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What Are Hip-Hop Aerobics?

By C. Mitchell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Hip-hop aerobics is a form of exercise that blends dance moves with strengthening exercises. Most of the time, this sort of aerobics is designed to feel more like dancing than exercising. It is usually paired with fast-tempo hip-hop music, and incorporates many of the moves common to the dance style. The goal is not to learn routines or put on performances, however. People participate in hip-hop aerobics in order to get a good cardiovascular workout, and to tone muscles in the arms, legs, and abdominal region.

Most of the moves in hip-hop aerobics derive directly from the dance style of the same name. Hip-hop is a decidedly American dance style that draws from elements of African, Latin American, and Asian traditional dance. Steps are typically very fast, and the full body is involved in creating the central dance expression. This can involve anything from gyrations to headstands and arm waves.

In aerobics, the main goal is usually to capitalize on the body-moving moves of hip-hop and repeat them in sequence such that muscles get fatigued and built up. Instructors essentially convert dance moves into exercise routines such that participants feel like they are in a dance class or night club rather than at the gym. The addition of hip-hop music usually adds to the ambiance.

Hip-hop music is very fast paced, and often incorporates elements of rap recitations. Dance and exercise moves usually try to follow the music’s tempo with clapping hands, pulsing elbows, and jumps. Songs often flow seamlessly into each other, creating a more or less continuous workout experience. Most hip-hop aerobics sessions are designed to last for about an hour, but much of this is up to the individual instructor.

This style of aerobics is generally taught in class format and is commonly offered through health clubs or gyms. A trained instructor selects music and builds a program of core exercises. Participants usually form rows facing the instructor, much as they would in a dance class. They mimic the instructor’s moves and follow his or her commands.

Not all gyms offer hip-hop aerobics, as classes are usually offered only in proportion to local demand. Classes are not the only way to learn the moves or benefit from the exercise, however. A great many hip-hop aerobics instructions are available on video or in digital format for downloading online. Dance videos can be watched and followed in living rooms, rec rooms, or any open space. Videos are often good options for beginners, as instructions can be replayed, paused, and slowed down as many times as is necessary to master the steps.

Participants in hip-hop aerobics usually wear what they would for any aerobic exercise: comfortable, loose-fitting clothing in which it is easy to move. Depending on the venue, participants may be invited to dress in traditional hip-hop attire, which is normally characterized by baggy clothes, branded sportswear jackets, and baseball caps or head bandannas. Gold jewelry is traditionally popular as well, but is normally discouraged in an athletic setting as it can make rapid movements more challenging, and can sometimes even be hazardous to other participants.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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