Dance your way to fitness

Want to be healthy and fit for the coming winter as well as strut your stuff with the best of them on Strictly? Ever wanted to master the Cha Cha, Quick Step, Jive, Salsa, Charleston, Viennese Waltz? Then you need Fitsteps.

Fitsteps is a dance concept that was the brainchild of Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe of Strictly Come Dancing fame with Olympic swimmer Mark Foster.

Ian appeared on Strictly until 2010 and now hosts Strictly It Takes Two, while Natalie won Australia’s Dancing with the Stars, before working on Strictly for seven years, leaving only in 2016. Mark appeared on the sixth series of Strictly.

Fitsteps takes the best of dance movement, combines it with the aerodynamic of a workout, and creates something that could, just possibly, become the next big craze.

They also train suitable candidates to become Fitsteps instructors. Ringsend native Shauna Tilley took the training and now gives classes in Ringsend and Irishtown.

So what exactly is Fitsteps?

Fitsteps is a solo dance fitness class, mixing the graceful moves of ballroom with the up-tempo steps of Latin dance. The fast dances pump up the heart rate, while the slower ones help muscular strength and body toning. And you do it without a partner, so no one is holding you back. I thought this odd at first, but Shauna explains that through the classes you learn the fundamental moves of every dance, and then it all just falls into place.

The class watch Strictly on a Saturday night when it’s on and then if there’s a particular move they like, Shauna will have them practise it the following week, likewise with Dancing with the Stars, RTE’s alternative. But they will improvise and adapt where necessary so it’s never boring.

None of the girls in the group ever had dance lessons before starting Fitsteps and according to Shauna they have come on amazingly. “They are all one hundred percent committed,” she says. The girls in turn told me they love coming to the classes as it’s a way to keep fit while having fun, and learning some real dance moves too.

It might seem easy watching people do it on telly, but there is quite a workout in a three-minute dance. I stayed for part of the class and they were really working out. But the whole thing has a fun factor too and no one is expected to be an expert. Basically, it’s a fitness class delivered through dance.

Fitsteps is open to people of all ages. At present there are around 10 to 12 women in Shauna’s class, which is held twice weekly with most of the ladies coming both nights. Sadly, as yet, no men but she’s hoping that will change. “Once you get them in the door they stay,” Shauna says, “but it’s getting them in in the first place that is the problem.”

And it doesn’t end with Fitsteps. When the official class is over Shauna takes them through an extra class of Burlex. Burlex is an original dance fitness programme that combines a burlesque theme with props and squats. It is especially designed to work on core strength and cardio fitness, increase flexibility and give you a really powerful workout.  And for the Burlex element I’m told they turn on the disco lights and create a very snazzy atmosphere.

Fitsteps happens every Monday evening in Ringsend Community Centre at 8.20pm followed by Burlex; and on Wednesday evenings in St. Matthew’s National School, Irishtown (Fitsteps only) at 7.30pm The cost is €8 per class, or €12 on Monday evenings if you add the Burlex. It works on a pay as you go basis, with no obligation to sign up for a whole term. The Fitsteps class runs for approximately 55 minutes and the Burlex for 35 minutes.

For more information contact Shauna at 0894299768. Or alternatively on Instagram @Shauna_dancefitness.