Written by editorial intern, Jennifer Fiorentino
For some of us, we watch Dancing with the Stars and think "I would need serious professional help to be able to dance that." DWTS pro Louis van Amstel has developed a dance fitness program, LaBlast, that lets even complete newbies learn the steps to the Cha Cha, Quickstep, the Merengue and more routines while working up a sweat. Dancing queen wannabes can find a class near them taught by instructors trained in van Amstel's program, or get stepping in their own living rooms with the LaBlast DVD series. We caught up with the pro to learn more about his program and his fitness motivation.
You are a three-time world dance champion, Emmy-nominated choreographer and spent seven seasons on DWTS. Did you ever dream of such success?
It's funny, after fulfilling my dream of becoming a world champion the first time, I realized that dreams are more like goals. If you work hard you can really achieve anything you want. Repeating the world champion title two more times only confirmed that sheer hard work can make dreams come true. After moving to the United States from Europe I felt I was in the right country to make even bigger dreams come true. Dancing with the Stars, my dance fitness program LaBlast, My active wear clothing line LVA are all dreams that became reality, because of dedication, goal setting, and a lot of intuition. Dreams can come true if you follow your gut! I can't believe I'm on dream number five. DREAM, PEOPLE! Set a goal and follow your heart!
What does dancing mean to you?
Dance has meant so many different things to me in the course of my career. At first all dance meant to me was nothing, because my (grand)parents wanted me to dance. It wasn't my choice. After doing my first competition a while later it light up a fire in me which made me see dance as a sport. It became about winning. Because of my growing up with alcohol abuse from my parents and their unhappy marriage, I used dance as therapy. I could express my feelings through dance, but didn't have to share my personal feelings with anyone. Thank god for dance. If it weren't for dance I probably would have ended up becoming an addict myself. Instead I chose dance to excel in, so you can imagine what dance has meant to me and always will!
Why did you decide to turn your LaBlast workout into a DVD series?
Being part of Dancing With The Stars from the beginning I realized that the celebrities get hooked on dancing. Dance becomes a lifestyle, because it makes you feel so good on many levels. It's addicting! The feeling of achieving the steps, the different cultures and characters of each dance make it such a thrill. Also, it makes women feel feminine and contributes to confidence and inner sexuality. Not to mention LaBlast gets people in the best shape of their lives, because dance uses the entire body, physically, mentally, and emotionally. After my season with Kelly Osbourne I decided it was time to create the LaBlast DVDs, so people at home can experience what all the celebs on DWTS go through each season. Anyone can dance and should experience the joy of dance. The benefits are endless!
How many calories can we expect to burn in one 30-minute session?
Depending on how involved you get people can burn between 300 and 600 calories. The more you get involved emotionally into LaBlast, the more calories you'll burn. Dance is all about getting into the meat and potatoes, haha, not just doing the steps correctly. Don't be afraid to go crazy and goof off, because it'll burn you more calories.
Besides getting in shape, what else can people gain from dancing?
Like I said earlier dance changes you from the inside out. Movement doesn't lie and helps you conquer feelings of fear, hardship, anger, etc. In return Lablast helps you not only losing weight, but also build confidence and helps you make you feel good about who you are as a person. Dance is universal, dance is very colorful, dance speaks any language, dance doesn't judge, dance encourages and that's exactly what I want for anyone who does LaBlast.
What is your favorite DVD of the series?
I really like them all, because the way I did them is like a journey. DVD 1 (Let's Dance) is very accessible for anyone that THINKS they can't dance. Then DVD 2 and 3 (Turn it up and Hot 'n Spicy) gradually adds more dances and choreography, but in a way it's easy to follow. DVDs 4 and 5 (Twist 'n Burn and Blast a Move) are all short, 15-minute workouts targeting the major body parts: upper body, waistline, and legs/butt. The way I filmed the tutorials is with the camera behind me, so it's easy to follow when you're watching the TV.
Do you have a fitness mantra or motto?
Yes, since we all like to eat my mantra is as long as I do fitness regularly and push myself to do things I haven't done before I can eat all I want. I have realized that the more I work out I feel so much better about myself, I want to be more aware of what I eat.
If you could give one fitness tip to our readers -- what would it be?
The more you work out the more you can get away with eating things you like! Also, many people forget that walking your dog or taking a stroll with a friend in the park is working out as well. Just do it regularly! But nothing beats dance, because you forget you're working out!