Which class should I take to burn the most calories Belly, Ballet, Pole?
January 15, 2013 1:56 PM   Subscribe

I am choosing between taking a belly dancing, pole dancing or beginners ballet class. Which one will burn the most calories? I will be a beginner in all 3
posted by soooo to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Go with the one you're most interested in doing. The only way any of them will do you any good is if you stick with it. If you're having fun it won't feel like a workout and you'll be more inclined to pursue the activity outside of class.
posted by BagOTricks at 2:03 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

Not ballet, at least not until you build significant muscle mass to increase your basal metabolic rate. I'd vote belly or pole dancing; try them both and stick with whichever one you like best.
posted by pintapicasso at 2:05 PM on January 15, 2013

Beginning ballet is mostly barre and slow floor exercises, not really a cardio workout.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:09 PM on January 15, 2013

I think belly dance is the most accessible - pole dancing requires a ton of strength, and until you build it, it can be a slow non-carddio workout. As mentioned above, beginning ballet is also general slow strength-building exercises. Belly dance can launch into fast cardio movements within one class. As BagOTricks suggests, though, the best class for you is the one you'll stick with.

Credentials: I have taken five years of ballet classes, a few pole and burlesque classes, and was part of a belly dance troupe for seven years.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 2:20 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've been pole dancing for several years now and an in the "Master's Class" at my local studio, and am doing beginner ballet. Ballet right now is not very much of a cardio workout, and not a significant strength workout. It's fun and a mental challenge for me, similar to yoga.

The first pole class I did was not hugely challenging to me, but I already worked out pretty regularly, but it can ramp up pretty quickly. The challenge of it once you get into the more gymnastic-like moves is excellent for strength, flexibility and general fitness. Also, long term, you will be continually physically challenged as there are always different moves that engage different muscles.

Belly dancing will get you into cardio more quickly, but it also isn't a hugely tasking form of dance. (I don't do it myself, but have several friends who do.)

So, after all that anecdata, I'm repeating BagoTrick's advice to with the one you enjoy the most. Also, you can totally try one, and then another, and then the third. I think one of the best things about doing sports as an amateur and mostly for fun is that you can play around and there's no specific timeline to get good at them.
posted by Kurichina at 2:42 PM on January 15, 2013

Belly dance classes were all the rage a few years ago. The basics improve posture and tighten tummy muscles. Lessons taken to the level of paid public performance might provide you with a moonlighting job, or at least a sparkly Halloween costume.
posted by Cranberry at 3:04 PM on January 15, 2013

Coincidentally, I took a beginner belly dance class last week, taught by my professional belly dancer friend. What an amazing workout it was! Really, much more taxing than yoga or pilates, and super fun.
posted by cooker girl at 3:20 PM on January 15, 2013

Ballet is an excellent cardio workout when you've been dancing for a few years and can manage long combinations and floor exercises. Beginning ballet is fun and barre classes are good for more advanced students, as well, but it's not much of a workout.

Pole fitness scares the shit out of me - it seems like you need serious upper body strength to do anything beyond the most beginner level stuff. I'd imagine it takes a long time to build up to much of anything with pole fitness, but I don't know, because I am too scared to try. It seems like a steep learning curve sort of thing.

I did not find belly-dancing very physically difficult as an otherwise in shape person with dance experience. I also found it very awkward as someone who studied ballet for a long time - a lot of the movement felt "wrong." But some people really enjoy it!

African dance seems like a good way to work up a sweat, but I have no direct experience with it.

If you're seeking out calorie-busting exercises, dance generally isn't the way to go. Dance is fun, but if you're on a January-get-in-shape mission, pick the dance activity that you will enjoy and stick with long-term or find a more physically taxing form of exercise.

I think that if you're interested in getting into dance in general, a beginner ballet class is great foundation for future exploration. But really - what interest you? What do you want to do?
posted by ablazingsaddle at 4:05 PM on January 15, 2013

Neither ballet nor bellydance provide much cardio for the beginner.

Pole dancing would be the most physically demanding, I'm not sure that a beginner's class involves much cardio per se as by definition a beginner's class is slow.

A lot of dance classes don't necessarily give you a workout, unfortunately. If I were you I'd get a half-hour of cardio out of the way as soon as you get up, and go to class later.
posted by tel3path at 4:15 PM on January 15, 2013

Honestly, whichever one you like the most, and keeps you away from the fridge the longest. Exercise in any form is tangential to weight loss: don't rely on it as a factor in your calorie management, and chances are you'll be happier and more successful in your weight loss goals.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 5:49 PM on January 15, 2013

I've taken beginner ballet and pole dancing classes, and while they were physically strenuous, as in "I didn't know I had a muscle there," neither got me sweating at all. Beginner ballet is mostly about learning to hold positions correctly, and strengthening the muscles that enable you to hold positions correctly. You spend most of your classes standing at a barre, pointing your legs this way and that, and there isn't all that much movement (actual dancing) until you get more advanced. Meanwhile pole dancing can be rather painful... my palms got all hot and red from the friction of sliding down the pole, my arms were super sore, and my legs were bruised from banging into the pole. As a beginner, you can't hang onto the pole for more than a few seconds, so there's not much sustained movement.

I haven't tried bellydancing (but I'd love to) so I have no info to offer.

I've taken a variety of other beginner dance classes, mostly different types of hip hop (popping, locking, "Pussycat Dolls" style, waacking, etc.) and the one that got me seriously sweating and out of breath was dancehall. It's so energetic and you're so down low to the ground, so it really works the most major muscles in your legs and butt. Seriously so much fun too. You might give it a try.
posted by keep it under cover at 6:24 PM on January 15, 2013

Weight loss will come from modifying your diet, exercise will just help build muscle and bring fitness. Pick the one most appealing to you, as none of them could burn enough calories to significantly contribute to weight loss.
posted by schroedinger at 6:25 PM on January 15, 2013

I agree with what everyone is saying about picking the one you'll most enjoy. Also, I agree that beginning classes are more focused on strength and technique, not burning calories. If your top priority is cardio, how do you feel about Zumba?
posted by tinymegalo at 6:26 PM on January 15, 2013

Seconding Zumba for instant calorie-burning and fun. It's rather adjustable to your fitness level as well - you can move and jump more or less depending on your condition. You just have to get over the whole "branded-fitness" thing and dance your ass off for an hour.
posted by walla at 9:35 AM on January 16, 2013

Can you take one of each and decide then?
posted by elizardbits at 10:04 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

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