I’ve been quite the diva this past week because OMG! I can’t even go to dance class! This injury is the worst! I will lose everything I’ve worked so hard to achieve! I suffer so greatly from the lack of dancing in my life!
Today marks the eighth day without dance class. I expect to return to class tomorrow. This drama tells you more about my character than you probably want to know. Because I am aware of this particular flaw, I wanted to do something to counter-act it. Not being a diva is the obvious choice, but it’s hard work. So I decided to sum up all the positive effects dance has had on me in the past year! Feel free to add your own in the comments. Here we go:
The Blatantly Obvious
Dancing is a physical activity. Dance is even exercise, which the WHO defines as «a subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and purposeful in the sense that the improvement or maintenance of one or more components of physical fitness is the objective.» And we all know that regular exercise is good for you because heart disease and all that. Also, as I found out here, not exercising at all will make aging ever so much fun. Not.
The most obvious benefit to taking dance classes is being able to dance. I firmly
hope believe that some of the grace your dance teacher tries so hard to hammer into your desk-sitting adult body transfers into your daily movement patterns.
The Less-Known Physical
You may or may not have heard of these effects of exercise – and dance in particular – before. People have different goals they want to achieve through dancing and exercise. When I first signed up, my goal was to dance again. With every further class I chose, my goal was to dance better. So I was completely or partially surprised by these two things.
First, there’s energy. Not the one that equals mass times light speed squared, but the physical energy you use to do things. If you dance regularly, chances are you have more. The first weeks after starting a new class may leave you tired, but as soon as you adapt to the load, your overall energy increases – in my case, a noticeable amount.
Second, there’s endurance. My family lives in the same city as I do and loves to travel. Their two cats much prefer to stay at home. This necessitates regular visits from me when my family is out of town. I can either take an inconvenient bus or walk the 4,5 kilometers on foot. I happen to like walking, even without Pokémon Go. Before I started dancing, the one-way walk would exhaust me, causing muscle aches in my hip abductors and lower back. Several months after I started dancing, I happened to walk to my parents’ house again – and I arrived there fit as a fiddle. So I walked back, too, and got home only mildly, pleasantly tired. If this isn’t useful, I don’t know what is.
I have been fortunate enough to not have to wrangle with mental illness so far. My mental problems are smaller: I am a whiny bitch and I spiral downwards into negative thoughts easily. I hate being cold, being tired, being scolded, being ignored and being unhappy about things I cannot change. I also hate myself for being this whiny. I’m sure you can see how helpful that is. Dancing helps balance me out. My mood swings are not extreme and not particularly disruptive to my life (more to m SO’s) but it’s nice to see them diminished. The only time I’d been close to tears recently because life is so unjust was last week, between winter, politics and missing class.
A friend who does struggle with a mental illness has had dance as a part of her therapy and says it helped her, too. Note: This does not mean that you, me or anyone else get to make idiotic statements like «Throw away your Prozac and fire your therapist, dance is all you need!» It’s an adjunct therapy, not a primary one – unless, like me, you’re a healthy adult who just feels a bit sad for fifteen minutes every other week.
I am not a social butterfly. I am more of a social stick insect – I just hope people don’t notice me and barring that, don’t eat me. I like the idea of people, but find small talk tiring and cannot find common ground with some individuals at all. The big advantage of dance class is that you always have at least one topic in common with everyone there (guess which one). You can get to know new people in class – but you are not at an obligation to, because you’re mainly there to dance.
The Firm and Well-Rounded
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Not being very well (or at all) endowed in that department, it came as a pleasant surprise to me. Even if your arabesque looks super-unimpressive like mine, rest assured that your gluteus maximus is gradually getting more maximus. And more gluteus.
Okay, I’ll stop now.