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What is Latin Cardio?

Micki Elizabeth
Micki Elizabeth

Latin cardio is a workout program based on a wide variety of dances that originated in Latin America, such as the salsa, mambo, and cha-cha, among others. Latin cardio classes are taught all over the world in gyms and dance studios, and digital video discs (DVDs) demonstrating the workout are available from many online retailers. A Latin cardio class typically lasts no more than an hour, yet it often combines strength training with bursts of high intensity cardiovascular exercises that may allow one to burn a relatively large number of calories or kilojoules in just one workout. Many who have integrated Latin dance routines into their weekly schedules praise the fun of this activity, which makes the perceived output easier than exercises that are considered more monotonous.

Latin cardio requires almost continuous movement, which tends to keep the heart rate up. A good cardio routine will also utilize a variety of intensities, because a fluctuating, yet high, heart rate often burns more fat than exercise performed at a constant heart rate. Latin cardio, with its unique blend of dances and moves, will challenge a body to never become complacent at one level of exertion. Another positive benefit of this exercise may be an increased metabolism.

Latin cardio borrows moves from several different dances.
Latin cardio borrows moves from several different dances.

Many Latin dances target the core, or the abdominal muscles. Latin choreography often calls for isolated hip movement such as gyrations or swivels; the oblique muscles, the outermost lateral midsection muscles, can be used extensively in these moves. Fast footwork is also common to Latin cardio, which not only boosts the heart rate, but utilizes large groups of muscles in the legs. Arms are sometimes extended for minutes at a time, working the shoulders and other upper arm muscles simply by supporting their own weight. Dance often strengthens muscles while also making them appear leaner, giving one a sleeker, more toned look rather than a bulky appearance.

Those who enjoy Latin cardio classes often claim that routine’s changing choreography is simple enough for beginners to follow. Some also believe it is the reason that the class feels more entertaining, making exercise one might normally dread go by quickly. Latin cardio can be done with friends at gyms and studios where an instructor is present to help with tricky moves. On the other hand, people with busy schedules or those who prefer to exercise alone can purchase a wide variety of Latin cardio DVDs for use in the home.

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    • Latin cardio borrows moves from several different dances.
      By: Samo Trebizan
      Latin cardio borrows moves from several different dances.