Have Jazz Hands, Will Jazzercize
November 4, 2021 9:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm fat. I have zero rhythm. I'm very out of shape. I have asthma. I have poorly shaped feet and corresponding inferior balance. But, lord help me, I just want to DANCE

I don't want to dance-dance. I don't want to try to learn how to do anything that counts as dancing. Instead, I just want to move in ways that feel free and fun while listening to music. I'd like something that would help give a bit of structure to how I do this--something more than me just turning on a Spotify playlist and bouncing in my exercise space.

I've tried dance-focused aerobic videos before, but they don't work for me. Even the beginner ones are challenging. And, also, there's too much emphasis on following specific movement routines: I'm not coordinated enough to be able to pick up on them, and I get lost in the 'choreography,' and then I get frustrated. I'm sure, if I stuck with one long enough, I could memorize it and keep up, but the process of frustration isn't worth it for me. I don't want anything where I feel like I have to work, or like I'm putting effort into what I'm doing.

Something that's fat-positive and focused primarily on finding ways to enjoy the feeling of movement would be best for me. Anything that's focused on "feel the burn!" or "work it, don't give up!" or "let's get in shape!" probably won't work well for me. I absolutely do not want anything that's focused on weight loss.

I feel like I don't really know what I'm asking for. I want a work out video that isn't designed as work out, and I want dance exercise that isn't exercise and doesn't put emphasis on following a very specific choreographed routine. I want something like guided meditation, I guess--only not focused on stillness and calm, but instead is about feeling alive through movement. I want something that'll help me learn how to have fun by moving around to rockin' tunes.

Any recommendations?
posted by meese to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
As detailed on last week's Maintenance Phase podcast, may I suggest Angela Lansbury's Positive Moves?

It's a bit silly considering it's the lady from Murder She Wrote but...it's definitely FUN, and definitely not about choreography or feeling any burns.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:29 AM on November 4, 2021 [6 favorites]

Maybe silly, but would something like the Just Dance games on wii work? They suggest choreography, but it's mostly about you moving along to fun songs. I haven't tried them in years, but used to have a blast dancing around to them with my kids.
posted by hessie at 9:36 AM on November 4, 2021 [6 favorites]

I find that Beat Saber (requires a VS headset) is excellent for this sort of thing.
posted by pipeski at 9:38 AM on November 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Nia is movement based wellness program that might interest you.
posted by Uncle at 9:48 AM on November 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Belly dance doesn't have the rockin tunes but it is low impact and fun and lively. I like Leilah Isaac's videos on youtube.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:49 AM on November 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

It's kinda cheesy, but Body Groove claims to do just this, "teach you how to make each movement perfect for your body, no matter what your fitness level, and no matter what limitations you have that day." I tried a couple of the videos, they weren't that bad but I cant give a glowing recommendation because I didn't stick with it for any length of time. But it cant hurt to check it out for yourself!
posted by cgg at 9:56 AM on November 4, 2021

I also came in here to recommend that episode of Maintenance Phase that talks about Angela Lansbury's exercise video. The whole concept is about "moving freely" and seems like it's what you're looking for.

As an aside, I got in my head that I wanted to learn to ice skate -- even though I was fat, old, uncoordinated, etc. I started three years ago and I freaking love it. I'm not good at it at all but I enjoy the hell out if it, so I really encourage you to follow your interest in dance for sure!
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:56 AM on November 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

My friend, you need Dance Church*. Livestreamed dance parties that give you a workout in a very silly, very free-form, very "Shake your left hand around! Ok shake your right hand around! Ok now wiggle your hips!" No "feel the burn" or diet culture B.S. although the instructors I've seen are mostly thin.

Classes are taught live in NYC I believe, but livestreams are free and you can pay to get on-demand videos.

* Not religious at all
posted by rogerroger at 10:09 AM on November 4, 2021 [7 favorites]

I will echo the suggestion for rhythm-based video games. There are a lot of options. Some systems (like the Wii or Oculus quest) have motion-sensing built in. With other system, you may need to buy a dance mat, which will register your foot motions. (Be warned that, in my experience, dance mats wear out after a certain amount of use.)

I've used Dance Dance Revolution with a dance mat on playstation; Samba de Amigo on Wii; and Beat Saber and Synth Rider on Oculus Quest. They're all great and (especially when you're starting with rhythm games), you can choose your game based purely on whatever system you have access to. Alternately, you could look up gameplay videos and see which one has an aesthetic that you particularly like.

It's also worth noting that most of these games track your arm movement, or your leg movement, but not both. The structure comes in getting the right movements for whichever limb they track. The freedom comes in what you do with the rest of your body.

One general tip, which applies to all rhythm games: if you find them too challenging, play around with the settings. Most of them by default make you lose a level if you miss too many steps -- but most of them give you the option of turning that off, so it's lower stakes and you can just keep playing no matter how many steps you miss.
posted by yankeefog at 10:10 AM on November 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

What you're asking for was the original intent of the old 'Sweatin to the Oldies' with Richard Simmons. If you can handle the 80s clothing and like oldies music, you might find some fun with some old videos. Even if you don't match their choreography, the intent is just to keep moving.
posted by hydra77 at 10:13 AM on November 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Check out letsjoyn Classes lead by larger people, with modifications for everyone. And its all free.. You may have to check out a few videos to find a good one for you

HEre's their Dance classes, with low intensity

posted by Ftsqg at 10:13 AM on November 4, 2021

Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) gets recommendations for dancing & exercising at home.

I love to dance, but remote dancing - video, zoom, etc. - is harder for me to get revved up for. Things that help me are more volume and good dance music. My friend has a couple youtube playlists that get me up and moving. My friend is in her 60s and has a dance mix on youtube. Music is so personal, this migt not be useful, but there are a lot of playlists available, probably one that will suit.
posted by theora55 at 10:19 AM on November 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Tapfit might be novel enough (special workout tap shoes and a surface!) that following a routine, or just making noise with your feet, keeps you moving. You could follow the workout or just get a few tap steps learned and tap to anything you like.

(maybe not as good if you are in an apartment above some neighbors)
posted by emjaybee at 10:35 AM on November 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

I got a lot of fun and mighty upper arms from joining a community samba school and eventually being assigned to the chocalho section as part of a damage-limitation exercise - all my bum notes were drowned out by The Effectives. On parades we had to a) play whatever instrument in our hands b) sway from side to side in unison c) march forward; I could manage any two of these at the same time.
posted by BobTheScientist at 10:36 AM on November 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think maybe you might like Fat Kid Dance Party. Bevin goes deep into over coming the feelings of awkwardness that can come with doing this kind of joyful movement, and is focused on just feeling good in your body.
posted by kimdog at 11:04 AM on November 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'll Nth yankeefog ; I absolutely love Synth Riders on the Quest 2. You can take a look at synthriderz.com to see some of the custom songs that can be added. I bought Synth Riders in late October 2020, and I'll play 4-8 hours of Synth Riders each week. It *feels* really dance-y, even if I know I look ridiculous while doing it. But it's fun, and I feel good at the end of playing.

I've even got a silly cut up washcloth that I use to keep face sweat from bothering me as part of my "getting ready to play SR" ritual. Here is a mixed reality video to kind of show the experience of playing. You can ask via memail if you want to know more about it.
posted by nobeagle at 1:21 PM on November 4, 2021

Depends if throwing money at this problem is an option for you, but I second Just Dance. I have it on the Nintendo Switch. There is a routine, but it doesn't really matter if you make all/any of it, or do an adaption that suits you. Because it's a video game there's none of the embarassment of an actual dance class when everyone else in the room has got a move and you still can't get it, and the class wants to move on, which is me in every dance class. It's also easier to "replay" than a video. There are slower, easier dances and harder, frenetic dances.

I managed to recruit all my housemates who "don't like video games" to do it with me - everyone commented on how surprised they were that they were out of breath (it tricks you into thinking you're just having a good time!) and by the time I left the house, one of them was doing secret sessions with it, she was enjoying it so much (also she wanted to get more points than everyone else...)
posted by trotzdem_kunst at 1:59 PM on November 4, 2021

5rhythms? From YouTube playlists or your own playlists, not necessarily classes?
posted by clew at 2:20 PM on November 4, 2021

When I was seeing ads for obe fitness I thought it sounded a bit like this. Fun, silly, not sure about the non weight loss focus but I just saw on their preview a Cruella DeVille workout and another workout with drag queens.
posted by crunchy potato at 3:08 PM on November 4, 2021

There are about a gajillion zumba videos on youtube ranging from super easy beginner stuff to more complicated high energy stuff. They're available in a bunch of dance-able musical styles.

I've never been able to dance to save my life, but I started out with a 10 minute super beginner video and did that until it sunk in, then worked my way up to longer ones. 10 minutes was too long to start with, so I would do just a few minutes at first and then add a couple of minutes a week. I did them at home where nobody could watch so I didn't have to feel lame about it. I would do the same ones over and over again until the moves got easier, starting with just doing the feet and them adding other parts as they got easier. Since nobody was watching I didn't feel any pressure to get it right and just let myself slowly get better at a natural pace.

I don't know if it'll work for you, but maybe it's worth a try.

Here's what I started with.
posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 8:45 PM on November 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

I have nothing to add except to say that I love everything about this - the title, the question, and the amazing variety of answers. I hope you dance your ass off and love every minute of it!
posted by widdershins at 6:26 AM on November 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

Would maybe something like No Lights No Lycra be of interest? They had online options too, but I haven't checked them out in a while.

I also second the Just Dance games. You don't even need a gaming system, just an app on your phone and an internet browser on some kind of a display (TV, PC, laptop, tablet...).
posted by gakiko at 5:22 AM on November 7, 2021

Response by poster: Hello, everyone!

Fat Kid Dance Party, it turns out, is exactly what I wanted. It's joyful, it's inclusive, it emphasizes self-care and self-acceptance, and it's fun. I'm really loving it, and I'd recommend it to one and all.
posted by meese at 11:53 AM on November 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

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