Friday, January 31, 2014

"Royals" Dance Fitness Routine {and a Lyrical snippet}.

I've had some requests for a video of my "Royals" dance fitness routine. So, here it is! This routine was inspired by the fun, sexy and playful flavors of the Burlesque style, so once you get comfy with the steps start firing up that attitude. Although I would say go straight to working the flavor. It's just more fun that way!

In this post I also have a video snippet of a piece I've started in my Lyrical class.

"Royal" dance fitness routine. Song by Lorde.

Lyrical snippet: Part 1 "Safe And Sound". Song by Taylor Swift.

Thanks for hanging out and watching. Have a great weekend!

Enjoy the dance that is life!


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Exercises For The Upper Back And Shoulders. Part 1.

Since the shoulder complex is attached to the upper back, exercises that target the upper back can benefit the shoulders as well.

Setting the shoulders in proper alignment is an important first step. Here is a link to a tutorial to help.

Opening The Front Of The Shoulders.

Now for the exercises. Following the photos is a video tutorial, so if you don't want to go through the pictorial walk through you can scroll on down to the video.

Exercise #1

Laying prone on the ground or a yoga mat, lengthen through the body. Legs are in parallel, lengthen along the tops of the feet. Fore arms are on either side of the body. Core is braced, glutes engaged, and there is a little squeeze (or engagement) in the hamstrings.
Inhale as the shoulders lift and lengthen away from the mat, staying long through the back of the neck.

Exhale as the shoulders lower back down to the mat.
Repeat 4 more times for a total of 5 sets.

Exercise #2
Place the hands hand over hand underneath the forehead.

Inhale as the shoulders, upper back and arms lift away from the mat.

Exhale as you lower back down to the mat. Repeat 2 or 3 more times. You should start to feel the exercise into your lats.

Exercises #3

Inhale as you lift the upper back and shoulders.

Exhale as you straighten the arms diagonally from the shoulders.

Inhale as the arms come back in.

Exhale as you lower back down to the mat.
Repeat 2 or 3 more times.

Finish with Child's Pose as a recovery stretch. Below is a picture of the stretch. The one I do in the video is a terrible example!

Here is a video tutorial with a variation that uses a resistance band.

Thanks for hanging out and watching!

Enjoy the dance that is life!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

We All Start With "Little Moves".

We all start with "little moves". What does that mean. Well, it's my way of saying that everyone pretty much starts at the same place when it comes to movement and dance. We all start out being a little unsure and feeling pretty uncoordinated. Very young children jump in with abandon and without inhibitions, and it is a beautiful thing to see. Yet often enough, when they reach a certain age they too feel the pangs of uncertainty in their abilities. Some people take to dance and movement very naturally, but even they will come across their struggles. Often steps are learned on a small scale and then as ability and confidence grows so too does the size (or speed, height, what have you. Sometimes slowing the speed down is the challenge). A "little move" becomes a "big move", executed with confidence, strength and grace. As a dancer and as a dance teacher it is a beautiful thing to witness because I know first hand how amazing it feels.

I still remember the moment that I finally "felt" my first pique turn. Here's a nice video I found of the step I'm talking about-

Pique Turns in Classical Ballet.

I remember struggling and struggling with them. I didn't start really training in ballet with any consistency until I was about 12, so I have very clear memories of the struggles that I had in learning many of the steps in the classical ballet vocabulary. Most of the time I felt like a wagon that had lost one of its wheels. Suddenly one day in class I felt the smoothness of a completed turn with a seamless connection to the next turn. I still, to this day, remember how it felt internally. That is the feeling that I get super excited about when I see my students really feel like they have nailed a step. Especially turns, which have always been what I am weakest at. Although I'm better now, at my advanced age in ballet years, than I ever was as a younger dancer. This is due to the fact that I have a much better understanding of core strength, and thus, a much stronger core. Even though I am mostly a teacher now, I am always learning new things and peeling back new layers of understanding. All the time. I guess that is what I want anyone who does any kind of dance instruction with me  (or any instructor for that matter) to learn first; fall in love the art of learning the technique. The process over perfection.

Seeing exceptional dancers can be both inspiring and intimidating. A Zumba instructor that I got to work with for a licensing workshop who was very inspiring to me said something that I found brilliant;

"You are only as good of a dancer as the person standing next to you."

What that means is that there will always be someone better than you, and someone will probably be feeling that way about you at some point. So stay calm, focused and patient. Give yourself compassion as you push yourself further.

I remember sort of hating going to see big professional companies in S.F. I would watch and try to follow what steps they were doing. I was so wrapped up in my own frustrations with my abilities that I couldn't just sit and watch. And be inspired

Allow yourself to be inspired. Let it flow through you and it will flow from you.

Once I was able to allow myself to be inspired, and took a moment to take inventory of my own good qualities, I was also able to gain a greater understanding of what I was doing, what I wanted achieve, and eventually what I wanted to give to my audience and students. It was there that I truly found joy. I still do!

Thanks for hanging out for my rambling!

Enjoy the dance that is life!


What inspires you? I'd love to hear your story! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Rolling Out The IT Band

The IIiotibial Band, otherwise known as the IT Band, is a long, non-elastic band of tissue that along the outside of the thigh. It has attachments at the hip, as well as the knee. At the top of the leg it blends into the tensor fascia lata (TFL) and the Gluteus Max. With connections at the knee and lower leg as well it is easy to see how tightness in this band can wreak havoc to the entire leg.

Image source.

Remember the first part of the description is that it is non-elastic. This makes it especially important to "lube" up the fascia of the IT Band to get some pliability throughout all those connections.

*Warning; individuals with high blood pressure and/or heart disease are to use caution when engaging in rolling exercises. This is due to the possible disruption in even breathing which can cause a further elevation in blood pressure. Please consult with your physician for more information.

Thanks for hanging out and reading.

Enjoy the dance that is life!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Things To Get Busy With Now That It's 2014 {and some sites I recommend you check out!}

No doubt about it. We are in 2014 and the year is young. The newness of the year brings about thoughts of changes, hopes and goals for the coming 12 month cycle. I've never been one for making New Years resolutions. If a habit is worth breaking or implementing, then one should avoid holding it off and get to making a better life ASAP. With that said, the beginning of the year is still a fine time to evaluate or reevaluate goals.

My household is starting off the year with our house on the market and us looking for a rental house that will accommodate our family of six. But that is no reason to hold of some doable desires. Or at least get the ball rolling for some of them.

Get my personal trainer certification. 
I have a group ex. certification through AFAA. It was something that was recommended to Zumba instructors. I'm glad I got it, but now I would like to expand my role in the fitness field. Step one is to decide which organization to get it though. There are quite a few, but I think I have it narrowed down to either AFAA, ACSM or NASM. Hopefully I will make my choice soon and get crack'in. A great way to freshen up on all that human anatomy!

Become a better blogger.
One of the best ways to get better at something is to do it. And do it some more. I've always been intrigued by writing. For me blogging offers a great opportunity to hone my abilities. I've collected a slew of articles, mainly from BlogHer, that I just need to sit down and read, reread and perhaps employ.

Master this philosophy!
Forget Setting Goals. Focus On This Instead. Written by James Clear, this article looks at the differences between setting goals and using a system to achieve accomplishments, including why the standard practice of just "setting a goal" might be the first step to failure. It is a great article that I highly recommend reading. My mind was a little blown when I first read it. I'm excited to use this philosophy in my everyday life.

Add more of this flavor to my dance fitness routines.
Burlesque! What, what. Starting last year Zumba HQ added the L.A. Zumba Instructor Convention. Prior to the West Coast event the only other U.S. convention was held in Florida. So now there are two annual conventions. I've never been to one, East or West coast. I was hoping to get to the L.A. convention this February 2014, but with everything going on, coupled with the expense it just wasn't in the cards. Maybe next year. No biggie. But if I could've gone one of the things I was really excited about was a mini workshop exploring how to infuse the flavor of Burlesque into choreography, lead by the amazing Gina Grant (she was the instructor for my Zumba Kids licensing workshop).

It is a fun style to add some heat to an already fun and sexy workout!

I also wanted to get some Dancehall...

...with Toya and Cat (they are based out of Sacremento, so this is something I can definitely make happen in 2014!)

Pretty Ballet Hands!
Making hands ballet pretty is a lot harder that you'd think. Hands can hold quite a bit of tension, are usually on the periphery of the mental body check list and they stick out like, well, a sore thumb. I personally have the "Big Mac" habit. That is where one's thumbs stick out, because of misplaced tension, making the hand a suitable sleeve to slip a Big mac burger into. I had one old British teacher who used to threaten to cut my thumbs off. Her accent made her words more believable.
I read about this little tip... get hands like these...

Pencils are cheap. I'm sure the repeated clatter of them hitting the ground won't drive me bazonkers or anything. I think my students and i are going to have a lot of fun with this one!

Convince my husband that this will be loads of fun to do with me.
Acroyoga! Okay, so this video might be little ambitious. But we can start here...


and maybe even here...
Safety first. A spotter is recommended. "Caitlyn. Neil. Get in here!"

Acroyoga also means...

Do an unassisted handstand.
I'm getting pretty good up against a wall. It's time to go to the next level. Eek.

Get up from the bottom of a pistol squat. (Not necessary for Acroyoga. Just really bada**)
I can get all the way down, just not up. Future post. Currently hunting down an accomplice. Melanie?

Learn how to dance something remotely like this (the girl's part).
My appetite got whetted to learn how to waltz like this. Even with all of my dance training, it sorta knocks me out of my comfort zone. Which only makes more of a fun challenge! Lot's to remember and think about. Dang! They make it look so easy! I will most likely be a beginner forever.

I. Need. To Roll. More. Period.
When I say roll I mean on a foam roller and/or tennis or lacrosse ball.
I need to do way more than just this.

I want to do a back bend. From a standing position. Dammit.

Sites I recommend you check out!
Here are a couple of dance/strength training/fitness/body wellness sites I follow that I think you might want to check out.

Joel Minden: Strength and Conditioning.

Fascia Freedom Fighters.

The Dance Training Project.

All in all I think I have a pretty good list going for things to look forward to and stay busy with in 2014.

Thanks for hanging out. You can subscribe by email at the top.

Enjoy the dance that is life!


What is on your list for 2014? Anything that you would like to know more about?