Yes, there are a lot of things that are important for effective training. Great coaching, partner practices, solo practices, eating well and so on. You also may have heard that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to truly master anything. Well, 10,000 hours will take a very long time to achieve if the only time you train your body is on the practice floor. Basically, no one masters anything completely if their only practice is in structured settings.
Think of it as learning a language. You could have a great teacher, and set aside time for practice sessions with other students, but when you go to a country where this language is the only one spoken, your progress will take off like a rocket because your use of that language is built into everything you do.
Now, use the same approach for your ballroom body. And, if you build ballroom “training” into everything you do, your 10,000 hours will add up in no time.
You know, the typical Non-Ballroom Standing Position:
Head is a bit forward; Neck is on a slight angle; Pelvis is behind your knees; making your butt stick out a bit; Shoulders are forward and might be pulled up; Profile line is like an ever so slight V on its side.
Ballroom Training “Standing” Position:
- Your head is squarely on top of your shoulders, which means your neck is straight, and may even feel a bit pulled back.
- Your pelvis is over your knees, which means that your butt is tucked in.
- Your shoulders blades are down (not back, just down), which opens up your chest.
- TIP: Add pulling in your gut a bit, and you will look slimmer, fitter, taller and more confident. You also work the muscles that will ultimately make it easier to keep this stance over time, and add to your ballroom body muscle memory.
Non-ballroom Walks definitely vary, but here is the observation of the majority ones:
Making a step first, then your body pulls forward, after a slight lag. Sometimes, an elevation could also be present, when one pushes off from the ball of the foot way too hard, creating a “bouncy” look to the walk.
Ballroom Training “Walk”:
- Your body (Upper body & lower body) move forward as one piece, with no real lag between your step and the movement of your entire body.
- The swing of the arms is natural, yet, it is your body that starts the directional movement.
- TIP: This will be easier if you have the, mentioned above, Ballroom Training Standing Position. Your thigh and butt muscles will also work a bit more with this type of walk, which will, subsequently, develop their shape and strength for your dancing.
- You just sit… And then, you slide your hips forward, create a gap between your hips and the back of the chair. And … rest your head forward. Yeah.
Ballroom Training “Sitting” Position:
- Whenever you can, as an exercise, while you are sitting, lift your feet slightly off the ground and hold it.
- Even better, lift and extend your legs fully, and hold them for at least 30 seconds.
- Better still, point your toes trying to make a perfectly straight line from the front of your calves through the top of your foot, and hold it. This exercise will work out some of the key muscles for prefect ballroom legs and lines.
- TIP: You can also strengthen your ever important ankles by moving your toes in circles. Remember, whether you are a leader or follower, shaky ankles mean shaky dancing, so it is well worth a little of your sitting time every day to make them strong.
There are, of course, various positions to sleep in, such as the “Freefaller”, “Starfish” and the “Soldier”. But, do they really give you a good night rest + exercise your proper posture at the same time?
Ballroom Training “Sleeping”:
- If you sleep on your back, have an extra pillow under your knees.
- If you sleep on either of your sides, have a pillow between your knees, a pillow under your head and an extra pillow to hug
- This might seem like a weird training suggestion, but how you rest and stretch is important for your ballroom dance training too. Keep in mind, a pillow too big (or too small) can mis-align your spine.
- TIP: Sleeping on a completely flat surface, preferably on your back and for a short period of time, can help to relax most muscles in your body.