hiking, hula hooping, bike riding (another favorite of mine!) and rock climbing. Do all of it! Have a blast, get an adrenaline rush, sweat your ass off, release endorphins and lose that weight.
Chicas, we can do this so let’s get to it! Tell me, what’s your favorite form of exercise to lose weight and have a good time? I’d love to hear from you!
Mamá decía, “El dolor es temporal, la gloria es eterna.”