This is a guest blog post by Liz Fink Rakoski, Liz is a full-time professional dance teacher, choreographer, and performer. She is in her third year as Dance Faculty at the University of Delaware, where she teaches courses for students ranging from beginner to advanced. Liz holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Shenandoah Conservatory.
Want to feel good, walk down the street with swagger, AND get into great shape? If so, you might want to consider “dropping it like it’s hot” a few times a week.
Dancing is a surprising good way of improving overall fitness and health, and spending time working on your moves can result in significant improvements to coordination, core strength, and confidence.
As far as activities go however, dancing ranks pretty high on the intimidation factor, so to help you get started, here’s a list of five moves that you can use to get your endorphin rush in private.
1. Drop it like it’s hot
How low can you go? Swinging your hips from side to side as you slowly lower your way to the ground challenges your glutes, thighs, and core.
Play a song with a thumping beat and play with adding levels to your dance moves.
Think about using good squat form and engage your core by gently pulling in your abdominal muscles throughout the movement in every movement.
2. Flex your face muscles
Dance isn’t only about moving your body, by engaging your face, you add a whole new level of emotion, and endorphins to the mix.
Channel the emotions of the music through your face, going from smiling and upbeat to serious and suspended.
Don’t be shy, let your expressions be really big!
For a point of reference, check out any Lady Gaga performance, and then dial it back a few notches.
Tip: If you genuinely allow yourself to have fun, your face will reflect it!
Admit it. You’ve probably tried to do the robot before.
It might not have been pretty, but whether you realized it or not, you were actually on the right track.
Isolating one body part from another is a big concentration exercise, so explore moving just use your arms (raise the roof!), or moving just use your hips (Shakira, Shakira!).
Remember to mix it up, variety is key!
Tip: Check out Michael Jackson in “Thriller”—he is the isolation master!
4. Master your walk and strut your stuff
Walking tells the world a lot about you: your alignment, your core engagement, your confidence, and your personality.
To give you some idea of how important it can be to strut your stuff, I’ve heard of dance auditions where cuts occurred after the dancer simply walked across the floor.
When mastering your walk, explore the full range of walks, from slow, droopy, and depressed to arm swinging, chest-puffed confidence.
Tip: Keep your chin up, eyes forward, and shoulders back.
To bounce, find the prominent downbeat in the music, bend your knees, and boom! You’re dancing!
Eventually let that bounce grow bigger, then bring it into other parts of your body, like your shoulders.
Keep cranking up the movement and make it creative.
The good news about dance is whatever you do, you can never be wrong!
As long as your body is in motion and you’re grooving and feeling it, you are doing it right!
My biggest advice is to let your hair down and allow yourself to experience the freedom dance provides.
You can’t create and judge at the same time. So let your body enter “flow” and explore the movement.
Remember, your body was made for this, so don’t let self-judgement and criticism derail your efforts.
Fearlessly dance on, my friends!
Also published on Medium.