How Hip-Hop Makes You Happy

Autumn’s now truly upon us and if you’re one of those people who struggle with the lengthening nights and lack of light, then this post is for you.

Moderate aerobic exercise (e.g.  a Street Fit® workout) is already known to be effective in fending off nasty physical diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure (a big risk factor for stroke), but your body also comes with its own store of mood-lifting chemicals, and it appears that their release is also triggered by 10 to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise. Their scientific name is endogenous opioid peptides, but most of us know them by a different name: endorphins.

Why do we release endorphins?

Evolutionists have a theory about this. When we were hunter-gatherers, we often travelled huge distances in search of food. Continuous running in a hostile environment would inevitably lead to bone and joint problems. In response to the pain, some humans were able to release endorphins, the body’s natural analgesic (pain-killer), enabling them to continue moving and ultimately survive. Therefore, according to these experts, we have all evolved to produce these chemicals in response to heavy exercise.

Not just a pain-killer

As with all opioids, endorphins not only mask pain and increase pain tolerance; they also produce an intense feeling of wellbeing, known as euphoria. The effects are similar to that of the drug morphine (the word is a contraction of ‘endogenous morphine’), but it doesn’t come with the same dependency risk, since endorphins are very quickly broken down by enzymes in the blood. In addition to endorphins, exercise triggers the release of other feel-good chemicals such as adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine – and reduces levels of stress-causing cortisol.

Long term effects

As well as the immediate positive feelings, there is evidence that regular exercise benefits mental health in the long term. Older adults who have exercised throughout their lives report lower rates of depression and tend to recover more quickly from bouts of mild to moderate depression. The physical benefits of aerobic exercise will also help to improve self-esteem and mood: as weight is lost and muscles are toned, people become happier with their appearance and more in control of their lives. Endorphins even have a sedative effect, which is great for those who have trouble sleeping.

Keeping Company

Although endorphins are produced after any vigorous exercise, whether running, cycling, dancing or swimming, working out in a group has the bonus of ongoing social contact. Being with other people can provide much needed social support when you’re feeling under the weather.

Please note, if you are worried about your low mood, you should seek immediate help from your GP.


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Why Your Bones Need Exercise Too

Osteoporosis – it’s a painful bone disease that is commonly associated with post-menopausal women, especially the elderly. But make no mistake, even young adults, children and men can be at risk. Sufferers often experience no symptoms in the early stages, becoming aware only after they break a bone after an innocuous bump and undergo a bone density test. However, osteoporosis is largely preventable and the sooner you get into good habits, the easier it will be to maintain good bone health into your later years.

Build Bones with Street Fit®

As you might have guessed by now, regular exercise is good for your bones – but not just any exercise, and some exercises are better than others. Bones need to work against gravity to become stronger, and the best type of exercise for that purpose is weight-bearing aerobic exercise (supplemented with weight-training, for optimal benefits).

Weight-bearing aerobics requires you to support your own body, so swimming and cycling are less effective than running, tennis and dance, for instance.

Jump Around!

It seems that House of Pain may have been dealing out some sound, bone-healthy advice with their iconic track: ‘” Jump Around!’

High-intensity weight-bearing aerobic exercise is particularly beneficial to the bones. This is defined as any exercise where both feet leave the ground, so if you want to dance your way to a fitter, healthier frame, make the most of those leaps and flips.

If you have a history of bone breaks or already suffer from osteoporosis, let your instructor know and stick to low-intensity aerobic exercise.

Staying on Your Feet

Another way in which dance fitness can lead to a longer, better quality life is by improving your balance and co-ordination. It is a sad fact that hip fractures due to falls often mark a significant deterioration in the life of someone with osteoporosis. By learning good posture and co-ordination, dancers can reduce the risk of suffering such a fate.

Supplement Your Skeleton

In terms of diet, the two most important nutrients for promoting and maintaining bone health are Calcium and Vitamin D. We lose Calcium on a daily basis, yet our bodies do not produce it. Calcium can be obtained from dairy products like milk and cheese, fruit, and also from some green vegetables including spinach and broccoli. It is recommended that we take in 1,000mg per day (most of which goes directly to the bones and teeth) – more after the age of 50.

In order to absorb Calcium, we need Vitamin D. This is manufactured by the body when exposed to UV light, so we need to ensure we get enough daylight – especially in the winter months.

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So How Much Weight Can I Lose?

Stronger bones, improved posture, better mental health, enhanced cv fitness…the list of street dance benefits goes on. But for many people, the big attraction of workouts like Street Fit® is the promise of shedding weight. In this post we’re going to focus on weight loss: how many calories you can burn, how many pounds you can lose and why fast-paced dancing is the best way (in our opinion) to achieve your weight loss goals.

Burning Calories: the Numbers

Researching the calorie-burning potential of dancing can leave you with all sorts of figures. Depending on the source you visited, you might come back with anything from 150 to 650 calories an hour; why the big difference?

For a start, some statistics will differentiate between recreational dancing and dance fitness, whereas others will lump them in together. Needless to say, light ballroom dancing isn’t a patch on Street Fit® in the weight loss stakes, so you can safely raise your calorie-burn expectations to at least 250 calories per hour. In fact, the constant working out of the heavy lower-body muscles pushes Street Fit® well into the high-intensity aerobic workout category.

The next major determining factor to consider is your current weight, which makes a huge difference in the number of calories burned in an hour. Looking at the statistics on, a person weighing 130 pounds and participating in high-impact aerobics will lose an average of 413 calories an hour, whereas a person weighing 50 pounds more will be burning 572 calories an hour.

This too is only part of the picture, since there are other factors that cause these figures to vary per person, including:

  • Gender (men burn more calories than women of the same size – sorry girls)
  • Age (younger people tend to burn calories faster)
  • Cardio-vascular fitness (will improve the more you workout, improving your fat burn)
  • Lean muscle mass (more muscle means more calorie-burn, hence the gender difference; this also will increase in time as you build more muscle)

From Calories to Pounds

Once you’ve found out how many calories you will be burning in a session, you will still need to convert that into weight loss. To help you work this out, you will need to be metabolising 3,500 calories a week more than you are taking in to lose one pound of weight. If you do decide to cut down on calorific intake though, you need to be sensible and ensure you are still getting a nutritionally balanced diet.

The Icing on the Cake

The great thing about Street Fit® dance is that weight loss comes with a special added bonus – muscle definition. At the same time as you are burning off those pounds, you will be building muscle mass in all those areas that will make you the envy of your colleagues and friends. Unlike the artificial bulk that results from heavy resistance training, the ultimate Hip Hop Workout® will leave you looking naturally toned and in great shape.

StreetFit® is one of the few CPD, REPs Certified workouts around. Awarded the highest grade, level 4 for a full body active workout.

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The Heart of the Matter: Street Dance and the CV System

According to the NHS, heart disease is the UK’s biggest killer, with one in five men and one in seven women dying of the illness. High cholesterol (which can block arteries) and high blood pressure (which can lead to an unhealthy heart) are among the causes of this tragedy.

Improving your diet to cut down on saturated fats and salt, etc. will help to reduce both of these risk factors, but cardio-vascular exercise will not only reduce blood pressure but will also strengthen the entire cv system, including the heart itself.

What is the cv system?

‘Cardio’ relates to the heart, while the term ‘vascular’ refers to the system of arteries, veins and capillaries that extend throughout the body. Other essential components of this system are the lungs.

The easiest way to visualise this system is as a pair of loops, one small, and one big. The small loop carries purple deoxygenated blood the small distance to the lungs, where it takes on board the oxygen necessary to power your muscles (and other body processes). The bright red, oxygen-rich blood then returns to the heart where the left ventricle, the heart’s power-cell, pushes it through the aorta valve and around the whole of the body through arteries and capillaries.

Once the oxygen has been used, the blood flows back to the heart via the veins and the system repeats itself.

Why exercise benefits the system

The heart is a muscle and, like all muscles, it responds to heavy exertion by growing in size. As the left ventricle becomes capable of pushing more blood around the system (stroke volume increases), the heart doesn’t need to pump so often to maintain the cardiac output necessary to keep the body ticking over. This is why people who exercise regularly tend to have a lower resting heart rate.

By the way, the enlarged heart you get from exercise is very different from the enlargement caused by high blood pressure. In the latter case, the right ventricle walls thicken to cope with the increased pressure, but since the size of the chamber doesn’t grow in proportion, the amount of blood entering is reduced. This causes the stroke volume to decrease and the heart rate to go up.

The lungs also contain intercostal muscle, and cv exercise will strengthen this, enabling your lungs to expand more fully and take in more oxygen. Again, this improves efficiency.

If these benefits weren’t enough, exercise also widens and tones the blood vessels, diluting cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure. The formation of new capillaries is a third way in which cv efficiency is improved.

Working out your heart rate zone

To challenge your heart, you need to perform aerobic exercise at a certain intensity level, often given as 75% of your maximum heart rate. Rather than try and hit an exact figure, many people workout within a certain range, say 50-85% of their maximum heart rate. Only a doctor can give you an accurate figure for your maximum heart rate, but a rule of thumb (for adults) is to deduct your age from 226 bpm (for women) or 220 bpm (for men).

Therefore, to work out within a 50-85% heart-rate zone for a 26 year old woman, you would perform the following calculation:

226-26 = 200 bpm Maximum Heart Rate

200 x 0.5 = 100 bpm lower range

200 x 0.85 = 170 bpm

Using a heart rate monitor, you would then ensure that your heart rate stayed within the 100-170 bpm zone.

Street Fit® – the total body workout

Not only does a Street Fit® workout incorporate a specific cardio section, by exercising the muscles of both the upper and lower body, it will ensure that your heart will be sufficiently challenged to keep your cv system in good shape.

Please note that if you are concerned about the condition of your heart and how exercise will affect it, you need to talk to your doctor. This post is not written by a qualified medical practitioner and does not constitute medical advice.


It’s Official: Dance Fitness IS Good for Arthritis

It’s Official: Dance Fitness IS Good for Arthritis

If you managed to catch the daily papers yesterday, you might have come across headlines confirming what arthritis organisations have known for some time – exercise does benefit people with the condition.

A new study from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York measured the effectiveness of different forms of exercise, including yoga, Pilates’ and dance fitness, and found that:

  1. Exercise reduced pain by a statistically significant amount
  2. Exercise reduced the number of subsequent falls
  3. Falls that did happen were less severe
  4. Enjoyment of life was enhanced
  5. Balance was improve


There are two myths that need addressing straight away:

1.Arthritis is something the elderly get

Wrong. Although most people with arthritis are elderly, the disease can affect young people too. There are even about 20 000 children afflicted with the condition.

2. Exercise makes arthritis worse

Wrong. Even before the recent findings, arthritis organisations have been trying to dispel this myth. For example, the Arthritis Foundation says:

‘Regular, moderate exercise offers a whole host of benefits to people with arthritis.’

Some of the benefits include:

  1. Decreased joint pain and stiffness
  2. Stronger joint-supporting muscles
  3. More flexibility
  4. More endurance
  5. Less inflammation
  6. Less risk of developing related chronic conditions

Prevention Beats a Cure

One of the risk factors of developing arthritis is our old foe obesity, with 30 per cent of obese people living with the painful condition. By getting on top of your weight early in your life, you reduce the risk of arthritis (not to mention heart disease, osteoporosis, Type 2 diabetes, etc.)

In at the Shallow End

If you currently suffer from arthritis and would like to start a dance fitness program, you should see your GP first. Exercise can initially increase pain, and your GP might suggest starting off with some form of water-based workout to take the stress off your joints until your pain is more manageable.

If your doctor gives the go ahead to start dance fitness classes, take note of all the advice you are given and be sure to inform your dance instructor so they can make sure you are exercising safely. It will be particularly important for you to warm-up before working out; the Street Fit® Workout includes a warm-up session in every class, but it is also important to warm-up before exercising at home.

Prevention is better than the Cure – Don’t leave it till it’s too late!

Street Fit® – A to Z

A is for Abs: Beef up your six-pack with the Street Fit core workout.
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B is for B-boy or B-girl: Learn those stylish hip-hop moves!

C is for Cardio: Watch the weight fall off with the Street Fit® cardio workout.
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D is for Diva: Bring out your inner hip-hop queen!

E is for Earnings: We’ll help you increase yours.

F is for Facebook: Like us at

G is for Glutes: Firm ‘em up with the Street Fit® lower body workout.
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H is for Hip Hop Workout®: Another first from Street Fit®

I is for Impress: Be the star of the dance floor

J is for John Scott: He’s Street Fit®

K is for Kick-Start: That’s what a Street Fit® Licence will do for your career!

L is for License: To get yours, book yourself onto one of our courses today!

M is for Membership: See what extra benefits you can get for just £12.50 a month or £80 for the year at

N is for Nathalie: She’s Street Fit®

O is for Opportunity: You really shouldn’t let them pass you by.

P is for Pecs: Help them stand out with the Street Fit® upper body workout.
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Q is for Quick: Book your place fast to corner your share of the market!

R is for Run Your Own Classes

S is for Street Dance Fitness®: That’s ours too!

T is for Twitter: Follow us at!/streetfitTV

U is for You: It’s all about you!

V is for Vitality: Give yourself an energy boost – the healthy way!

W is for Warm Up: Never workout without one.
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X is for Exhilarating: Our Hip Hop Workout® will push you to the limit!

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Z is for…yeah, we’ve all heard!

Detox for the Dancer

With all the literature floating around on the internet, you might be forgiven for thinking that detox is a modern invention. In fact, detox has been practiced for centuries by many different cultures, and the ayurvedic and Chinese medicine systems all place great value on detoxifying the body. But what are toxins and where do they come from?

Toxins Harm the Body

Toxins are natural or artificial chemicals that have been found to have a harmful effect on the interior or exterior of the body. They come from:

  • The food we eat
  • The fluids we drink
  • The air we breathe
  • Physical contact with the skin
  • Micro-organisms
  • Stress

Many people now believe that certain additives in food (e.g. colourings, MSG and aspartame) are harmful to the body, although there is plenty of debate about exactly what is harmful and how bad it is for us. Pesticides, insecticides, heavy metals (e.g. mercury) and other toxic chemicals can also leech into food, while micro-organisms on food that hasn’t been stored safely can reproduce in enough numbers to cause food poisoning. It’s not just about the food we ingest: a low fibre diet increases the risk of constipation, allowing harmful micro-organisms to multiply within the intestines, while certain foods can break down into toxic substances like the infamous free radicals that damage cells.

In terms of fluid, water can be contaminated with all sorts of toxins, from ammonia and chlorine to Prozac! Alcohol is another toxin; its bi-products concentrate in cell membranes and affect the functioning of the body.

Air pollution includes carbon monoxide, a deadly gas created when fuel is burned without adequate oxygen, and methane. Our air is polluted in many ways: factories, cars and even smokers release toxins into the air.

Some toxins have an effect simply by being in contact with the skin, while stress itself can cause excessive amounts of certain hormones to be released into the blood. Not only are these toxic in themselves, they also slow down the action of detoxification enzymes in the liver.

The Symptoms of Toxic Accumulation

Apart from the severe symptoms associated with food poisoning and other acute instances of exposure to toxins (yes – including a hangover!), the need for a detox may be signified by chronic lack of energy, regular colds, aches and pains, mood swings and poor digestion.

How Your Body Cleans Itself

Although the liver is one of the main organs involved in detoxification (removing toxins from the blood), the body works as a unit to cleanse itself. The lungs, skin, white blood cells and intestines all work together to break down and expel harmful substances from the body. Unfortunately, there is only a certain amount of toxins that can be removed by the body itself and those that remain cause untold harm to the body. With humans having added over 120,000 chemicals to the environment and fresh natural food giving way to processed convenience varieties, there is simply too much for the body to handle.

How to Detox

Fasting, or changing to a liquid diet, can take the burden off an overworked digestive system, helping it to cleanse itself, but this should not be done to extreme and it is wise to consult your GP if you plan to significantly alter your diet. Abstaining from alcohol, cigarettes, refined sugars, saturated fats and other stimulating substances (e.g. caffeine) will benefit your system as you cut down on the amount of toxins entering your body. Keeping water levels high will also help to cleanse the system. Household cleaning and personal care products may also be toxic so consider switching to natural alternatives.

There are also lots of specialist detox diets on the internet and in health publications. Some recommend high amounts of fibre to scrape the intestines clear, while others include foods thought to have purifying properties. Some diets focus on particular organs, for example the liver, while others provide a more general detox. While some diets are backed by the latest research, others are more theory-based, so use your own judgement when choosing one to follow. Bear in mind the advice in previous posts about a dancer’s energy requirements. If you plan to fast, you should do this at a time when you are not training or teaching (e.g. during a week off).

The skin can also be detoxed: Saunas and ‘hot yoga’ are designed to increase the rate of perspiration, while skin-brushing removes toxins from the surface of the skin. Try out yoga, meditation and qigong if you have problems with relaxation.

Street Fit®, along with any other high-paced exercise workout, is itself a fun, effective way to detox – one of the best methods to follow! With your lungs and circulation working faster, toxins are removed more quickly from the body, while perspiration helps to cleanse the skin.

If you have some spare cash you might opt for one of the more luxury detox aids out there, for example colonic irrigation, a body wrap, massage or a facial. Some spars and retreats even offer specialised dietary and exercise advice.

Moving on:  staying clear of toxins

Whilst a certain amount of toxins are inevitable (and can easily be dealt with by a healthy adult’s body), consider implementing the following lifestyle changes:

1.       Increase fibre content

Buy organic fruit and veg (which will also have less exposure to pesticides) and substitute white for brown rice and bread.

2.       Care for your liver

A healthy liver is key to keeping clear of toxins. Protect it with herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion root and burdock. Try drinking green tea occasionally.

3.       Think C for cleansing

Vitamin C is involved in the production of glutathione in the liver, a compound which promotes detoxification. It is best to get your vitamin C from your diet rather than as a supplement.

4.       Breathe deeply

Deep breathing not only promotes relaxation, it aids in the flow of oxygen around the body.

5.       Exercise!

Fortunately for those in the street dance fitness industry, exercise is one of the best ways to detox, one more reason to kick out the couch and take up the Hip Hop Workout® habit!

Diet or Exercise, Which is Best for Your Health?

For those battling with obesity (26% of adults in 2010, according to the NHS), the standard advice is to eat less and do more exercise. This seems logical, since weight gain has to come from taking in more energy than we use. But do we really need to exercise more to hit our weight loss targets or is it enough to simply cut down on the chips and biscuits?

We looked at some of the latest research on diet, exercise and health, and found three studies that shed some light on the issue.

Stay Fitter Longer

It is well-known among those in the street dance fitness business (and other fitness professionals) that aerobic exercise benefits the heart. During a high-intensity workout, the lungs actually grow new blood capillaries and the heart increases in strength. The result of all this is that the heart has to beat less often to pump adequate blood to those hungry muscles (that’s why top athletes have really low heart rates – even after exercise).

With inadequate exercise and excessive weight our inefficient heart and vascular system are put under extreme pressure, leading to breathlessness and weakness. This leads to a vicious circle as we end up doing less to avoid those symptoms.

A recent study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research split participants into two groups: both were put on a calorie reduction programme but one group were also given an exercise regime. Although the effects on heart rate were negligible at first, a follow-up study a year later found that those who had eaten less and exercised maintained a lower heart rate, whereas the diet-only group had not. The study concluded that those with a lower heart rate would also be more likely to keep active as it would feel more comfortable for them to do so.

Control Your Blood Sugar

Obesity is linked to Type II diabetes which is usually characterised by a measure of increased insulin resistance. This is where the body’s cells fail to react properly to insulin, the hormone responsible for controlling blood sugar levels. High levels of IMAT and VAT (Intramuscular/visceral adipose tissue – or fat to most of us!) increases the risk of insulin resistance.

A study by the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics in St Louis, found that although weight loss helped to bring down IMAT and VAT, exercise was even better.

Combat the Ageing Process

There is often conflicting information about the effects of weight loss on the elderly. It is sometimes thought that weight loss will make muscle wastage worse, leading to weakness in old age.

The third study we looked at, carried out by Washington University School of Medicine between 2005 and 2009, found that over 65s who had a history of combining dieting with exercise were stronger and had better co-ordination and gait than those who had relied on diet or exercise alone.

So it seems, from these studies, that a combination of weight loss and exercise really will keep you fitter and healthier for longer. Of course, the above studies concentrated on the effects of diet and exercise on overall health, but there are other benefits to regular exercise, for example enhanced muscle tone, better co-ordination and improved mood.

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Street Dance Fitness: What’s it all About?

Millions of people worldwide have now fallen in love with the new dance fitness craze, and it’s not hard to see why.

Dancing is not only fun; practised regularly it can promote effective weight loss. Even Robbie Savage, the recently retired pro footballer, admitted he lost an inch off his waist during his time on Strictly Come Dancing.

Why is Dance Fitness such a good way of losing weight? As with any aerobic exercise, dance fitness workouts employ the big, oxygen-hungry muscle groups of the body.

The extra demand for oxygen requires a huge response from the heart, lungs and blood vessels (the so-called cardiovascular system).

All of this high-intensity action requires a fuel source – carbs and fats.

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Look good; feel good

Many of us could afford to shed a few pounds here and there, but looking good is about more than just your BMI.

Although a leaner body will give muscles more definition, the shape (tone) and size of those muscles can be finely sculpted using dance fitness workouts.

Street dance fitness workouts are particularly beneficial to the legs and glutes, but don’t worry; if you want a flatter, more defined abdomen or a stronger upper body there are specific movements that can target these specific areas.

Of course, if fitness was easy we would all be boasting lean, trim physiques but working out requires effort and commitment.

Doing the same exercises week in, week out can become boring, and boredom has a catastrophic effect on your motivation. You find yourself losing stamina and this reduces the fat-burning potential of your workout.

This is where Street Dance Fitness suddenly starts to demonstrate its unique appeal. With new dance routines to master, you will always have a positive reason for attending your dance fitness class.

Once you’ve learned the latest movements, you can show them off to your peers the next time you hit town.

The Hip Hop Beat

And then there’s the music. Street Fit workouts are performed to energizing, high tempo music that is designed to get you moving, while forgetting that you’re actually working.

Once you’ve mastered the Hip Hop eight count, you will have found the key to the street dance choreography and your progress will soar.

And There’s More

There are extra benefits too, including:

1. An improved social life, whether you’re looking to make new friendships or win over that hot guy or girl at the club!
2. Better co-ordination, enabling you to move with more style and grace – on and off the floor.
3. More flexibility, keeping your body youthful and strong.
4. More flexibility, keeping your body youthful and strong.

Watch This Space

If you’re raring to get started, Street Fit workouts should be coming to a city near you soon. If you can’t wait for that, consider becoming a Street Fit Instructor yourself.

By attending our one-day Instructors’ Course you can grab yourself an exclusive licence to teach Street Fit classes in your area.

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