DANCING FOR HEALTH

 

By Jennifer Holmes

 

††††††††††† I hate doing exercises just because people say itís good for me.After being a professional ballerina for over 26 years, I understand what motivates me and itís not just movement for the sake of exercise and fitness.What I did on a daily basis was dedication to fine tuning an imperfect instrument to visually describe the visions and emotions heard in music.Music is what inspired me to move.

††††††††††† Yet there were other types of movement that I enjoyed such as Tae Kwondo (the art of kickboxing), Tai Chi, and Country Western dancing.Ballroom dancing would have been a lot of fun as well but I never got to that.

††††††††††† I was very lucky to grow up physically fit in the 1960s, as we didnít have video games back then and computers were just barely on the scene.That meant that I was always active whether it was in dance class or if I was out riding my bicycle around the neighborhood in Washington, D.C.Nowadays, kids are watching TV, playing the latest video game, or surfing the web, perhaps hanging out in online chat rooms.Even adults have succumbed to this and I do believe that is why we have a society dealing with increasing obesity problems.

††††††††††† During a time when I worked as a market researcher and data analyst, I sat at a desk for eight hours a day. Then Iíd go home and sit some more at the computer, either finishing up work or playing on the net.I must confess I gained nearly 30 pounds over four and a half years.As soon as I got a different job that required my walking around a store and talking to customers, I lost the weight.

††††††††††† What I have understood about myself and my reason for moving is that I have to want to move for a good reason and I have to be inspired to do so.With ballet, it was the music and portraying many different characters on the stage which was so much fun for me.I lasted longer than most in the business but even at 35 years of age, it was time for me to remove myself from the stage before it was too late.I never wanted to hang on too long.The ballet requires too much precision from the body, and itís almost impossible to maintain past a certain age, no matter how well one is trained.

††††††††††† Everyone has to find that which motivates them to move, whether itís in aerobics class, swimming laps in a pool, playing tennis, running marathons.It is more than just knowing it will make a person more physically fit and healthy, but that it is fun, almost a passion that has to be fed nearly every day.Only when there is passion and desire to move in a chosen way, will there be success in attaining and maintaining a physically fit and healthy body.

††††††††††† If you, like me, find ordinary work-outs boring, but enjoy the grace and energy of dance, or simply have a good sense of rhythm, here are a few suggestions on how you can stay fit without going to the gym and have fun doing it too Ė on the dance floor:

        Look in the Yellow Pages to see who offers ballroom dancing or any other kind of dancing you might enjoy learning.Then go regularly and give it all you got!When youíve learned enough to feel comfortable about being in public, then find some local ballroom clubs and start going to those.Itís also a great way to meet new people and network with those having similar interests.

        Contact your local YMCA or YWCA, or the adult extension evening programs at local high schools and community colleges, for dance class schedules.Some of these may even be offered for free as part of a community service program.

        Local professional dance companies usually have connected schools thatoffer beginning, intermediate, and advanced adult dance classes. Check out their schedules and pricing.†† Many of these classes are taught by the companyís top performing artists and it gives you a chance to know them on a more personal basis.

        Check with your church to see if they give dance classes.If not, maybe you can suggest to the events director that the church start a class.It would be a great way to expand church membership, too.

Whichever way youstart learning dance, have fun doing it and donít think about how you look out there.Move outside of your box.Everyone is in the same boat and itís all about having fun!