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Keep Fit Off the Pitch With Dance

Gavin Henson on "Strictly Come Dancing"

Gavin Henson on “Strictly Come Dancing”

Gavin Henson, Ben Cohen, Matt Dawson, Austin Healey and Martin Offiah have all done it on “Strictly Come Dancing”.

Although rugby and dance don’t normally get lumped together in the same conversation, the benefits of using dance to keep fit off the field far out way the embarrassment and provides an excellent way to keep your edge out of season. Plus it is just plain fun!

Just as skipping helps boxers to keep fit, rugby players can benefit from certain disciplines of dance. Once you can get over the girly stereotypes attached to dancing, you can understand the physical bonuses of finding your rhythm and giving dancing a try.

Check out this clip of the boys from Glee using dance to improve their performance in American Football. Or check out this clip of Matt Dawon’s quickstep.

So, which forms of dance can improve your rugby performance?


This Latin-inspired dance exercise is high-energy and a fun way to increase your cardio workouts. Usually lasting for an hour, this class will have you happy and sweating by the end, as if you have been bopping around in your favourite nightclub. Even if you have no rhythm, you can still get a decent workout from Zumba. As an effective interval-style, total-body workout, you can keep your fitness levels at a decent level until training starts again.


Although not exactly a weight lifting session at the gym, ballroom dancing works a multitude of muscle groups. You will see improvement in your torso and legs, helping to improve muscle tone and strength through repetition of movement.

You’ve seen the guys from Strictly Come Dancing, right? They are very impressive physical specimens, who can lift women over their heads with ease. As well as physical improvements, you will also benefit from better flexibility, improved balance and enhanced spatial awareness, all of which will aid you in your rugby performance.


Have you ever seen a fat ballerina or male ballet dancer? No. That’s because ballet is physically demanding on every muscle group.

The main benefits when ballet dancing is body control and balance. With ballet, you need to be aware of what every part of your body is doing. From the angle of your elbow, to the point of your toe, you need to be concentrated on clean lines and perfect movements. Requiring a deep sense of balance and stability, these attributes will help you in a variety of other sports.


Although not technically a dance form – apart from the rhythmic gymnastics element – gymnastics is a fantastic way to keep fit, with multiple benefits to your overall health. As a form of resistance training, you will see improvements in your joint health, cardiovascular fitness and muscular development.

The top gymnasts have amazing strength to weight ratios, making it possible for them to perform skills that seem humanly impossible. Increased flexibility is also a benefit of gymnastics training.


So, if you fancy giving one of these disciplines a go, with the intention of improving physical fitness and agility, you can easily find a local class through a simple internet search. Most classes will be more than happy to take you through the basics, and remember it’s never too late to start any dance or fitness activity.

Also, if you need any specialist clothing for men, Dancemania stock a great selection of men’s clothing and equipment for each of these dance forms, including gymnastics leotards designed especially for men.

About Ellaine

Ellaine is the founder of FRN and author of "Mini and Youth Rugby: Complete Guide for Coaches and Parents" (published October 2015). She has been playing rugby union for over 10 years in the UK and the US for teams including Oxford University Blues, London Wasps, Henley, NOVA, and GWU. She has recently developed a love for rugby 7s and has played on several international rugby 7s teams. She also enjoys playing touch rugby and regularly plays for the FRN Mixed Touch Rugby team. She is passionate about helping others develop a love for rugby. View all posts by Ellaine

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