Strictly Come Dancing is once again back on our television screens to provide some light-hearted Saturday night entertainment.
But for some it can be more than just a programme to watch on the box - it can actually encourage them to don their dancing shoes and start moving and getting active.
Dance has many benefits, including promoting a healthy heart and bones. It is even possible to lose a few pounds and confidence can be boosted by a new skill acquired.
The activity, like other forms of exercise, lifts your mood and therefore helps to reduce the risk of depression.
One dance craze that is sweeping the North East is Ceroc, a fusion of salsa and swing dancing that can get you fit and healthy in no time.
Great for people of all ages, it is seen as a good social evening and an alternative to what some would consider to be a ‘lonely’ gym workout.
Kerry Rutherford, franchise owner of Ceroc Newcastle and Gateshead said: “I can’t think of anything that didn’t appeal to me about Ceroc when I first started. I met new friends, learnt a new skill, got fit and very motivated.
“You can imagine how positive and confident I felt. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a different approach to getting fit.
“At Ceroc we give people with no dancing experience the ability to learn a fun partner dance, which is a fusion of salsa and swing.
“It’s easy to learn and because they are moved around throughout the class there is no need to bring a partner.
“Our crew and members are so friendly they have no reason to feel awkward or shy and they will very quickly not only learn the moves but also become part of a huge social circle.”
Ceroc has grown quickly throughout the region and further afield, as the steps are simple and easy to pick up.
Recently, the aerobic effects of dancing have been hitting the headlines, where a respected health website said: “Regular dancing will reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
“Dancing also helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis because the steps put a strain on your bones, helping them to stay strong and dense. The more dense your bones are, the longer your bones will remain strong and less likely to fracture if you should fall.
“Also the dips, turns and side-to-side movements in dance routines make good use of your muscles and joints, helping to delay the progression of osteoarthritis.”
Ceroc is a cardiovascular, aerobic activity so is recommended for anyone who wants to lose weight. Just 15 minutes of dancing at Ceroc can earn you two extra points at WeightWatchers.
The dancing is not repetitive, and the British Heart Foundation agrees that a Ceroc night is a great way to stay in shape and help keep a healthy heart. That is why they are supporting Ceroc in making people more aware of the benefit of dance as a regular form of exercise.
Liz Robinson, 34, a business intelligence developer, danced Ceroc throughout her pregnancy, and is also using it to help her lose weight almost four months after giving birth to her daughter.
The mother-of-two, of Kingston Park, Newcastle, said: “I have been doing Ceroc for one year, so I started before I got pregnant. But I was able to dance throughout my pregnancy and did so until three weeks before my daughter, Jessica, was born.
“The great thing about Ceroc is that it is up to you as to how much dancing you do.
“I know that when I had my son Daniel I put a lot more weight on than I did with Jessica, so dancing did help to keep me fit during that time.
“I really enjoy the dancing and I’ve never had to drag myself to a class as I really enjoy the social aspect of it too. I also found that my labour the second time around was also much easier and I didn’t get as out of breath.”
Mrs Robinson, who is married to Alex, 35, a product specialist, says dancing has definitely helped her to lose weight post-birth as she has shed more than one stone.
“I’m pretty much back to the weight I was and I’m happy with that,” she explained. “I just need to focus now on the toning-up side of things.
“I would definitely recommend people give Ceroc dancing a go. I can’t believe how much fun I have.”
In the UK alone there are more than 50,000 active Ceroc members and TV shows like Strictly Come Dancing boost new memberships significantly. At times, dance fanatics will even travel miles to take part in classes, so quickly their health and fitness levels improve.
Maggie Caney, a Unison branch administrator, of Gosforth, Newcastle, enjoys Ceroc so much that at one point she was dancing up to seven hours a week, reaping the health benefits.
The mother-of-one says she feels fitter now than she ever has, keeping up with people half her age.
“It’s great fun and there are lots of people of all ages and abilities who take part,” she explained. “I can’t wait to go to Ceroc as I really look forward to it. I don’t think age is important and I enjoy physical exercise, keeping fit and healthy.
“The music makes you think and introduce new moves, so it’s good for the body.”
Although the majority of those who do Ceroc do it for fun, some participants have got so good that they compete in the dancing at a national level.
Neil Bradley, who is head of finance at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, took up Ceroc for social reasons after he split from his partner.
The father-of-three, from Cramlington, Northumberland, now competes in national amateur dance competitions with his dance partner Helen Ramsden, and the pair travel all over the country.
“After I split up from my partner I was looking for a way to socially integrate,” explained Mr Bradley. “I heard about the dancing so I thought I’d give it a try. I loved it from day one and took to it like a duck to water. It has really helped me build up my strength and fitness levels.
“My job is very high pressured and stressful and in my mid-30s I had a rise in my blood pressure. Since I started dancing my blood pressure is now much lower and I feel as fit as I’ve been since I was in my mid-20s.
“Ceroc dancing is aerobics fitness and strength and people of all ages can do it.”
Ceroc fits in well with The Journal’s Great North Fitness Revolution campaign, aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of people in the region, as the North East was recorded as the second most obese area in Europe.
The Great North Fitness Revolution is challenging everyone to make a pledge to get active and make the positive changes that will lead to a better quality of life. From training for the Great North Run to something as simple as increasing the number of steps you walk each day, everyone can get involved.
Mike Ellard, owner of Ceroc, said: “Dancing removes all barriers. There is no community-based activity on this scale that is multi-cultural and multi-racial.
“At any Ceroc venue you are likely to find a builder, a doctor, a teacher and engineer – you name a profession and it will be represented at a Ceroc night.”
Ceroc nights take place at a variety of venues across the North East every week and cost .
On Tuesday classes take place from 8pm at Thomas Wilson Social Club, Chowdene Bank, Gateshead, and on Wednesdays people can go to Blackfriars Hall, Newbridge Street, Newcastle, from 7.30pm. Prices vary but can cost up to £8 for the evening. For more information visit www.cerocnewcastle.com or call Kerry Rutherford on 07801 912 844.