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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.

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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.

 

 

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