I can still vividly remember one winter day in high school at cheerleading practice. Fun Fact: I was a cheerleader for wrestling for two years in high school. It was a blast pounding that mat! It is what I did to keep myself active in the winter between volleyball and softball seasons.
At this one particular practice we were working on a poms dance routine, and I was just not understanding the concept of moving my hips in a circle, or forward and back or any which way in isolation. (Can you relate?) If my hips moved, my knees, thighs, and entire torso moved as well. My friends laughed at me a lot, but I just figured that was okay because I wasn’t a dancer. It was true, I never took one dance class in my life. Then I became an adult and started teaching group exercise which was choreography to music… the gateway drug to organized dancing.
It was only a matter of time before I realized that I needed to jump on the Zumba bandwagon!
I took the Zumba instructor training in 2009, and even at that training, the leader had to come over to me, hold my hips, and physically move them for me so I knew how to do it right. It took me a full year to do anything with what I learned from that training. Finally, one day I said, “Enough is enough…I am going to teach Zumba even if I look like a fool!” The good news was that I had rhythm from all my years of teaching cardio kickboxing and aerobics, but I needed to figure out how to add in a layer of confidence and sexiness (without having a few cocktails first!)
As with anything challenging in life that we set out to achieve, I did the physical work of practicing and memorizing a bunch of dances to specific songs. More importantly, I did the mental and emotional work of building up my confidence and telling myself to relax and have fun. Leading a dance based exercise class would be so helpful to so many people.
How did it go, you might ask? Long story short: I am still teaching Cardio Dance classes once or twice per week and have been doing so since 2010! It is my favorite class to lead for many reasons. Those reasons are what have inspired this post so read on my friends!
Why do I think it is so important that we all dance more? The reasons are countless as I have illustrated in this post about 50 Reasons to Exercise.
Let’s focus specifically on you though- a busy mom who deserves to experience the benefits of dancing.
Here are 10 reasons why mothers should start or continue to sneak more dancing into their lives (and not just at weddings)
Dance helps us to laugh and smile more.
One of my favorite memories of our wedding day was getting my grandma out on the dance floor for the Cha Cha Slide and the polka! I also chuckled a lot as I looked around the packed dance floor at all the friends of our parents. The guys had some pretty entertaining dance moves. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I need to laugh more. It is very important to me that I get that release, and it’s one of the factors that makes life so enjoyable. It’s pretty hard to dance or watch someone dancing without at least smiling a little, right?
Dance is a healthy and fun way to engage with our kids.
Taking five minutes to play one of your family’s favorite pump up songs while dancing- whether it’s in the car, while cooking a meal, while getting ready or anytime- is such a great way to teach our children that movement is fun. Ever notice how babies and toddlers hear music and naturally start to dance? It’s the cutest thing, but it also shows us that it’s innate. We were born to dance!
Dance a great cardio workout, but it’s more like a workout in disguise.
Some people really don’t like to dance, and I respect that. There are some people who say they don’t like to dance, but in all honesty, they just might not be comfortable with expressing themselves freely through their bodies because we may have been taught to be modest or reserved. When I teach cardio dance classes, I always turn down the lights as much as I can while keeping it safe. This helps participants to feel like nobody can see them and it allows for their inhibitions to drop.
I turn the music up so it fills the room and surrounds everyone like an infusion of energy to bring out the rhythm from the muscles in the body. Keeping up with the music and matching movements to it requires a lot of effort from the cardiovascular system.
We often don’t realize how much of a workout it is because so many other factors of our fitness are being engaged such as agility, endurance, coordination, strength, and flexibility.
Dance benefits the brain.
A simple Google search will give you access to articles and studies about how dance benefits the brain in many ways such as it
- reduces depression symptoms
- supports motor, intellectual and emotional brain functions
- boosts memory
- stimulates nerve growth factors which are linked to neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to form new neural connections to change and adapt
Dancing during pregnancy benefits both mom and baby during and after pregnancy.
One study has found that cognitive functions, fine and gross motor skills, receptive and expressive communication and the social-emotional situation were more developed in babies whose mothers had danced regularly during their pregnancy.
I am a perfect testimony for many of benefits of dancing during pregnancy, such as smooth deliveries for all my pregnancies and my oldest child has exceeded my math skills already, and he’s only 10. Laugh at me if you want, but I danced the most during my pregnancy with him so I like to think it helped his brain, and there’s research to prove it!
Dance is a fun social activity.
A dance class is the perfect setting to make new friends and branch out socially. Did you know that maintaining positive relationships may just rank up there with healthy eating and exercise. Being socially engaged leads to increased happiness, reduced stress, and a stronger immune system. After working hard together and getting an endorphin release, I will often ask a prompting question during the cool down of my cardio dance classes. This builds a sense of connection and community. It allows people to share something about themselves and has brought people together in a way that is hard to describe. It is incredible to see.
Dance is a great way to express ourselves creatively.
Ever feel stuck? You are in a continuous cycle of repeating the same thoughts or actions over and over without moving forward? Finding a creative outlet is one simple way that you can get a release and move out of a rut.
Whether it’s through writing, crafting, designing, or dancing, creative expression helps us to feel connected to our spirit in a way that is light and energizing all at the same time. Each type of dance has its foundation, but because each of us has our own unique body and abilities, we present the movements differently, which is inspiring!
Dance brings up emotions that need to get felt and released.
I used to be a huge Dancing with the Stars fan. I cried during most episodes. I couldn’t help myself. I never cry during sports so why would I cry during dance? There have also been times while leading a cardio dance class where I have to hold back tears.
Without looking into the science behind this, I believe that there is something about the harmonious connection of flowful movement, great music and human social contact that brings up so much joyful emotion, that it needs to release-sometimes in the form of tears.
Currently I lead a cardio dance class at 11:30am on Mondays. It is just 20 minutes, but let me tell you, we all leave that class in such a better mood. It’s like any negative emotions that we have are either released or subdued in a way that we go from having a case of the Mondays to feeling likes it’s Friday in a matter of minutes!
There are so many types of dance that it appeals to people of all ages, abilities and interests.
The best example of this is a wedding dance. A great DJ can get almost everyone out on the dance floor by playing the right song at the right time. What’s your favorite wedding dance song? Play that one for your kids today, and see how much fun you have!
It’s beautiful and unifying, and our world needs that right now more than ever.
When I lead a cardio dance class, I use very few, if any, verbal cues. I clap, point, or show a quick visual reminder of the next movement. It doesn’t matter what language my participants speak, they understand the cues and enjoy the experience without worrying about if they are doing things correctly.
Dance is a universal language- it connects humans together in a positive way while allowing for freedom of expression.
Let’s do more dancing. Are you in? I’m not saying you need to take a class or schedule hours of dancing into your week. Let’s just be intentional about adding some creative movement while we play our favorite music. Follow the lead of your children because they know what to do. Remember, we were born to dance!
Did I convince you enough so that you are ready to join me and dance like a mother to this featured Fit Mom Moment? Let’s do it! Click the video below.
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You are an amazing mother. Keep giving yourself compassion and grace. You are doing your best and deserve time each day to reward yourself in a healthy way.