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Rock Your Way to a Dancer's Body
Star Choreographer Jamie King Shows You the Steps — and the Rules

Rock Your Body by Jamie King

Is it possible to rock 'n' roll all night and party every day — and still have a killer bod? If your party includes a hefty dose of dancing, then it just might be possible. Choreographer Jamie King has made it his business to blend infectious dance moves with rock 'n' roll grooves.

(Article continued below.)

If you saw Ricky Martin's "Black & White" or "Livin' la Vida Loca" concerts, or Christina Aguilera when she was out with "Back to Basics," you've enjoyed his work. King directed their tours, and he has also directed tours for Madonna (who he has worked with for over a decade), Shakira, Paulina Rubio, and Avril Lavigne, among others; been nominated three times for Emmys and five times for VMA awards, including Jennifer Lopez's "I'm Glad"; and choreographed dozens of commercials, videos, award shows and TV specials. And there's a good reason for his many achievements — watching his fresh, ubercool hip-hop steps makes you want to get up and move. "I believe that inside, every person is a dancer," King says in his book, Rock Your Body. Within its pages, and on its DVD counterpart, he sets out to unleash the joy of dance, while helping you to get fit at the same time.

Dance doesn't receive enough attention as a fitness activity, and that's too bad. A 1975 study of 61 sports put ballet dance right behind football for its physical demands and need for speed, agility and strength. They may be sweating on a stage instead of a track or a playing ground, but dancers are definitely athletes. As King points out in his book, dance works the body as a whole. You get functional fitness and flexibility, cardio training and balance. Plus dance gives you stamina and grace — and it's fun. Unlike many cardio dance DVDs, which contain moves that you wouldn't even want to do in front of an audience of one, King's Rock Your Body workout is loaded with steps that, once mastered, move easily to the dance floor.

rock your body dvd by Jamie King If you're ready to venture into King's hip-hop style of dance grooves, both the book and the DVD break the steps down nicely. With the book you get crisp photographs and the chance to learn at your own pace; with the DVD you get to see it all in action and practice along with King and his dancers. There's also a tightly choreographed, light strength training session to give your muscles an extra push. You probably won't learn the actual dance routines overnight, so doing the warm-up, strength training session and cool down are a good holdover until you're up to speed.

But having a dancer's body is about more than just learning some cool moves. It also involves learning how to eat right. King points out, "Contrary to what you might think when you see a thin, willowy dancer, she isn't living on cigarettes and yogurt," and even if she were, her career would burn out very, very quickly. Says King, "without eating right, no dancer is going to make it." So you'll find a section in the book called "Rock Your Diet." King admits he's not a nutritionist, so he called in expert Debra Wein of Sensible Nutrition in Boston to help put together these crucial chapters. Fortunately, eating like a dancer involves more common sense than math (King doesn't believe in counting grams of carbs and fat), with a focus on eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and less sugary, greasy food. Because dancing requires energy, King plays up the value of carbohydrates, which are essential for fueling your body. In fact, he and Wein both agree that most people eat more protein than they really need. They also emphasize quality over quantity — leaner protein, healthy fats, reasonable portions of everything, and eating small meals every few hours instead of gorging three times a day. To help you start eating healthier, there's a whole chapter of recipes that are delicious and thankfully easy to prepare, with easy-to-find ingredients.

Tying it all together is the dancer's spirit, that feeling of freedom that comes when everything — the steps, your sense of wellbeing, your outlook on life - falls into place. You're locked into your inspiration and you feel great, no matter what size outfit you wear. Dancers learn to be fearless and to trust their instinct. King has worked with singers who are longtime dancers, and others who he had to teach from scratch and has gotten amazing performances from all of them. You'll find a lot of these celebs quoted in Rock Your Body.

King's energy and enthusiasm is infectious, whether you're reading the book or practicing along with the DVD. It's likely that his positive mental attitude can be attributed directly to his profession. Hitting the treadmill at the gym just doesn't compare to the feeling of confidence you get from really feeling the music as you move in rhythm. King, who grew up in Wisconsin, writes that dance can be the key to achieving your dreams, "even if those dreams have nothing to do with dance. Because by taking this first risk — trying something new, something you didn't think you could do — you're opening yourself up for other risks." Can any other form of exercise or sport do this with quite so much joy? No wonder dance makes you feel so sexy and in tune with life.

Follow the steps outlined in Rock Your Body, and you won't just feel like a dancer — you'll be a dancer. And that may only be the beginning of better things to come.

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