5 MORE Reasons Every Dancer Should Do Pilates

Our Resident Fitness Guru Mandy Henderson is back with more reasons that combining dance with the Pilates exercise system is a smart idea:

1. Support your spine from a strong “core” – Joseph Pilates described the “core” as a corset. When you switch on your internal stabilising muscles, keep your spine in its’ natural curves and your pelvis in neutral, it’s like tightening up a corset by making your torso stable and allowing the limbs to move freely. Pilates teaches you to keep your “core” switched on so that it’s second nature. This is very apparent when you want to create a good connection with your dance partner – if your centre is switched on, you will really notice a difference in your partner’s leading or following because their torso is stable and the limbs are “connected” to the spine. You will be able to lead or follow more efficiently and your partner will really notice the difference.
2. Release unnecessary tension held in muscles – Pilates helps you to “re-train” your muscles and develop good habits in the correct muscles for the job. This is achieved by breathing correctly as well as stretching tight muscles and strengthening weak muscles – e.g. learning to breathe and relax when you turn/spin, rather than holding the breath and allowing your shoulders to rise up towards your ears which will inhibit the turn by throwing your body off-axis. You will learn to relax the shoulders and keep them drawn down by strengthening the muscles around the shoulder blades in the back.
3. Improve spatial awareness – the “tweaks” required in Pilates are sometimes very subtle and over time, this ability to fine-tune the position of your body or access a deeper muscle, will increase your spatial awareness. This means that you will be aware of every single line and angle in your body when you are dancing and also more aware of where your body is in space – in relation to your partner (leading to better connection) and the other dancers on the dance floor (less collisions).
4. Increase fluidity and gracefulness – alongside better awareness and improved coordination, Pilates will help you move your body more gracefully because you will be more practised at fluid, flowing movement and have the muscular control to be able to achieve this. For instance, being able to fully point your feet and straighten your legs or do a flowing back bend or dance to slower music and be more “musical” with your body.
5. Improve your body isolations – in Pilates you learn to “switch on” the correct muscles (usually the internal stabilising muscles) and relax the often over-dominant bigger “global” or external muscles. This extra control in isolating muscles and limbs will help you be able to do a shoulder roll or rib isolation for example, without disturbing your connection to your partner.

Mandy Henderson, Dance and Pilates teacher.


Check out Mandy’s Facebook Page for helpful hints and tips here.

And Mandy’s bio below:

“I started dancing aged 10, learning Ballet, Modern and Tap, went to a full-time dance college (Bush Davies) from 16 to18, and then danced professionally all round the world for 10 years. I’ve been involved in the Health and Fitness Industry since the age of 18, working in gyms and leisure centres teaching aerobics, circuits and dance classes in between dancing contracts – as well as training my fellow dancers during contracts.

I discovered Pilates in 1999. I had a temperamental back, having sustained a few injuries whilst dancing and Pilates made me feel strong within my centre and my whole body felt more stable and supported. I loved the dance-like elegance and flow to the movements as well as retaining my flexibility; I was hooked! I qualified to teach Pilates in 2000, sensing that it was going to be a life-long love affair…

I went to my first Modern Jive class in 1990. I was enthralled to find a whole new world of dance in which I could express myself, plus it was sociable and fun at the same time! I have since learnt to dance Salsa, Argentine Tango and West Coast Swing and also teach these amazing dances. I love the spontaneity of social partner dances and the shared language of each dance which means you can connect and dance with anyone, anywhere, once you know the basics.

I now teach Pilates and Dance full-time and feel very blessed to be able to continue my passion and enthusiasm for teaching physical fitness alongside my first love – Dance!

I have over 30 years of experience of teaching people how to look after their bodies and investigating how to maintain optimum health, but I learn something new from my clients and my own body every day. Our bodies are amazing. My wish is for everyone to be able to move their bodies and do the things they love for as long as possible – that’s certainly my main goal as I reach the second century of my life.




Last Night a Dance Class Saved My Life


It’s true. Partner dancing saved my life. Don’t ask me why but it did.

I have always loved to dance, as a child I spent my time dressing up and choreographing routines to all my favorite records, from Abba to Edwin star and flight of the bumble bees.  Many a day spent in my leotard and disco glitter, closing my eyes and feeling the music, like only a child can. I never attended a dance class, something about our working class upbringing, we didn’t do things like that when I was a kid.


And as an adult I continued to go where the music and dancing took me.


Then I had a difficult period in my life like we all do, after all, that’s life.  Completely as a result of bad decisions I had made along the way.  To cut a long story short – I married the wrong man, a very difficult man and my life got tough for a long time.


In the middle of it I reached an all time low, my rock bottom.  And without realizing it, because life was difficult I had started drinking and partying hard


I had a big wake up call and realized that I was the only one who could change what had happened.  I got some help, sorted myself out, did some training and went on to work with 1000’s 1000′ s of people struggling with their bad habits and addictions.


It was as if someone was looking out for me.  In the early days, just as I was trying to sort myself out I met a very nice lady on a training course and she must have been able to see things weren’t great.  She asked me if I liked to dance, I said yes and she told me about her local modern Jive night and I met her there that week.


I loved it, it was such fun, and everyone was so friendly.  I carried on going every week doing the classes and then started going to some freestyles……I got the bug.  I danced every week, met loads of new people (none of which drank or took drugs) and best of all they didn’t know me, they knew nothing about me.  I could just turn up, dance talk to some people, have a great time and leave.


I went on to go to weekenders with my new dancing friends, it became a serious hobby.  Then I went to a west coast swing class and really fell in love with that.  Worked with a teacher, danced all around the world, France, America.  Going to London at the weekend.  Started competing and did quite well for an amateur.


I love partner dancing, it gave me exactly what I needed during an incredibly difficult time.  My life continued to take some twists and turns and was very difficult for a good few years while I was dancing.  But because of the dancing I had somewhere to escape, in more ways than one.  My only regret is that I didn’t start as a child.  I will do it for the rest of my life.  I can go anywhere in the world, look on line to find the nearest dance class and I can turn up, ask people to dance and have a lovely time usually only for £7.


The best bit is you can’t drink and jive…… No, seriously you just can’t do it.


If you have something in your life that you have always want to do, I urge you to go ty it.  Don’t let your nervousness stand in your way.  It can be the thing that makes a difference for you.


I have gone on to develop my own business helping others to change their bad habits and addictions.


I am currently pitching to win a competition to get help with marketing and promoting my new business.  Please vote for me, so I can help others to change their lives.


Click the link to vote it only takes a second.


Hopefully see you on the dance floor.


Best Wishes

Stephanie Chivers