All dancers experience a time during the year when they are in between major competitions. For me, that time is now, having finished up my Oireachtas run in December and learned my new steps only in January. It’s a hard transition to go from intense, frequent practices to less intense practices spent learning and perfecting new steps once or twice a week. And for me, the hardest part about that transition is motivating myself to maintain a level of working out that will keep me from losing all the stamina and strength I worked so hard to gain before the Oireachtas. So, here are four things we can all do to help keep ourselves stay motivated during the Irish dance “off” season:
Plan the workouts you’re going to do throughout the week, including dance, and write them down somewhere. In your planner, on your calendar, on a white board, it doesn’t matter. Just somewhere you’ll see it so you’ll feel like you’re accountable for actually doing it. You can even take it a step further and check off the workouts you do after you’re done. I love checking things off to-do lists, so this works great for me!
Make sure you don’t limit yourself to just dancing! It’s important to try new things and mix up your workout schedule so you don’t get bored. So far, I’ve taken to jump roping, plyometric circuits, yoga, pilates and trying out classes at the gym including spin, cardio kickboxing, step aerobics and even zumba. Try whatever sounds fun to you – most workout classes will benefit your dancing in one way or another, and doing something is better than doing nothing.
This is the most important motivation for me! Obviously, it is important to block out time to practice dance outside of your classes, whether you do it at your studio, at your gym or in your house, and it can be even more important to pick a buddy to practice with you so someone is holding you accountable for actually showing up and working hard. For me, I show up at my dance studio to practice almost 100% of the time if I know my buddy is waiting for me there (unless I have a legitimate excuse like an injury), but if I know I’ll be the only one practicing my level of success when it comes to actually showing up is much lower. Showing up to practice is half the battle, so anything you can do to help yourself make sure you’ll actually go is a step in the right direction!
This is the second-most important motivation for me, and it is something I didn’t do until very recently (which is really saying something when you’re 26 and you’ve been dancing since you were 5). Set goals and actually measure them! And I’m not talking about goals like “place on the podium” or “recall at Nationals.” Those are fine goals to have, but I’m talking about goals like “dance higher on your toes” and “work on your posture so your shoulders don’t slump.” These are goals that are based on comments you might get at feisanna and, more importantly, from your TCRG at practice. What are the three most common comments your TC gives you at practice? For me, they are to get higher on my toes, dance with more crossing and turnout and improve my posture and shoulders when I get tired. So, they are the goals that I work on and track. Think about what those things are in your own dancing, write them down (maybe on that white board that also has your workout schedule) and decide at what regular intervals and how you will track them.
Whether you are training for an Oireachtas, taking your first steps in Irish dancing or you just want to get fit in a fun way, Diddlyi has what you need. Access all of our online Irish dance workshops FREE for 24 hours - it takes less than a minute to register!