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Getting a great workout through salsa dancing

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By AUDREY PUENTE

NEW JERSEY (MYFOXNY.COM ) -- I threw on my salsa shoes and hit the dance floor to take part in one intense workout minus the gym.

"We're going to be doing some floor shines, incorporate some cardio movements, some isolations, some hips some body rolls some shoulders just so we can promote more health consciousness when we're dancing," Mario B. said.

Mario runs Salsa Fever on 2 Dance Academy in Jersey City, where I got a chance to bust some moves and work up a sweat along with Fox 5's Ines Rosales.

This may be a fun way to stay fit, but if you think it looks easy, think again.  Mario actually compares his dance classes to swimming because this idea of salsa aerobics engages your whole body.

"We always like to focus more on the isolations of the shoulders, your torso, your hip muscles, your head -- so slowly but surely we like to work from the head down," Mario said.

And the upbeat Latin music makes sure to keep your body moving.

"You can burn upwards from 300 to 500 calories per song and that beats running on a treadmill going nowhere," he said.

In fact during a 90-minute class salsa dancers take an average of about 10,000 steps, the equivalent of walking about 5 miles.

After a while I caught on and it became clear to me why people choose to turn these dance moves into exercise.

"I actually lost a lot of weight doing this so it was a great thing for me to start doing," said Jennifer Ramos, who lost 60 pounds with salsa. She said the best part is that it's fun!

"I'm dancing, I'm sweating, before I realize it I'm two hours into it and my shirt's drenched and it's so much fun you don't even realize that you're working out," Jennifer said.

And at the root of salsa is a movement that is truly bringing people together.

"It definitely unites a lot of the cultures -- Columbian, Dominican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Mexican -- and it really gives everyone the opportunity to involve and infuse all categories of just dancing and styles," Mario said.

A style Mario said is sure to bring you on your way to fat free -- or pretty close to it!

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