This week’s step of change is about exercising. I am already in a good shape but I want to be in a better shape. I want to be fit and I want to reach my full physical capabilities. Therefore, I need to start training more hardcore!
I have lots of very good exercises from the time when I was still skating. We had professional physical trainers who helped us out based on our individual needs and in the process, I learnt quite a lot about different training methods, why they work and how they can be used together to strain your body in a versatile and healthy way.
Push ups, handstands, bridges, planking… Today’s theme was arms and static exercises. I have wanted to learn a hand stand for such a long time that now it is finally time to make it happen. And it really isn’t about anything else than just getting used to it because I am able to do it against the wall very well and sometimes stay in a real handstand for a little while too.
I think I did nearly 150 push ups – 15 of each variation. Wide, narrow, one arm, on a chair, fingers pointing in, fingers pointing out, on the balance board… I’ve never been a big fan of doing push ups so I need to try to make it interesting and fun for myself. Trying to figure out creative variations makes me forget a bit about the repetitions and I focus on the challenge of thinking instead. I even tried push ups while I was in a bridge. I ended up bumping my head to the floor a few times but it was still fun.
I get a lot of aerobic exercise while teaching and dancing (especially house dance) and that’s why I want to focus on other kinds of exercises. Dancers need power, speed and endurance just as every athlete needs them. We also need balance, flexibility and coordination. The fun thing is that you automatically work on all those things if you really train dancing. But I believe, that it is still necessary to work on them separately – especially if the lack of some quality makes it more difficult to learn something in dance. Also, developing these qualities prevents injuries and your body won’t get used to just certain type of strain.
I did the second hardcore exercise of the week after teaching. I’ve always been flexible but I want to be even more so and develop my ability not just to stretch but to be able to “do stuff” with my flexibility. In other words, I want to be like a gymnast or a ballerina – flexible and strong. You know the way a ballerina can just raise her leg very high without helping with the hands? That kind of stuff.
Right now, I don’t know of a better way of gaining that kind of ability but to start doing it as well as I can. This means trying to stay in the positions as long as possible. In practice: I grab my leg, take it as high as I can, find balance and, stay there. When I start feeling like I can’t anymore, I let go of my leg and try to resist it coming down. And the other way around: starting from the ground, I take my leg up as high as I can get it without helping with my hands, losing a good posture or letting my leg turn inwards. Using all the ballet exercises I know from the years of dancing it, is really good workout. So far I haven’t found anything as effective as ballet to learn to understand the outline of your body and how it works. I’m dreaming of going back to ballet classes when I have time for it.
I was quite exhausted after two hours of this kind of work out. I maintained a slow tempo and didn’t do many repetitions because the goal was to keep one position until I couldn’t anymore.
Today’s work out was basically dancing. The goal was to push my stamina and go beyond the point when I felt like I couldn’t continue. It was the perfect weekend for this because one of the dance schools I teach in had a camp for all the competing teams which meant hours and hours of teaching for me. On Saturday, I started at 8:30 am and finished at 7:30 pm and today I started at 9 am and the session after teaching finished at 9 pm.
When the session started, I was already on the edge. Taking the stairs up felt like mission impossible but somehow I still made it. I’m glad that music and the other dancers always help me to find whatever bits of energy I still have left in me, and so they did this time. After every run (after every time I danced on my turn) I was certain that I wouldn’t enter anymore. But then came the next great song or some one else exceeded, and I just had to jump in. I was literally dead afterwards. And I was happy. I hadn’t given up even though on some standards I had a good reason to.
This kind of mentality is extremely important. Do not give yourself an excuse. Find reasons to push your limits from anywhere and everywhere. That is the only way to make progress.