Many of us can remember the days of Jazzercise and the enthusiasm the instructors would whip up among the would-be dancers as they completed dance moves to heart pumping music during the ’80s and ’90s.

Some of us may even recall Richard Simmons and his “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” craze that swept the nation.

For centuries dance has brought many of us out of our shells and onto the dance floor for fun and exercise. Several versions of dance workouts including Zumba and Buti yoga are now popular paths to health here in the Mother Lode.

Music opens doors to fitness

Teaching Zumba is a passion for Jane Lucich, who brings fitness through dance to Class 5 Fitness as well as the Sonora Senior Center and Tuolumne Parks and Recreation Memorial Hall in Tuolumne.

Music and sports researcher Costas Karageorghis says that dance is an instinctive response to music.

Many ancient and traditional cultures used rhythmic movements to express themselves. We are, simply put, wired to dance and move to the rhythm of music.

Dance also boosts heart health and reduces stress and depression.

If all that healthy news about dancing is not enough to get you to bust a groove, you may be interested to know that recently a New England Journal of Medicine study of 11 physical activities found that dancing was the only one that lowered dementia risk by a whopping 76 percent.

In the 21st century, we once again are embracing dance in our fitness programs in the form of Zumba, a mix of low-intensity and high-intensity dance moves to rhythmic Latin music. The Zumba workouts combine all the elements of fitness – cardiovascular training, muscle conditioning, balance and flexibility – all wrapped together in an exercise program disguised as dance.

Zumba has grown to have followers of all ages and fitness levels. In the Mother Lode, Zumba sessions are regular events at a number of venues including commercial gymnasiums and community centers.

But Zumba isn’t the only option here.

One newcomer has its roots in yoga and goes by the acronym BASE, for Buti, attitude, strength, evolution.

Offered at Angels Camp Body Shop, BASE touts itself as an exercise that “has all the strength of a boot camp class with all the sass of burlesque.”

Music opens doors to fitness

The BASE class taught by certified Buti yoga instructor Jennifer Stokes at Angels Camp Body Shop combines rhythmic music with yoga to create a physical workout like no other.

This new dance exercise is garnering a growing following of all age groups and coordination levels. However, Body Shop owner and BASE instructor Jennifer Stock does recommend that “you leave your inhibitions at the door.”

Those who have embraced BASE feel that it does not require exceptional coordination or the innate ability to dance as there are few choreographed moves to learn and follow.

“It lets me get out of my comfort zone,” said Lisa Paris of the BASE workout. “It makes me feel stronger, a workout routine with sass.”

BASE has its originss in Buti yoga, an exercise drawn from primal movement, tribal dance and ancient yoga techniques.

Buti yoga, created by trainer Bizzie Gold, is designed to tone the deep abdominal muscles that stabilize and strengthen the body and favors movements that challenge the body along all planes of motion, creating long, lean muscle tone with feminine curves.


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