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  • Audrey Cleo

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    Dancercising… into the Olympics?

    Above: A recent sketch from Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele” featuring some sweet dancercising, outfits.

    Last week’s episode of “Key & Peele” featured a strangely dark – yet still hilarious – skit about a fake 1980s era dance aerobics competition gone terribly wrong. The whole spectacle – shot brilliantly in homage to the aerobic dance movement that hit a fever pitch in the ’70s and ’80s – is a blur of Spandex, headbands and pitch perfect goofball dancercising. The sketch led me down an Internet wormhole and to a YouTube video of the 1988 Crystal Light National Aerobic Championship opening sequence aka the video so effectively parodied by K&P:

    So much power! So many unitards! And that SONG!

    So, whither dance aerobics today?

    Aerobic dance started not long after Dr. Kenneth Cooper, a former Air Force Colonel, introduced the concept of aerobic exercise after developing military fitness tests and conducting extensive fitness research on some 5,000 military personnel in the 1960s. Cooper’s book, “Aerobics,” was published in 1968.

    Jazzercise – which is a still a thing – started in 1969 and is now taught in 32 countries. Countless dance aerobic programs have popped up since, although modern-day descendants tend to be sexier than their leg warmered ancestors: think ZumbaPole Dance Fitness, various barre-based classes and Tracy Anderson. There are countless other ways to booty-pop on DVD, online fitness portals and local gym schedules.

    And contrary to what the Key & Peele skit may suggest, competitive aerobic dance is not just some anachronistic dorkfest immortalized on YouTube. In fact, it could be an Olympic sport. The Association of National Aerobic Championships (ANAC) will hold its 26th International Championship event in San Diego in July 2015. In 2011, the ANAC added something called AeroDance to the competition mix.  Sportaerobics or aerobic gymnastics require athletes to perform choreographed 1 minute 45 second routines demonstrating, among other things, “cardiovascular endurance” and “power through continuous movement patterns” and looks like a combination of cheerleading and rhythmic gymnastics but with more push-ups. It also looks hard:

    Sportaerobics is already recognized by the IOC and, according to the ANAC website at least, is poised to make its debut on the Olympic stage in the future. It’s easy to laugh at the sparkly Spandex, perma-smiles and cheese factor that seems endemic to dance aerobics, but they just might be key to winning Olympic gold one day.

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    Comment from Kelly
    Time November 25, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Ski Ballet, an Olympic sport:

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