An effective warm-up for any workout should include five to eight minutes of movement that graduates in intensity, with full range-of-motion movements that are pertinent to the specific workout. A dance warm-up should incorporate neck, shoulder, arm, torso, hip, leg, ankle and foot isolations with gradual movement to prepare the body for more vigorous exercise. Dance steps for gradual movement provide an element of fun in the warm-up.
Hip-Hop Body Isolations
Hip-hop dance classes engage every muscle of the body, from the neck down to the toes. To keep the body flexible and strong, a proper hip-hop warm-up includes muscle isolations. Begin with your neck, shaking yes and shaking no, pressing ear to shoulder right and left and looking right and left with genie pushes. Move on to your shoulders with shrugs, both shoulders together and then one at a time. Next, move to your torso with rib isolations, extending forward, back and to the sides. Follow with hip isolations forward, side, back and side, then smooth it out to a hula-hoop style movement. End with ankle and foot rotations.
The cha-cha is a fun Latin step that can be incorporated to any style warm-up. This move is fun and easy enough for anyone to do. To cha-cha, step your left foot forward and count two. Bring it back to center and count three. Do a chasse by stepping left with your left foot, left with your right foot and left with your left foot. Step backward with your right foot and count two. Bring it back to center and count three. Step right with your right foot, right with your left foot and right with your right foot -- cha, cha, cha. For variation and to stretch your hip flexors, instead of stepping forward or backward, so a crossover step and then bring it back to center. You can follow the cha-cha with any move.
Modern Dance Arms
Adding extra arm movements is a quick and easy way to spice up your current warm-up routine. In modern dance arms, sweep from side to side, using full range-of-motion. Incorporate these arms into a side step by sweeping your right arm in a large circle right, when you step right, and sweeping your left arm in a large circle left, when you step left. After alternating your arms, try sweeping both arms in a circle while stepping to both sides. This creates a very dramatic dance look without being overly complicated. This movement also is good for warming up your shoulders and arms.
Shimmy and Shake
One fun way to spice up your warm-up is with belly dancing moves. Belly dancing engages your core, is rhythmic and improves posture. Add an upper body shimmy to a basic step touch or forward walk and alternate with hip shakes.