The Sparkle Coach: Dance is a great form of exercise for both mind and body
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with life, mind clutter and unsure of your fitness goals, one of the best forms of exercise for your mind and body (or as I like to say #BrainandBooty) is to dance.
Dancing not only can boost your fitness levels, strengthen your body and improve flexibility but it can “transform your mood by releasing positive endorphins around the body, reducing daily stresses and dance produces specific chemicals that contribute to increasing brain power!” Explains Katie Geddes, Dance Studio Leeds.
I know myself as someone who shimmied her way into sport and fitness through discovering a dance style that worked for me, namely bellydance, just how incredible this art form is which is accessible to all.
I even now teach a range of styles in my spare time and as I always say: “Everybody has a perfect body to dance, we all just move in our own beautiful way.”
Among them are my 85-year old bellydance flow student, who reports that she “finally feels connected within her body” to my nutritionist mum Lizzi Owiredu, who shimmies along to my dance HIIT class with her toddler feeling “rejuvenated” and “body positive”; alongside 'Insta-famous' fashion designer Jordan Wake, who says that dancing with me before work supercharges her focus and has transformed her “brain and booty”, saving her time procrastinating on getting ready and social media.
From leading expressive movement sessions with adults with learning disabilities at Coactive Arts charity, based at The Arthouse space in Wakefield’s The Ridings Shopping Centre, to chair dance in nursing homes, dance is a universal connection and a source for everyone’s soul to communicate.
"Dance as a form of exercise and expression has been with us since the beginning of our time on this planet. Beginning with moving to the elements of earth, water, air and fire, to the beat of the drum to songs of the bird where there are no words, there is dance,” says Annie Riley from The Modern Mystery School.
Celebrity Life Coach Jill Ritchie chats to me following her somatic movement session, which is where you focus on the inner experience dance brings you rather than the external appearance.
She says: “In the wild animals who experience trauma shake it off physically after the event whereas we as humans carry it around with us. There’s no wonder having a good dance can help us shake off our stresses!”
Jill, 41, a former corporate banker, has discovered a love of pole dancing and like me she has a pole at home where she practises with an instructor online. “I’ve never worked out my arms so much.” I can relate too as when you’re in the dance flow holding your posture strong you end up moving more than you would focusing on acquiring a skill and moving to the music.
Dance is a full on cognitive and core workout, however you wish to groove to the rhythm of the beat.
As Annie eloquently adds: “To dance is to honour your body.
“For dance wakes up and enlivens the muscles, the joints, whose natural state is movement, heart rate increases and the blood flows. You breathe, you flow, dance enlivens the soul.”
When I was asked about how to start a fitness regime by Gayle Lofthouse on BBC Radio Leeds: “But where do I start with exercising,” she asked.
My best advice: “Put on your favourite song and move however you want to the music.”
It really is that simple, there are no rules. If in doubt, shimmy it out!