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Dancing is an enjoyable workout

Rhonda Beckham

Last weekend, I experienced the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. I went to Paris, Ireland and New York. If it hadn’t been at South Tahoe High School’s small theater, I could have imagined I was on Broadway.

Marcia Sarosik’s 25th Anniversary Spring Recital was outstanding. For the Saturday matinee, there were 29 numbers with as many different costume changes.

As I watched my daughter, Dayna, perform in the Perfect Princess Tea and Double Dutch Bus dances, I was reminded how dance is good for the body and soul.

She beams onstage. I wonder where she gets it from.

Most folks I know claim they don’t know how to dance. I always call them on it and explain they may not know how to dance like others do, but if you are breathing, you can dance.

Most people, especially men, feel uncomfortable on the dance floor. Though clearly this was not true of the dads in the last dance of the recital, Daddy Goes Country. That was so touching, my eyes filled with tears.

If you’re dancing with me and you hesitate on the steps, I most often (some would say always) lead. It’s probably hysterical to watch me spin my boyfriend, Nick, on the dance floor. Equality, baby. I’ve been known to make my friends feel a little uncomfortable at local venues, but it’s all for good fun and therapy.

Dance is one of those enjoyable activities that works your body but doesn’t seem like a workout. You can burn 400 to 600 calories per hour, depending on the type of dance.

If you want to get into the groove, follow these eight dance tips from About.com. No matter what your level of experience, these tips will help you to become a better dancer and pay attention to the physical results of regular dancing.

— Find a great instructor. Experienced dancers know the importance of a good dance instructor. A dance teacher not only teaches new steps and techniques, but also corrects mistakes. If you are new to dance, choose your instructor carefully. If you have been taking lessons for a while and don’t seem to be improving, consider looking around for a different teacher. The more you dance, the more you realize what qualities you prefer in a dance instructor.

Anne Thennes at Lake Tahoe Community College leads a World Rhythms dance class that makes my heart rate soar. I feel transformed when my tribalness comes alive. As Anna Mcleod once described it, it’s pure joy. I like the way Anne encourages students to create their personal flow.

— Watch other dancers. Rent a few dance movies or instructional DVDs. Watch the dancers closely, noting such things as body alignment, posture and technique. Try to find ways to incorporate styles you like into your own dancing.

— Perfect your posture. Stand up straight, push your shoulders down and back, and hold your head up. It’s truly amazing what good posture does for a dancer.

— Stretch. Daily stretching will make your body much more flexible. A big goal in dancing is to make each move look effortless. The more limber your legs are, the easier it will be to move them. Make it a habit to stretch every day.

— Improve your technique. Professional dancers spend their entire careers perfecting their technique. Good technique is what separates the good dancers from the best dancers. Learn new moves but strive to perfect the skills of each step.

— Wear proper shoes. Each dance style requires a specific type of shoe. Dance shoes are carefully structured to protect the legs and feet, and to benefit the dancer. Make certain that you are dancing in the correct type of shoe and that the shoes are the right size.

— Relax. Your body will dance its best in a relaxed state. Take a few deep breaths and clear your mind. Teach yourself to unwind to the music.

— Smile. A smile is an expression of pleasure, happiness or amusement. If you smile while you are dancing, people will get the feeling that you love what you are doing. Even if you are dancing alone, smile at yourself. You love to dance, so let it show.

I have a small marble engraved plaque in my living room that reads “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching.” I do, and you should, too.

– Rhonda Beckham is a nationally certified personal trainer with teaching certificates in Pilates and kickboxing.


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