Getting Fit with the Flying Steps Break-Dance Troupe

Credit: Red Bull

The men and women who make up the break-dance troupe the Flying Steps can break it down and move in ways that we all wish we could every time we step on the dance floor. This isn’t the twist or the 1,2, step — we’re talking head spins, windmills, and handglide freezes.

The troupe, which is comprised of nine members of dancers and b-boys, was founded in 1993 — and has been throwing down at dance battles ever since. After claiming the world championship title, they’re taking a little break from battles and traveling around the world on tour with Red Bull’s Flying Bach show. The show fuses the Flying Steps’ street style, creative urban moves, and electronic beats with the piano, harpsichord, and classical composition of Sebastian Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier.

And while the show is a work of art, it doesn’t come without a lot of work in the gym. Every member of the Flying Steps is in top form, and they know a thing or two about fitness. “It’s not about working out to look good — it’s about working out to move well,” says Benny Kimoto, one of the original members of the crew. “You know, you see people in the gym lifting to make their chest and their arms look good… but we need to use our entire bodies. Everything has to be in shape, even the smallest muscles in our backs.”

That isolated strength leads to total-body fitness — and the dancers can feel the difference. “When I'm in good shape before a show, I feel more balanced, taller, and have better technique,” Anna Holmström, a member since 2013, says.

To experience break dancer–like strength in your own body, Uwe Donabauer (who has been b-boying for 15 years) suggests mastering a tried and true exercise that we all know to get you started. First, the original total-body torturer: the push-up. “It all starts with a regular push-up,” Donabauer says. “Then, as you feel strong and comfortable there, you move it to the wall and do handstand push-ups with your feet supported on the wall. Soon, you’ll be able to do an inverted push-up in a handstand position without the wall. You get stronger and graduate to the next thing.”

And unlike running a PR or maxing out on a rep, dancing and learning to use your body as a fitness tool is a never-ending quest. “I’ve been dancing more than 20 years, but I still feel like a student because there are so many moves and dance styles that you can learn so many things… it never stops,” Kimoto says. His workout advice? Move your body in every way possible, in every position possible. That means bear walk, crab walk, dynamic planks, jumping, split squats, tuck jumps, lunging, ducking — even just shuffling your feet as fast as you can. The only way to get better at moving your body is to move your body.

Getting b-boy fit isn’t as intimidating as it seems. But for those brave souls who want to learn how to break it down on the dance floor like the best of them, Holmström has one piece of advice: “If you enjoy dancing, go for it!”