Healthy Holiday Dancing
The holiday season usually means reconnecting with family and friends, bundling up around the fireplace or taking a much-needed vacation. But for many dancers in the community of Carmel Valley San Diego, it’s a balancing act between their normal training routine and participating in the many holiday activities. This balancing act can be a tedious one causing a disruption in your sleep schedule and eating habits thereby affecting your day to day training. These disruptions can lower your immune system’s ability to fight off cold and flu germs, making you more prone to illness and increasing the risk of injury, resulting in weeks or months of recovery. Here are some tips for healthy holiday training.
- Guard yourself from germs. Family gatherings, shopping malls, even the dance studio lobby are places where germs live. A simple solution? Wash your hands. People can be contagious before they know they’re sick, so even just a sip from someone’s drink or a friendly holiday hug can make you sick.
- Eat healthy to stay healthy. Holiday foods can be high in calories and low on the nutrition you need to battle germs and boost energy. Make it a priority to eat more fruits and vegetables instead of that holiday cookie or candy. Brown bag an apple or granola bar so you always have a healthy snack available. Eat small meals all throughout the day to keep stamina up and to bolster you against those holiday ‘temptations’ you are unable to fight if you have the feeling of starving after an intense training session.
- Keep Warm. Bundling up when out in the wind and cold is a no brainer, but don’t forget to warm-up once in the studio. A complete warm up is not stretching, but raising your body temperature by a few degrees by specific exercises depending on the type of dance you will be attempting. Warming up will increase your flexibility thereby making connective tissue more flexible and more acceptable to stretching. Remember to warm up longer in colder weather before stretching.
- Stretch. When stretching, take your time, especially in the cold of the holidays. You may want to try to isolate a particular muscle or group of muscles at a time. Begin with the largest contributor of your center, your back from upper to lower. Then continue stretching sides, arms, chest, buttocks, groin, calves and hamstrings. Remember with dance, dynamic stretches or movements gradually increasing in range of motion or speed are most helpful. Ten minutes of stretching in the morning enables you to move through your full range of motion later in the day without an additional warm-up.
- Hydrate. Every dancer knows that in warm weather when sweat comes easily, they must drink water. It is just as important during those cold day work-outs to keep your water consumption up, especially when many dance studios keep ‘the chill off’ by kicking up the heat, either mechanical or physical. Keep your water bottle with you at all times. You should be drinking eight, 8-oz glasses of water each day. Drink before and after class, and every training break in between. When not at the studio, continue your water drinking routine to continue to ward away disease.
- Rest. Getting 8½ to 9 hours of sleep a night during the holidays can help strengthen your immune system, give you more energy, and make you less vulnerable to stress, illness and injury. Dancers are notorious for ‘dancing through’ the beginning of a cold or flu; not a good practice. Should you find yourself and the sniffles good friends; rest. While training through the first of an illness can make you feel a little better for the time being, that training is actually contributing to the lowering of your immune system and may result in a more advancing illness or worse, injury that could take months of recovery and physical therapy.
- Free your mind and count your Blessings. Dance training not only takes a great amount of physical strength and stamina, but it takes brain work. In the words of Olympic Champion, John Smith, “The attitude, and the mind, is where it all starts.” Take some time to count your blessings and bless those around you. Participate in a local charity, or better yet, organize a group of dancers to donate their time to a community project of charitable organization. Reflect during the holidays and be thankful for your strengths as well as your weaknesses, the instructors and trainers in your life.
Louis McKay is President of North County DanceArts, Inc. located in Carmel Valley and currently trains 400 students from ages 3 to 93 years of age. Best wishes for a Healthy Holiday Season and a Very Healthy and Happy 2012. For Holiday charitable opportunities in the Carmel Valley, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe area, please visit www.bellsoffreedom.org.
Louis A. McKay
Louis has performed and taught Master dance and musical theater classes in 42 of our 50 states and Europe and South Africa. In 1980, Louis McKay opened Louis McKay Dance Studio, later to become North County DanceArts, Inc., which is a teaching facility that is best known for its professional teaching staff and quality dance training. Dancers from beginning level to professional are taught technique, terminology, and discipline in a nurturing and fun environment. Louis currently lives in Carmel Valley San Diego with his wife Tanya and is the proud father of four grown children and two grandchildren. Louis and Tanya McKay also own DanceHearts, a 501 (c) (3) Public Charity called Bells of Freedom Program, serves military men, women and their families by providing emergency care and support, back to school backpack program, vehicle donations and the annual “The Big Thank You” Military Holiday Event.