Last year I began taking salsa classes. I was shy and overweight. Now I am far less shy and the correct weight- approximately a year after getting into salsa. There has been a steady improvement in my weight, fitness and shyness over the past year.
I have been reading self improvement books and tried cycling more often, but I believe salsa dancing has had the biggest effect. It is the compound effect (I got this from one of the books I read), which is like the snowball effect. The more I socialised, the easier it became. When you go to salsa classes and then salsa socials, you will get asked to dance by strangers. You will soon find it easy to ask others to dance too. Then you can't help but make friends with regulars.
Salsa dancing isn't an extreme exercise, but apparently we should be doing natural movements rather than intensive gym work. This is something else I have learned from a self help book I read this year (Blue Zones). Although my weight loss has been slow, it has been noticeable- which kept me interested in regular attendance at classes.
Besides the two benefits above, salsa has introduced me to the amazing world of Latin music. I have become a big fan of Buena Vista Social Club, The Fania Allstars, Antonio Carlos Jobim and many more Latin artists and bands. I have amassed a rather impressive collection of albums from Cuban jazzy salsa to smooth Brazilian bossanova.
Being a resident of Manchester in the UK, the weather is usually grey skies and regular rain. There is just something about Latin music which makes me feel more upbeat and happy. It is summery music and is ideal to lift my mood. I used to use the best of Madness, but that one CD has been very over played in my car. Now I have 20+ Latin albums to choose from too. All good vibes- making me feel like it is summer and reminding me of the fun I have at salsa classes and socials.
I highly recommend salsa dancing to anyone who wants a new hobby. Especially if you are like me and overweight and/or shy. It is a hobby literally for all ages. I have seen kids dancing to salsa and OAPs. Give it a try and you too may also get a new lease of life. Just look in your local paper or better still find a website listing classes in your area e.g. I typed in Salsa classes Manchester and got a website listing all salsa classes and socials in and around my region. Generally the prices are very fair and the standard is good (in terms of teachers and venues), at least in Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire.