Active Campus: Whiplash shows you how to get fit like a dancer

Toned abs. Killer calves. Strong quads and glutes. If you can name it, you can bet dancers use it. Even their feet are trained to arch specially.

Well, want to be fit like a dancer? That would be one heck of a compliment. So we turned to Penn State Whiplash, an entertainment-style dance team on campus, to dig up the dirt on why dancing is a fabulously healthy habit.

In the midst of its busy season, the club’s president, Laura Mellone, and vice president, Alexis Joseph, found the time to share a little about their fitness and dancing routines.

“It’s completely different than going to the gym,” Mellone says.

Though the group may include crunches in a warm-up, it’s definitely the actual dancing that works their bodies.

“You don’t work on one muscle. [Dancing] is constant movement using every muscle, which is definitely a lot on your body,” Joseph adds.

Dance rehearsals are undoubtedly an intense, head-to-toe workout, especially with a serious schedule. They perform three to five times a month — including homecoming, THON and halftime shows at wrestling matches.

Usually, the group practices twice a week for two hours, but in preparation for their spring show, the dancers pack on additional five-hour practices Saturdays and Sundays around this time of year.

Each practice starts off with stretching as a group, which is important to all athletics and workouts, not just dancing. The girls work from the top down or bottom up, ensuring each muscle group is stretched and the whole body is warmed up. Tending to every body part is an absolute essential.

Since hip-hop is a large part of their dance style, constantly “getting low” has the same effect on their quads and glutes as doing squats would. When they turn, they have to clench their abs, so a strong core is necessary for quick movements.

“If you ever sit in and take a real dance class, it’s not just an art form, it’s a legit workout,” Mellone says.

If you’re looking for new additions to your workout, the girls have some suggestions. For cardio and toning combined, try jumping jacks or burpees. To strengthen your core muscles, try planks or lifting your head and feet while lying on your stomach.

Mellone and Joseph agree that dancing keeps everyone active, but aside from being physically active, Whiplash’s involvement around campus is a huge priority for the group.

“If we’re not dancing, we’re running around campus doing something,” Mellone says, “Like we say at tryouts, we make the team what it is.”

Photo courtesy of Whiplash

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