Friday, December 28, 2012

Dance Fit Video! Jump!

The song is "Jump" (Radio edit) by The Cube Guys and Luciana. You can find it on iTunes.

As always, make sure to warm up a bit before you engage in any exercise. Check your footwear. Move furniture outta the way and be on even ground. Let me know if tutorials for some of the steps would be helpful, now that I have a handy dandy webcam :)

Hope you have a great weekend filled with happiness and joy as we get ready to usher in the New Year!

Thanks for watching.

Enjoy the dance that is life!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A New Year...

It's hard to believe that a whole new year is shortly upon us, even though I say the same thing every year.

I've never been one for New Year's Resolutions. I usually think if something is a good habit to start or stop, there's no time like the present. With that said, I think it's almost impossible not to view the time of changing over to a new year as one where new beginnings can spring.

There are the usual things that I try to remind myself to get back on top of. The piles of "oh, I'll get to that later, or "this weekend" (I'm a surface space abuser) and "I'm so going to keep that drawer, counter, section of the house tidy". My garden is off the hook. I've fully committed to growing a healthy crop of "screw it" in those raised beds. It just graduated to the Maybe When The Kids Are Up and Out list.

There are the soft chewy resolutions; more time with the kids, finding more inner piece, staying connected to friends more. I really think of these as everyday resolutions.

Even  though January 1st 2013 will not contain a new me, there are some goals that I would like to cross off the list floating around in my ol' brain pan sometime during 2013.

Clean up, or rather, re clean up my eating;

About a year and a half ago (2 years? Damn, time passes quickly). I made changes to my family's diet. Using the paleo diet as my template, I cut out wheat and glutens, seriously reduced our sugar intake, legumes and almost all dairy. I abandoned the notions that I grew up with, "Move more, eat less" and "High carb and low fat is the only healthy way to eat". I've had what I would consider great success, and I know my family has benefited greatly as well.

But it's easy to get a little sloppy over time. Sure, I keep wheat glutens away and we still don't consume anywhere near the amount of sugar we once did. But I have my less than fab choices. Plus, Richard and I never really did the 30 days grain-free, dairy-free, legume-free as recommended by Robb Wolf in The Paleo Solution Diet. Richard mentioned he was game to try with me. If not, I will brave it myself. It wouldn't be too different from how I eat now, just less snaky type stuff, which would get replaced with real food choices. I've grown very accustomed to preparing foods, thanks to this lovely lady and her website,  Everyday Paleo.

Learn more about blogging;

I'm slowly, slowly learning as I go. I really enjoy reading the blogs of others and I love the thought of being able to reach out to others on subjects.
Cleaning up my diet and increasing my blogger-rific blog skills are more than likely going to conjoin into a new blog about my struggles, successes and failures with using paleo, primal and gluten-free as a template for the chow my family eats. Plus, I'll have a place to swear like a sailor and over share ;)

Since body tissue maintenance is coming up on the list, hopefully there will be more "rolling" on this blog.

Use my Trigger Point GRID more;

Shameless plug time! I'm a TPTherapy affiliate. Within the right side column there is a link to TPTherapy products for which, full disclosure, I get a small percentage if you purchase through the link on my blog. Whether you go through my site or not, its a product line I believe in.
I've been known to call it "making sweet love to my Trigger Point GRID". I love my GRID roller. But you would think otherwise the way I've been ignoring it lately. I need to roll out my muscles on a more regular basis.


More specifically, Bikram Yoga, sometimes known as hot yoga. I'm a novice at yoga in general and any yoga style would probably be of benefit. I'm a wimp when it comes to working out in heat. I'm okay if I heat up while working out, and in general I sweat like a pig as it were. But exercising in a heated room seems crazy to me. So why try it? To see if it will help all those tight, locked up parts in my body. And to see if I can "take the heat". Hopefully my innards won't liquefy.

Do more bodyweight training;

Handstands, pull-ups and many other moves that contribute to a rich vocabulary of functional movement. There are some great resources out there and I hope to learn what I can.
Animal Flow Workout and Global Bodyweight Training. I love the thought of combining this with dance moves!
MovNat. I've never been a very outdoorsy type. I did a lot of hiking as a kid. But between being an only child and having a dad that frequently referred to me as a "candy-ass", well you can do the psychological math on that one. I also spent a great deal of time in dance studios during my youth. Pointe shoes and the elements of outside don't mix well.
I don't think I will be throwing around boulders or dragging logs, but there's many other fun and functional moves I'm game for.
Gold Metal Bodies. I recently found this site. I'm excited to learn more. Tutorials, tips and tricks.
Har'core Pakour! I do not foresee myself scaling walls or jumping over picnic tables, but there are some basics that look doable and are pretty functional moves to have. Here's a great tutorial that I plan to modify for my own endeavors;

From the Fifth Ape blog.

This about as crazy as my shit gets! For now.
I plan on improving my knee drop jumps. I didn't learn those until just a month or so ago. I point that out because I'm 42 and not anywhere near extraordinary, meaning that we all have the potential to learn how to do awesome things!

Master my webcam;

I finally got a laptop a few months ago. Between trying to avoid shelling out dough for Windows 8, the offers of near constant upgrades from Lenovo and a new format for iTunes I've actually grown weary of shouting the f-word at my new electronic. But I do like having a webcam that can travel to which ever room in my house isn't in total disarray. Now I just need tips on how not to look like the Crypt-Keeper when my face is up close to the screen.

So those are the list toppers for my new Year's list, or course after the things that are really important!

Do you make New Year's resolutions? What are they? Any anti Crypt-Keeper tips?

Thanks for reading.

Enjoy the dance that is life!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dance Concept; Don't Lose Your Marble.

So I've been teaching Balletone classes on a more regular basis. I'm pretty psyched about it. For the gym I teach at it's been kind of a "filler" class (covering for a regular instructor who teaches step aerobics. I don't do step. That would be more of a comedy/slapstick hour thing for me to do), I've been kinda doing a hybrid Zumba/Balletone sampler plate. People seem pretty enthusiastic about the Balletone format, so it's looking like Balletone will become a regular class at this particular gym. It's been fun doing the first half hour as a Zumba, sometimes even a little Zumba Toning, then kicking off the shoes and socks and getting into our Balletone zone. This morning it was fun and functional, if not down right necessary. The group ex. room was like a freaking penguin den!
Regardless of the room temp at any given time, the demands for balance, agility and mind body connection in the movements of Balletone, or dance related movements often gets my brain spinning for the best ways to explain a movement concept. Also, many an interesting conversation about challenges in movement have come up. I love it! I could probably talk for days on end about it, as some unlucky souls I'm sure have found out the hard way.
I'm going to talk about only one right here.
Maintaining proper hip and pelvic alignment through a series of moves, or for a singular pose, can be challenging.
Think of a marble on a tabletop. If you keep the tabletop level, the marble will stay centered.
A brief tutorial...

Hope this little tip helps. I know it helps me when trying to connect my mind to my body.

Thanks for hanging out!

Enjoy the dance that is life!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Within the last few weeks I was asked to sub a fitness class at the gym where I lead other group fitness classes. The class was one designed for the elderly, including those that are mobility challenged.

 Sit N' Be Fit pretty much sums up what the class is all about. Most all of the exercises are done in a chair. Light weights, 2-3 lbs. are used for arm and core exercises. A main focus being functional movements, getting up and down from a chair, reaching overhead, bending down to pick something off the floor as well as just keeping range of movement throughout the body's system of joints.

I had never taught a class like Sit N' Be Fit, and as with endeavoring to do anything new, I was a bit nervous. While my part as an instructor would be pretty low wear and tear on my own body, it was of the utmost importance to me that I not jack up my participants, or give them movements that would leave them feeling frustrated.

Okay, right here I want to interject some thoughts on fitness, dance and aging.

Dancing makes you smarter! Its not just the physical activity, which many studies have shown is part of the recipe for keeping a brain from aging any faster than is has to. In learning, navigating and executing movement patterns in dance the brain is constantly asked to fire on many cylinders. New pathways are made while existing ones are refreshed and groomed. Add music to the mix, there's even more input for the brain to be stimulated by.

Usually dance is social. Whether you are working with partners in couples or group dancing or in a dance/dance fitness class, you are with others collectively sharing the experience. Bonds and memories are built. Keep that social life!

Many movements in dance and /or fitness require cross-lateral movement. Cross-lateral movement is when a limb crosses the mid-line of the body. This action causes the two hemishperes of the brain to communicate via the corpus callosum, the thick band of neuron fibers that connects the two sides of the brain. Cross-lateral movement is vital in an infant's brain development and the brain never outgrows the benefits!

The regular instructor gave me many pointers and ideas. As a licensed Zumba Gold instructor I have had some instruction on the needs of special populations in fitness. I also searched the web for tips and ideas. And if there is one thing I have learned from over almost 20 years of dance, movement and fitness instruction it is to not over think stuff when teaching a format that is new to me. Also, staying flexible and open minded, while always keeping safety as a priority. As long as one has a strong foundation or outline of what they plan to do, most everything else will fall into place. Over thinking and stressing out can often block out creativity.

One of the things that the regular instructor clued me in on was that the regular participants of the class love Big Band Era music. So I jumped onto iTunes and found a huge collection of Big Band tunes. My new play list had classics like King Porter's Stomp, Ain't Misbehavin' and Chattanooga Choo Choo. I also pulled out a couple of Zumba Gold routines that I modified to better fit a seated fitness format.

It is amazing how music, a certain song, can take the mind back to the past with many of the strong emotions that are attached with those memories. I could see in many of the participants' faces the memories of evenings spent with friends and family, loved ones that have passed, children that were once small. A few of the seniors shared smiles and laughter about remembering kicking their heels up with Swing dances like the the Lindy Hop, Jitterbug and Boogie Woogie. One woman told me that it was time to go home from the Town Grange when all the kids were asleep on the benches that lined the walls of the dance floor. For another woman "I'll Never Smile Again" brought back memories of all the tears she shed while being a young wife and mother with a husband fighting overseas in WW11.

I had all the participants walk around to the backs of their chairs for some standing exercises, the backs of the chairs offering something to hold onto for extra support. Using some Zumba Gold routines we heated things up with some dancin'. Doing movements to swing and mambo tunes had a lot of eyes sparkling.

So my subbing gig for Sit N' Be Fit is over, for now at least. Hopefully I will be asked to sub again. I so greatly enjoyed leading the classes. I so admire the participants for staying active both physically and socially.

Since I am in my early forties, I'm sorta at that place where I am feeling comfortable in my own skin, for the most part. I feel I have a better grip on what being vibrant and sexy means to me. But I also have those moments of "Oh sh*t, where the hell did my youth go?" "Oh. My. God. I'm becoming invisible." "Am I still desirable? Should I even care?" Yeah, I know some of those thoughts are a bit shallow, but I also know that they are not uncommon in my age group. I also have the relief that comes with knowing that the aforementioned concerns really aren't as important as to me as they used to be. I can focus on other things that are far more interesting and fulfilling.

My short spurts of time with those elderly exercisers was a real treat for me. I take comfort in knowing that if I just keep on keepin' on, I will be just fine know matter how many wrinkles I wear on my face or how stiff I may feel. Keeping connected to family, friends and community seems to make life a joy at any age!

Earlier I mentioned Swing dancing.

Now go make some memories!
Thanks for reading.
Enjoy the dance that is life!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Gift Idea For The Ladies On Your List!

The Coobie Bra!

Have you ever heard of this bra? I have one and I love it. Its comfortable and gives a nice natural shape. With a huge selection of colors you can let your fashionista side soar.

Coobie Bra has special offers going on for the 12 Days of Christmas, with special offers going on each day till December 15th. Check it out!

"But isn't a bra a risky gift to get someone? What about sizing?"

Well the Coobie is designed as one size fits all, comfortably fitting  32A thru 36D. With Full sizes in  38 thru 42D.

While I would recommend something with more support for more intense athletic activities, I wear mine when I teach dance classes like ballet and contemporary/lyrical and am delightfully comfortable.

Enjoy the dance that is life!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dance Step Tutorial.

So I got a new laptop. Yeah! For the most part I'm all but clueless. But since I'm clueless about many things I'm well within my comfort zone.

One of the bells and whistles on my new toy is a webcam (I'm sure its pretty standard on most laptops these days. Just guessing, 'cause remember, I don't know sh*t from Shinola when it comes to techy stuff).

I wanted to do a tutorial on this fun dance step, so it gave me the perfect opportunity to play with my new webcam.

It was definitely a process. I think I had to download a couple of things and at one point a high pitched air raid siren started going off. I was ready to abandon the whole task and grabbed my 15 yrear old's Flip camera. Couldn't find any of my mini tripods and the batteries crapped out mid filming. Erg!

But success was finally mine...depending on how you measure it :)

I love this step. Whenever I am choreographing a ballet piece that has any hint of Latin flavor I will usually do some variation of it.
Its not just fun, but a pretty good workout step as well.
The action of the leg works both hip abduction (when the leg lifts up and out to the side) and adduction (when the leg crosses in front of the other leg).
The jump, while small, offers some lower intensity plyometric movement, as well as a balance challenge in that the leg is held for a moment in the air before it comes down and crosses.
An important function of the obliques is to stabilize the torso and maintain proper placement of the pelvic area and spine through movements (a good article on the subject). The actions of the upper body and arms in conjunction with the lower body's movements through this step do just that.
In addition, there is a syncopated timing in the step. Its not all even. This is great brain food at any age! As well as the cross lateral movements of the limbs, which cause the two hemispheres of the brain to "converse".
If you know the exact name of this step, used in this context, don't be shy. Let me know!
Thanks for reading.
Enjoy the dance that is life!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Holiday Music. Time To Make The Playlist Of The Season.

For the last few years come usually around October, I have to sit down and comb through my catalog of music and surf iTunes for holiday/Christmas music to choreograph dance pieces to. I've complained about this before to anyone unlucky enough to be within hearing of me rant. It's not that I don't like music associated with this time of year. I rather enjoy it, and will usually play the radio station that goes straight up Christmas music come Black Friday.

What gets my knickers bunched up is that the world of music and dance concepts goes from a vast and endless ocean of possibilities to a small puddle.

So back in October I once again dragged my ears and choreographic mind's eye to the computer to hash out a plan of attack for dance pieces for my dance classes.

This year was a little different. Maybe I was in a more open frame of mind as to possibilities, or maybe I am becoming more confident as a choreographer. Whatever the case, this year's search revealed some real treasures. And not just for setting dance choreography, but for the enjoyment of listening to the music of the season.

 Its time to make that holiday play list that will be the background  sounds of this time for special traditions shared with loved ones and for gatherings throughout this time of year.

Christmas With The Kranks soundtrack.

The link above is for amazon, but the soundtrack is also available on iTunes.
A really fun collection of classic Christmas songs by artist like The Ramones, Elvis Presley and even a rendition of the Nutcracker Suite by The Brian Setzer Orchestra Band.

The Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs.

I've had this album for awhile now and have used songs from it before. It's a real treasure.

NOW That's What I Call Christmas 4.

This 2010 album has 36 songs. it is also available on iTunes.

I'm currently using (and loving) Rhianna's version of  "A Child Is Born".

From The Grinch Who Stole Christmas movie soundtrack, Little Isidor and the Inquisitors "Christmas of Love".

This song is too cute and fun for words!

The piece I am most enjoying choreographing to is the "Christmas Eve Montage" from Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas. The composition is from the talented Danny Elfman. He simply breaths excellence.

The dance piece I am using "Christmas Eve Montage" for is an ensemble piece. I just love listening to it.

For a more electronica sound try "Celtic Carol" by Lindsey Stirling. This kind of talent blows my mind.

The Nutcracker Suite as done by jazz legend Duke Ellington. This version of the holiday classic gives a smooth and sultry sound to mix things up for listening pleasure, without the indigestion that goes with mixing other things up. Like the endless array of holiday num nums.

So if you don't already have a play list for the holidays maybe its time to make one! If you already have your MP3 loaded, hopefully you can find some new treasures.

Thanks for reading.

Enjoy the dance that is life!

Do you have a favorite Christmas song or album? Tips for organizing a great play list? Please share!