Dance. It Does a Body Good: A Guest Post from Lisa


I’ve been reading the blog Solo Lisa for a good long time now, and it never fails to impress me. Lisa strikes me as an incredibly smart, savvy, chic, modern woman who knows what she wants and doesn’t wait for an invitation to run out and grab it. She is colossally busy, yet manages to cook up insightful and entertaining posts on a daily basis. Essentially, we’re talking about a powerhouse here.

One of the things I’ve learned from Lisa’s comments on MY body image posts, is that she is an avid salsa dancer, and never feels more fabulous about her bod than when she’s moving to the music. So I asked her to write a little about the connection between salsa and self-love, and boy did she ever deliver!

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Before I began dancing salsa four or five years ago, I’d never been very keen on exercise. I blame my high school PE curriculum for breeding this dread in me: It stressed throwing, catching, and/or running after a ball in some variation or another (basketball, volleyball, soccer…you catch my drift) – none of which I was very good at or particularly enjoyed. I began to think, “If this is what physical activity is, it’s not meant for me. I’m a brain, not an athlete.” I took refuge in my books and patiently counted down the days until mandatory PE was over.

One day, I saw “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” and developed a huge crush on the lead actor Diego Luna (a crush that is still going strong today). The film and the idea of Latin dance never left my head, and by the time summer was over and third-year university classes began, I knew I wanted to learn how to salsa. I signed up for deeply discounted lessons with one of my university’s dance clubs.

The first lesson had me hooked, and since then salsa has never let me out of its rhythmic, vibrant grasp. I still can’t believe how much more fun it is than any other form of exercise I’ve ever tried. You meet new friends at lessons and clubs and dance socials. You get to dress up in cute tops and skirts and dresses and buy pretty, open-toed ballroom shoes. Your social life suddenly goes into overdrive because you’re going out dancing two, three, even four times per week. You’re introduced to a whole new genre of music – Latin music – and what wonderful, upbeat, exuberant music it is!


The physical benefits of dance are obvious. When I started taking more classes and joined an amateur performance team in my second year of dancing, I noticed that I was developing muscle tone and strength. Perhaps more important, though, was how salsa improved my relationship with my body and made me more open-minded about physical activity. I could keep myself in shape and take care of my body without running after a stupid ball after all! I also began to cherish my body for what it could do rather than what it was. Sure, my stomach sticks out a bit and my calf muscles are huge, but my body is stronger and healthier than ever. It’s a body that can land a double spin, master a piece of choreographed footwork for a shine solo, and follow the leads of seasoned dancers, earning surprised looks of admiration at my ability.

I began salsa hoping to gain a skill, and looking back I realize I’ve gained a world. Twice weekly dance sessions, the people I’ve met and the new friends I’ve made, the physical benefits to be reaped, the way salsa gives me a way to de-stress and let loose after work—every aspect of my life has been enriched by it. If you’re even thinking of doing dance classes I say go for it, but be prepared: The rhythm is going to get you and you’ll be hooked, guaranteed.

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Thanks, Lisa, for a fantastic guest post! Please be sure to add Solo Lisa to your daily reads, if it isn’t among them already.

Top image courtesy krypto. Salsa image courtesy salsavancouver.net.

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  • Toad Lillie

    What a great post! My healthclub offers latin dance several times a week and over the course of a year I've gotten hooked too. Even though I've never been one for the gym, this venue has consistently become the highlight of my week. I love how empowering dance is. It encourages you to embrace your curves and your sensuality. You can't help but be joyous and celebrate all that your body can do for you!

  • Lauren (asiancajuns)

    Thanks for having Lisa be a guest blogger, Sal! She has been one of our daily reads for a while now too- we love her sense of style and the confidence she exudes- most inspirational!

    Lisa, Cath and I would back you up 100% with dance! We grew up dancing pre-professionally (mainly ballet), and always shunned sports that encouraged throwing and catching large, fast moving objects. Ballet was a bit stressful, but as I got older I tried other forms of dance (and just a wee bit of salsa- I should do more ;). My favorite was flamenco. Have you tried it? It's probably a lot less effervescent than salsa, but I've never moved in a way that makes me feel so powerful and strong. Your post makes me want to get dancing again! Thanks for the gobs of inspiration, Lisa!

  • Indy

    That pictures is divine! So beautiful.

    I really appreciate your blog. You are definitely an inspiration!

  • Erin

    yeah i really liked salsa when i did it (at lisa's recommendation!). buuuuttt, as fun and as social as it is, it just doesn't grab me in the same way pure adreneline does. nothing beats the feeling of competing against someone and beating them. ha ha. =)

  • Pamcasso

    Great post. I've always regretted not learning to dance when I was younger!

  • Winnie

    I love these collaborative posts. She definitely shows that it is all about self confidence and even better, dancing is fun which means it doesn't even seem like exercise! I'm no dancer but that sounds pretty good to me…

  • dapper kid

    I would absolutely love to learn how to salsa! And I must say that exercise which doesn't feel like exercise when you do it gets my vote. As long as you're having fun, it's allll good 🙂 Hope you're having a beautiful day!

  • Someone

    Yesss, dance is a great way to go for those of us not into the whole team sports thing. As a kid I danced ballet, a little modern, and later on classical dance of India and some bellydance. I've tried a little salsa and lurve it, but my youngest sister went from salsa to samba. That's her main hobby and she stays model-slender doing it. Great post!

  • lizzle

    Ah! I've been umming and aaahing about dance lessons for about 2 months now, and this might just give me the kick I need!

    Not salsa, but swing. One of my friends took us to a swing dance night at a pub for her birthday and it was amazing to watch, but also to have a go!

    Thankyou for your blog Sal, and this post Lisa!

  • Kari

    What a fantastic guest post. I can fully relate to Lisa's experience. Growing up, I was also a very stereotypical uncoordinated, brainy bookworm, and having awful distance vision didn't help. I enjoyed (but never excelled at) solo activities like swimming and running because I could mentally concentrate on things beyond my body, and I wouldn't let teammates down if I sucked. I definitely didn't dance.

    Then in my junior year in college, one of my friend convinced me to try Scottish Country Dancing just one time with her. It was a wonderful group of people and I found that I really enjoyed social dance. 5 years later, I'm still dancing once a week (except for summers.)

    I'm amazed at how greatly dancing has transformed my body image. Sure, I wish that I had an easier time fitting my calves into knee-high boots, but I love how strong and shapely and muscular they are because those muscles allow me to dance on the balls of my feet and really move. I also have a lot more core control from the balance required in dancing, and much more faith in my body.

    Salsa sounds wonderful. I'd love to try it someday!

  • The Anthology

    So true! Dancing is the very best exercise there is. You make me think I need to start up again. It's been awhile.

    * Kelsey

  • daddylikeyblog

    What a beautiful post, Lisa! And so perfectly in tune with the Already Pretty mission–I'm inspired! My boyfriend and I have been talking about trying salsa, and now I feel like we have no excuse. Lisa, I'll let you know how it goes! 🙂

  • realsand

    great post! thanks for introducing me to another wonderful blogger! i'm inspired to start dancing again after this post. i haven't latin danced in over 5 years!! it was so much fun, don't know why i stopped…hmm…time to check out the local salsa scene me thinks. 🙂

  • Bere Tarde o temprano

    I love Lisa´s post too, she is a very smart girl 🙂

    I loooove to dance Salsa, it is an excellent way to make exercise and have fun!

    I haven´t read you blog before but now thanks to This guest post i will be doing it.

    kiss