Fin shares five ways to help any dancer stay strong and healthy during over the summer.
We all enjoy a summer holiday – time off work, seeing friends and family and going away. But for dancers it can sometimes be a difficult time to keep up physical fitness, so here are Fin’s 5 tips that might help you stay strong and healthy during a break.
1. Make sure you feel both physically and mentally up to exercise. Before you do any fitness, run through a checklist in your head: “How do I feel, do I really want to do this, does my body feel stiff and sore?” This will help set your expectations about how your day’s exercise will go. Make sure you feel up for your workout. A little bit of doubt or second guessing is ok, do try to power through but if you are really doubting yourself or don’t feel like you can, such as feeling too sore, tired or just under the weather, then maybe think about not doing a day. Try to not make habit of skipping too many days, but not feeling mentally ready can severely affect your performance and focus which may lead to poor results or injury.
2. Take the opportunity to try new things or do something different. It’s nice to stick to what you’re good at but always doing the same exercises all the time will lead to diminishing returns. Adding variety can really help with progression, and breaks up the monotony of doing the same things over and over again. Working out your body in multiple different ways can stop it from over adjusting, which prevents you from making progression. Use the time you have to find new classes or take a break from your usual routine and try something unfamiliar, you may actually find that when you come back to your usual work or fitness routine you might be better than you were before.
3. Set realistic goals and targets. It’s easy to think that with free time in the summer you’ll achieve a great feat of fitness, such as completing a half marathon, being able to lift weights over 100kg or do 100 push ups in one go. These are extreme goals even if you are a person with an already active lifestyle. A problem that can happen with having these sorts of goals is that you are unlikely to make steady enough progress towards them. This can lead to a vicious cycle of not hitting your goals, losing motivation and ultimately abandoning your plans. Give yourself a moderately challenging target. If you want to get better at running, set a distance or time that sounds reasonable ie 5k or non-stop for 35 minutes. With this kind of goal it is easier to see clear progress and should be very physically and mentally satisfying.
4. Find a friend to exercise with. If you want to both get fit and see friends over the summer why not kill two birds with one stone? Having someone to exercise with has numerous benefits both practically and mentally. For example you can help each other by combing your knowledge of exercise, showing each other proper technique or sharing new ways to work out. You can motivate each over through encouragement or you might even get competitive and try and outdo each other with some friendly rivalry.
5. Rest, relax and stretch. It may sound counterintuitive but these three things are what will help you the most in becoming fitter and stronger. Stretching is the most obvious of these, taking time at the end of a session to stretch out your muscles will help enormously in preventing cramps, stiffness and soreness which are big roadblocks in being able to exercise regularly. Also if you are someone who is already flexible, it’s important to maintain that flexibility as it can be lost and takes time to recover. Resting and relaxing might sound like the last thing you should do if you goal is to get fitter but they are and integral part of the process. Rest is what will allow your muscles to repair and grow. Relaxing is also vital, you don’t need to spend every hour of every day thinking about how and when you’re going to exercise, take opportunities to mentally recharge and enjoy other things going on around you.