Fitness Tips I Learned From Dance

balletdancerBeing fit should be fun!
Many of us might dread exercise instead of viewing it as an opportunity to have a good time, to enjoy taking care of our bodies, and to move for the fun of it. Dancers know that even though a dance class is a great workout, most of all, it is fun! Move to the music, shake your hips, and let your cares go!

Try it: Do whatever it takes to find a form of movement that you love to do. That might mean signing up for that zumba or kickboxing class or joining a softball team. Maybe it means you need to go walking and get some quality time with a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with. It’s essential to find for yourself what puts the fun back in fitness!

Engage your core
Ballerinas and other dancers are ripped. Some don’t give dance credit for being a sport, but no one can argue that it is a great physical activity–ballet, too! Regardless of the pace of a song, dancers are working hard through every move. It’s what the audience can’t see that really matters; all muscles are engaged at all times. This idea transfers to all kinds of fitness–yoga, running, cycling, swimming, plyometrics, and all types of aerobic workouts.

Try it: If you spend 20 minutes on the elliptical or treadmill, take your workout to the next level by flexing your core muscles while you run. Focus on keeping your hips facing forward and controlling your midsection. Suck it in, and engage that core!

Good posture goes a long way
A dancer with good posture will always look better than a dancer who lets her shoulders slouch. Good posture–sitting up straight, keeping your chin up, pulling the shoulders back–is good for more than your spine. Of course, there are physical benefits to sitting up straight including reducing tension headaches and building stronger core muscles, but the psychological implications are there, too. Research appearing in the October 2009 issue of the European Journal of Social Psychology showed that students told to sit up straight while completing a self-evaluation scored themselves higher than students left alone to slouch, showing a positive correlation between good posture and self-confidence. Furthermore, good posture silently communicates to others that you are a confident person.

Try it: Pay attention to your body. If you are sitting at a desk, be aware of where you’re looking. Look higher and slightly lift your chin to give your posture a boost. Write it on a sticky note and put it just above eye level to remind yourself! If you’re hanging out with friends, don’t let that coffee shop couch get the best of your sitting stance. Elongate your spine. Your shoulders should be relaxed but not slouching. Your back, neck, and confidence will thank you.

Stretching is essential
Lots of people workout without stretching. Dancers wouldn’t dream of it. In an hour long dance class, stretching and warming up can take up 20-30 minutes! Stretching doesn’t just increase flexibility, it’s also improves circulation, balance, coordination, and even cardiovascular health. Stretching also improves recovery time after activity, and will help prevent injuries during.

Try it: After your workout warm-up and after your cool-down, stretch the muscles you’re exercising, holding each position still (without bouncing) for 15-20 seconds. It’s important to listen to your body and not force it to go further. The best flexibility comes from consistency, not the feeling of muscles ripping! It’s even important to stretch throughout the day when you aren’t active. When you’re at work, take short breaks to bend side-to-side with arms stretched overhead and to bend over to touch your toes. You may find periodic stretching will keep you from fighting productivity lows and the 3 o’clock Zzzs.

Do it “full out”
To dancers, doing a move “full out” means go big or go home. There’s no point in attempting a pirouette if you’re not going to give it your all; you’ll fall over! One of the biggest corrections beginning dancers receive is to let go, and open their arms. If the move is supposed to be big, make it big! Don’t hold back! This idea correlates to many types of fitness–calisthenics, aerobics, kickboxing, yoga, zumba. Hold that pose with confidence; sit into that squat all the way. Push yourself (within reason of course) and make your moves count.

Try it: The next time you workout, focus carefully on your body and its movements. Kinesthetic awareness helps you to feel the proper way to do a push-up or warrior pose. Do those movements c o m p l e t e l y, fully, and all the way, so that when you look at yourself in the mirror, your moves look like they belong on the cover of a fitness magazine!

Originally posted 2013-01-31 03:40:00.

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