‘Dancing with the Stars’ choreographer talks the rhythm of fitness


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Sharna Burgess

Sometimes staying in shape is as easy as doing what you love. For Sharna Burgess, lead choreographer and season 13 and season 14 dance troupe member on “Dancing with the Stars”, ballroom blitzes have long bedimmed deadlifts and squats. Where the dance studio has cultivated her passion, it’s also refined her fitness.

HellaWella spoke with Burgess about her fitness philosophy and the fun of dance.

‘Star’ quality conditioning
“For me, definitely salsa, ballroom dancing – it’s a great way to stay fit,” said Burgess, who believes keeping fit (and staying fit) with these types of dances are not only effective, but also fun and social. “You’re still working your core so it’s a fantastic form of exercise.”

Citing one of the many palpable benefits of dance, Burgess noted the various celebrities who have lost weight throughout the history of “Dancing with the Stars,” such as Ricki Lake – who lost 25 lbs. and went down two sizes in season 13 — and Kirstie Alley, who lost about 100 lbs. and went from a size 12 to a size 6 in season 12!

Besides managing to exercise four to five times a week when not on tour or rehearsing, Burgess also stands by additional exercise through Pilates and yoga. “It definitely does wonders to your body just like dance does – I think those two together are a fantastic form of fitness.”

Though your overall routine might not ever reach DWTS intensity – after all the celebs rehearse at least 8 hours a day – the body benefits that come along with dancing could still be enough to reshape the way you workout.

“As a dancer, I love what DWTS does. I love that it brings ballroom to the public and educates the audience, and brings dancing into the lives of people that probably never thought they would take on dance lessons like that,” said Burgess.

A little ‘cha cha’ goes along way
Looking to lose weight and tone up? Burgess recommends dancing to the upbeat rhythms of samba, the jellied swings of rumba and other Latin and ballroom dances.

“If you’re having fun in the process, it doesn’t feel like exercise, it doesn’t feel like you’re dragging yourself to the gym,” she said.

You’ll be working muscles in your back, core, thighs, glutes and abs, leaving you with great definition, Burgess explained.

And the muscle group that gets the biggest workout goes to…

“Our legs. They do all the work for us, [and] you’ll find that a lot of dancers have got stellar legs and really oddly strong feet,” Burgess confessed.

And if you’re looking to condition with dancing, a studio, gym or living room can be the perfect place to set ablaze with fancy footwork.

“Anyone that’s thinking about dance, grab a bunch of friends, find your local dance studio and see what classes they’ve got going on,” said Burgess, who also recommended choosing a DVD with a dance style you love and aren’t so familiar with.