It’s no secret that dancing is a great way to sneak in some cardio—sometimes for hours! An elevated heart beat can help you improve cardiovascular health, burn calories, lose fat, and up your metabolism. However, it also comes with a sometimes inconvenient side effect: Sweating. Some salsa clubs are small but packed, and some offer no air conditioning and limited ventilation. How can you keep your cool, literally, while still indulging in your favorite hobby?
For starters, remind yourself why keeping cool is important. Beyond sweating, which is your body’s way of telling you it needs to cool down, hot clubs can lead to dehydration. This goes double if you’re not drinking enough water or (worse) only drinking alcohol while at salsa clubs. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are both very serious conditions that can be dangerous and even deadly, although there are no reports of serious harm from overheating in a salsa club. Still, keep an eye out for exhaustion, excessive thirst, nausea, headaches, a tingling sensation and goosebumps.
If your favorite salsa club doesn’t come with a generous side of air conditioning, you can also follow these tips to stay cool:
- Dress appropriately. This should be obvious, but it’s very tempting to show off your latest club outfit regardless of how breathable and appropriate it is for the temperature. Choose nightclub clothes that are loose and easy to move in. Breathable fabrics are a must, and many times less is more if the club is notorious for being especially hot.
- Drink plenty of water. Hydration is key when you’re undertaking any aerobic activity. You need to continuously replace the hydration you’re losing when you sweat. Even on a non-cardio day, a good rule of thumb is to drink at least half as many ounces as your body weight in water. For example, a 150 pound person needs at least 75 ounces of water per day—likely more if it’s a salsa day!
- Take frequent breaks. Just like you probably wouldn’t go 100 percent running, kickboxing, going up stairs or cycling for 30+ minutes without breaks (which can include slowing down instead of stopping), it can be dangerous to dance non-stop. Fitness watches with heart rate monitors can be a great way to gauge where your body is at so you can sit out the occasional dance. Otherwise, listen to your body! It will tell you what it needs.
- Go outside. That blast of fresh air can help reinvigorate you and (depending on the outside vs. inside temperature) can quickly help regulate your temperature. It’s also a way to “force” yourself to sit out a dance or two when dancing non-stop is a big temptation for you.
- Eat lightly beforehand. Have you ever noticed that you feel warmer if you’ve eaten heartily that day? That’s because your body has fuel and it’s revved up. Dancing on an emptier stomach can help you from feeling hot, nauseated and sluggish. A lot of fitness buffs tout the benefits of fasted cardio, claiming that it helps burn more calories, but most people are salsa dancing at night. Instead of going fasted, eat lighter during the day and indulge in foods high in water content (think cucumbers and watermelon). As an added bonus, indulging in a late night snack post-salsa makes for an excellent end to the night!
- Ask for a club cool down! You’d be surprised how much you can get simply by asking. You might be speaking for a lot of people if you ask the club manager or owner to cool down the club. They might be able to adjust the temperature via air conditioning, fans, and manipulating ventilation. If nothing else, you’ll at least help draw attention to the fact that their patrons are uncomfortable.
- Slow down you moves. Obviously the faster and more vigorous you dance, the more you’ll speed up your heart beat. Take advantage of the slower songs, request them, and/or opt for moves that don’t require as much “oomph” to help keep your heart rate in check.
Sometimes, you have few options when it comes to salsa clubs, so you have to take what you can get. Just make sure you manage your heart rate and hydration as best you can. Keeping cool doesn’t just help keep you safe and healthy—it can also ensure you keep enjoying your hobby longer.