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Dancer at a Gym

A Dancer is a known not only for their grace, passion and their dedication for the art but also for their fabulous body. This magnificent body that a dancer possesses is all because of the hard exercises they put themselves through. Dancers fitness training is just like that of an athlete.

Wonder if you all known Latin and Ballroom dancing has been accepted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as a form of Sport, popularly known as ‘DanceSport’. In India, All India DanceSport Federation (AIDSF) is the prime body that looks after the interest of the Indian dance athletes, as the technical director of AIDSF, I have been meeting so may dancers from all over India and I feel that one place we dancers lack from the dancers internationally is the way our bodies look.

We need to get more serious about our shape and workout at the gym, do yoga, pilates, swim, follow a great diet plan and all that matter to get the perfect shape. Along with that yes dance and practice that is most important too. Being a dancer and a representative of the country is like a full time job, so better get serious with it.

Young dancers love to practice and put hours in their rehearsals but when it comes to hitting the gym, laziness sets in and even if they do reach the gym, it becomes more of a chatting space and making friends area. For them it is a place to hang out, catch up with friends, grab a healthy shake and yes, also get some exercise.

But do you give a thought for safety, or the correct use of the gym equipment? Please do not ever make the mistake of using gym equipment in a casual manner. You could injure yourself and end up with back and joint problems for life and this will result in no dance forever too.

After overseeing hundreds of young dancers, observing how they go about their forced gym routine and finally talking to my dear friend and fitness expert Shalini Bhargava of JG’s Fitness centre in Santacruz, Mumbai, I have listed out 10 dos and don’ts that a dancer must keep in mind.

Do’s:

Do have a spotter on standby:
Whether you like to live by yourself or go gymming with a buddy dancer, ensure a safe workout you must be supervised by a spotter/trainer/instructor. A spotter also offers constructive guidance or training techniques and much needed words of encouragement. Like your dance guru did when you practiced for hours.

Do breathe right:
Breathing is a crucial component of fitness training and is especially important for weight training, yoga, pilates, swimming, etc. When you weight train the correct breathing technique is: exhale when you exert and inhale when you release muscles tension. Remember when we dance we breath normally as that’s what dance demands same way a fitness program has its own style of breathing technique so follow that.

Do Warm up well:
Before the real workout begin moving the body, rotating the joints and stretching the muscles is very important so that the body gets ready and prepares well for the exercise it will get. Many dancers just reach the workout place and start the exercise without warming up resulting in aches and pains later. Before starting any dance practice all dancer pray, think that warm up is like a prayer, it is a must.

Do drink lots of water:
When you exercise, you lose body fluids due to perspiration just like dance. To replenish those fluids, you need water. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your exercise routine, to keep your body from getting dehydrated, just as we do when we do loads of dance rehearsals.

Do progress gradually:
The intensity of your workout routine must build up over the period of time, so do not rush it. It is best to progress step by step and gradually prepare one’s body for more strenuous exercise. Just as you did from, your first dance class till date. A rule of the thumb is, increase the intensity, or weight, by 5 to 10 per cent at a time. This way you do not end up with injuries because of over training.

Do eat well:
Healthy eating and exercising go hand in hand. Only if you eat healthy will you have the necessary energy to exercise, be active and dance with zest and vigour too – as simple as that.

Do have fun:
Your fitness routine at the gym is all about enjoying what you do, remember it is going to help you achieve your dancing goals. Try different kinds of exercises to keep your interest levels and work towards building a great stress – buster routine.

Do not:

Do not compare or compete:
There’s no point wasting trying to be something you’re not. You have your own unique genes, so what works for another dancer friend may not work for you. Instead stand by your goals and work towards achieving your objectives. Just the way your initial days of dance training.

Do not compromise on posture when you chat:
If you are in a habit of talking while exercising, beware! Remember right form and technique is everything. It protects the joints and safeguards the body from exercise trauma. So if you are too busy chatting, you tend to get distracted and this leads to wrong techniques, or jerky movements, both of which can cause serious injury. Working out is like dancing in many ways, concentration is important in both.

Do not forget to stretch/ cool down:
The best time to stretch is immediately after the exercise session, while the body is still warm, stretching increases flexibility and relaxes the muscles. The rules are followed in dance, after a practice we stretch, so why leave it after a workout?

Do not use reel models in real life:
The truth is real people leading real lives cannot look the same as those who live in reel like existence. So there is nothing wrong in aspiring for a slimmer shaped body like size zero of Kareena Kapoor, Shiela’s figure of Katrina Kaif or Hrithik’s ripped muscles, but always keep things in perspective and do not overdo it. Remember camera, lighting and make up plays lots of tricks too. Just like on stage a dancers costumes, make up, jewellery, sets and lights enhance the performance, similarly the reel models look ideal because of many other factors too.

An artist, a dancer is said to be the most dedicated person, so remember to achieve your goal as a dancer being fit is extremely important and any kind of fitness activity helps to come closer to your goals. So next time you are working out keep the aims as a dancers in front of your eyes and on top your mind and try your best to grab it with both hands and see the change it will soon bring to your dance performance.

Artscape By Sandip Soparrkar

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