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how to dance if you're fat

For me, dancing is all about that carefree feeling that you have when your body is moving in tune with the music and you’re really just having a great time. As someone who carries extra weight, though, the thought of dancing was definitely intimidating at first.

And the thought of dancing in public, in front of other people? Forget about that.

Fortunately, I’ve come a long way since then, both in my dancing skills and confidence. While I won’t say that I’ll probably ever go out clubbing with the girls or get up and perform a dance routine on a stage, I can dance with confidence at home, at weddings, and even when there are a few other people around.

Learning how to dance when you’re fat is more about doing what makes you most comfortable and expressing yourself through the music. While knowing a few dance moves doesn’t hurt, at the end of the day, it’s all about having a fun, enjoyable time.

Below, we’ll take a look at how to dance when you’re fat, from tips and dance moves to having the right attitude and the confidence to show your stuff. I’m going to give you some tips on how to dance for fun, as well as how to dance for fitness or performance, as they are two very different styles of dance. Let’s jump in!

How to Dance When You’re Fat (for Fun)

Dancing for fun is something that I highly recommend for everyone, fat or not. You can dance in the club, at weddings, and even at home by yourself or with your partner! There aren’t really any rules when it comes to dancing for fun and as long as you are having a good time, that’s really all that matters.

That being said, it’s really easy to get caught up in the idea that you shouldn’t dance because your body looks a certain way. This couldn’t be further from the truth, there are tons of dance styles suited to the plus-size man and woman and I’ve even heard that women who are curvier look more provocative, just because they have curves in all the right places and dance is a great way to celebrate that.

Let’s take a look at some tips that will help you get moving, whether you’re out on the dancefloor or dancing around the house.

Take a Look at Your Influences for What Looks “Right”

If we take an honest look at things, the media does a great job at glorifying the thinner, younger body, especially when it comes to dancers. If you do take the time to look though, you will find lots of plus-size dancers. They are out there and they aren’t afraid to be seen- they just don’t always get the same exposure as thinner, more media-friendly bodies.

While I don’t spend a ton of time on social media, something that has helped is following some of those plus-sized Goddesses that grace social platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Seeing someone who has a body like mine out there being bold and confident and not being afraid to show some skin or dance around online has done wonders for helping me accept my body as the beautiful piece of art that it is, too.

The reality of dance is that your body won’t look the same as thinner people performing the same moves- but that should be a celebration. Bigger bodies have lots of curves and all that movement is really well suited to certain dance styles.

Plus, when you’re dancing for fun, your focus really shouldn’t be on what looks “right” anyway. There is really no wrong way to dance. It’s a form of self-expression, just like art. That means that there isn’t really a “wrong” way to go about it. Just do what makes you feel happy!

Learn to Feel the Music

I’ll be honest. When I’m at home and there’s music playing, whether I’m folding laundry, making dinner, or laughing with my husband after a few drinks at night, I don’t really pay much attention to how it looks when I’m dancing. After all, I’m having fun and the carefree nature of dancing really is about turning off the idea that you have to move a certain way and just enjoying yourself.

While I’ll dance to almost anything, some songs just have that little something extra that makes you want to wiggle. It’s really up to your preference as far as the beat, but I’ve found tons of genres that really make me want to move. When you’re dancing for fun, play those songs that do that for you!

Start with Low-Impact Dancing

While there’s nothing wrong with jumping in as much as you feel comfortable, if you are new to dancing, then low-impact dances are a great place to start. By low-impact, I mean dances that don’t require you to stomp your feet or jump around or do anything that might be too strenuous on your joints. Belly dancing, twerking, bachata, and even pole dancing are great places to start.

Belly dancing uses the muscles in your core and involves moving your hips around in a fluid motion, usually while making figure 8s or shimmying up and down.

Twerking is also a great option, as it mostly involves shaking your butt by pushing it out and bending at the knees. It’s a little controversial because of how sexualized the movements can be, but it’s easy to keep it lighthearted by not making it the only move that you do.

Bachata is a form of dance done with a partner but the moves are pretty simple. It involves putting your hands on your partner’s hips and taking steps forward and back as you sway in between.

Finally, pole dancing is something that has a great learning curve. With the support of the pole, it’s easy to get into different positions with your body. Plus, it’s a great way to feel sensual and boost your confidence naturally!

Practice Good Dancing Posture

You significantly reduce your risk of injury while dancing by having proper posture. Even when dancing for fun, things like keeping your back straight and making sure steps when you move your feet prevent things like back injuries and rolled ankles.

As an added benefit, good dancing posture really engages your muscles more as you perform the different movements. Engaging the muscles in your abdomen, back, hips, and core gives you an all-over workout and strengthens your muscles over time.

Even if you aren’t dancing with the intent to lose weight, being active always comes with its benefits. We’ll talk about those more thoroughly a little later in the article.

Know That You Look Good Because of Your Weight and Not In Spite of It

One of the things I really had to work to break the habit of was looking at myself and thinking, “Wow, I look great dancing even though I’m fat”. Even though this is slightly more positive than what my internal monologue usually was regarding my weight, it still has that negative undertone that sends the message that curvier women just aren’t as beautiful as thinner ones when it comes to dancing.

That being said, there are a lot of styles of dance where curves are not just accepted, but appreciated. Get in the habit of loving the way that your body jiggles and wiggles as you move to the music and know that you look great because of your curves, not in spite of them.

How to Dance When You’re Fat (for Fitness or Performance Dancing)

Dancing has lots of physical benefits and there’s nothing wrong with making it your go-to method of exercising if you are trying to become stronger, get healthier, or even lose weight.

That being said, if you’re just getting started, you might only be able to do performance dancing on a more local level. A lot of professional dancers have been dancing since they were 4 or 5 and it requires a ton of mental and physical discipline.

There’s nothing wrong with performing at your local studio, a performance studio, or even a talent show, though! If you love it, do it for you! Here are some tips to get you started.

Just Get Moving…

As far as fitness dancing goes, the most important thing you can do is just start moving. Like with dance for self-expression, there really is no wrong way or right way to dance if you are just looking for some general fitness benefits. What matters most is that you are moving and being physically active.

That being said, there is nothing wrong with a targeted workout either. If you have specific fitness goals, try looking up moves that will help you tone those specific muscle groups and incorporate them into your dance routine.

And Make it Fun

Personally, I find that having fun is one of the best ways to stay fit. Whether I’m hiking and checking out the views with my husband, ice skating with a group of friends, or dancing around the house, having fun makes it easy to stay active and stay healthy.

That being said, find a type of dance that you’re passionate about, throw on some music, and get moving. The only wrong way to dance is to get so caught up in how you look that you forget to enjoy yourself.

Take a Dancing Class

When you weigh a little more, taking a dance class is something that might seem intimidating, especially if it’s your first time trying anything like that. I experienced that when I decided to step out of the box and try out the pole dancing class that a friend had got for me as a gift. And in case you were wondering, yes, plus-size women can pole dance, too!

Something that I will say is that the culture of the dance studio and the teacher’s experience really play a big role in your experience. With pole dancing, I find it’s really about empowerment and the community is really supportive for people of all body shapes. Having an experienced teacher that’s accepting and knowledgeable about dancing for different body types really helps, too!

I find the real benefit of a dancing class as opposed to learning from those tutorials online is that there’s someone there who can help you learn the best way to move your body. That being said, remember that your plus-size body isn’t necessarily going to look exactly the same as all the other dancers in the room unless you find a plus-size dancing company like the one in this YouTube video.

Don’t expect it to! Instead, embrace the body you have and focus more on learning the proper movements as opposed to what you think your body should look like.

Start at Home if a Dancing Class is a Big First Step

I definitely understand if a dance class is something that is intimidating. Like places like the gym or the beach, it’s easy to feel excluded when you don’t see tons of bodies that are shaped like yours.

Having the confidence to get out there is something that hopefully becomes easier with time. If you’re really struggling though, one alternative is to get started at home. There are a lot of videos that will teach you different styles of dance or fitness dancing classes that you can try online.

That being said, there’s also no reason that you have to follow any specific routine when it comes to dancing for fitness. It’s all about getting your body moving to experience the benefits.

Practice, Practice, Practice

If there’s any single thing that you can do to make your performance dancing better, it’s getting enough practice. As people with curvier bodies, it’s easy to shy away from the mirror or get caught up in that little bit of extra jiggle that we have while dancing. That being said, practicing in the mirror is one of the best ways to see what we are doing with our bodies and make changes.

I also want you to remember that it’s really easy to get caught up in trying to look “right” as far as dancing and if we don’t, then we blame it on our weight. Truthfully though, weight has nothing to do with arm and leg extensions, how much you engage your core while dancing, and how fluid your movements are. You don’t need to lose weight to look good doing these things, you just need a little more practice.

Be Confident in Your Body

If you aren’t confident in your body, it’s going to be apparent in the way that you move and probably in your facial expression, too. While confidence is something that’s easier said than done sometimes, it’s also something that you can build by being happy with your progress as you dance, have fun, and feel good in your own skin.

The plus-size body can do tons of amazing things, especially because your weight really doesn’t mean anything when it comes to physical strength, flexibility, fluidity, stamina, and all those other things that really matter when it comes to dancing.

Yes, some things are a little bit harder when you’re bigger. But that means that the payoff and that sense of accomplishment that you’ll feel as you see the amazing things your body can do with practice is bigger, too.

Does Being Overweight Make Dancing Harder?

To an extent, yes, being overweight can make dancing a little more difficult than it is for the average person. To start with, any type of physical activity tends to make plus-sized people hot and being hot means that we are going to sweat. Of course, there are plenty of ways to manage sweat and thin people sweat too, but it can be embarrassing.

In addition to sweat, there’s the challenge that comes along with avoiding injury. For me, foot placement is always something I pay attention to because as someone who carries extra pounds, I’m more prone to ankle fractures. While fat people generally also are strong because of their muscles from carrying weight, the joints don’t have this same build-up of strength overtime so they can still be weak.

Finally, dancing is a physical activity that requires movement, flexibility, and a little bit of stamina. Like all physical activities, however, there’s also a learning curve as you learn how to dance as a fat person. Basically, the more you work at it, the longer you’ll be able to dance without straining yourself and the more fluid your movements are going to become.

That being said, all these challenges are things that you shouldn’t let hold you back. Fat people can dance! And not only can you, you absolutely should! Often, extra weight just gives you more to wiggle and there are tons of dance styles that celebrate how well people can wiggle their bodies.

What Styles of Dance Are Best for Curvy Women and Bigger Men?

When you’re dancing for fun, there isn’t really a “best” style. I’m someone who prefers something a little more freestyle and there’s probably a lot of hip movement, stepping, shaking, and just enjoying myself while I’m around the house.

Like I mentioned earlier, though, low-impact styles of dance that don’t put a lot of strain on your body are a great place to start. Plus, when you choose the pace of the music, you can control how fast you are dancing and build your stamina over time as well.

Hip-hop style dancing is another type that’s pretty body-positive and includes bigger men and curvier women. As I mentioned earlier, I also found that the pole dancing community in my area was pretty inclusive and body positive.

There are also a lot of styles of dancing that require a partner. Something slower like ballroom dancing is a great place to start but there are honestly tons of other more fast-paced dancing styles like the Rumba that don’t require any lifts or anything too complicated either. Plus, there are beginner-level classes that make it easy for anyone to get started really.

All that aside, you should really dance however you want. If you want to learn ballet or tap dance or even salsa, then do that! Including your partner or a friend is also a great option, whether you’re participating in a dance class for partners or just want to bring them along for fun (and a boost of confidence).

What Are Some of the Benefits of Dancing for Plus-Size Bodies?

Dancing is something that doesn’t require any equipment and this makes it really easy to do anywhere. Whether you’re dancing for fitness or dancing for fun, it’s an aerobic exercise that burns calories, gets your blood pumping, and builds muscle. As you continue to dance, you’ll also notice that your fluidity, flexbility, and range of motion improve with time.

Like any type of physical activity, there are also benefits for your heart and cardiovascular health when you get your blood pumping, like lower blood pressure and decreased risk of heart attack or stroke. Dancing can also help you build stamina over time, so if you start with easier moves you’ll be ready for faster-paced styles of dancing in no time.

On top of the physical benefits, that exerted energy is great for releasing stress and helping you get a better night of sleep. This, paired with the confidence boost you get from knowing you look great as you shake it can really improve mental health. Plus, anyone can do it!

Final Word

Dancing is something that is made for everyone and since there’s no equipment, there is no reason that you shouldn’t be up and shaking it. Even if you only dance around the house, it’s a great way to break up day-to-day tasks and make life enjoyable again.

For people who want to dance for fitness or get formal training, there’s no reason that you can’t! Whether you take a class or teach yourself at home, you’d be surprised what your body is capable of (and how great you look doing it).

Now that you know a little more about how to dance when you’re fat, I really hope to see more curvy bodies out there moving it!

Camila R.

Camila is a body positive blogger and fat activist that's focused on helping people of all sizes live life big! That means accepting yourself at any size and just enjoying life! She lives in New Mexico with her husband and two chihauhuas.

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