Friday, May 13, 2016

10 tips To Improve Your Dancing Through Zumba

If you're new to dancing and want to become a better dancer through Zumba, here are my top 10 tips:

1) Watch yourself in the mirror
There's a reason why people make a dash to the mirrors when they enter a studio. It's an aid to keep their alignment and timing in check. If you work out in a space without mirrors, watch with your peripheral vision or even your shadow. Practice where you can see yourself, including your sides. You'll be surprised how quickly you'll improve when you do.

2) Practice good posture
Even the best moves are spoiled by bad posture. Posture helps you maintain balance and make graceful movements. A quick way to keep tabs on your posture is to imagine that your body is suspended in the air by a rope coming out of your chest. If you have a sedentary job, make sure you're taking regular breaks and stretch. Keep your chin up, chest out, shoulders back and relaxed.

3) Pretend to play an instrument
To keep in time with the rhythm, imagine you are playing a "drum" as you dance. You can use you hands and feet to mark the beats with the moves. Sometimes I gently tap my foot or I discreetly tap the roof of my mouth with my tongue to keep in time with the rhythm. Keep counting the beats from 1-8 throughout the track. You will learn to find the beats without thinking about it.

4) Anticipate a move change on beat 6 or 7
An extension from the previous tip is that once you can pick the first beat and the eighth, you pre-empt the next move on the 6th or 7th beat. Your Zumba instructor might cue at this point. You can expect a repeat of the move or a new one even if it's a track you've not done before. On the eighth beat, you should getting in position for the next move, shifting your weight or turning your body in anticipation of the next step. You want your move to be correct on beat 1.

5) Minimise your reaction time
When you're new, there will be a delay from watching the instructor do the move and when you do it. It's a combination of observing, reacting and getting into position. Reaction time is minimised by anticipating the move. You might not get it correct the first time but at least there isn't an awkward pause where you stand like a deer in headlights. Stay moving on the beat. As you get to know the instructor, it becomes faster and easier to predict their moves.

6) Know the parts of a Zumba track
A track usually has set moves for the intro, verses, chorus and interlude. Listen and remember the order of verses, chorus and interlude. As you learn the track, you can pick out these parts and recall the corresponding moves. If you really enjoy a track, ask your instructor for the title of a song so you can learn the music and practice at home.

7) Build up your imagery bank
The more you practice and watch yourself, you build an imagery bank on the way you dance and what you look like when moves are done correctly or incorrectly. So as you're learning, recall what you have seen from tip 1. Over time your memory bank allows you to pinpoint repeated alignment issues and visualise new moves. 

8) Engage all muscles in your body
Moves are not confined to moving just the most obvious body parts like the hands or feet. A move looks more natural when the body reacts to it. Practice isolating muscles by circling only your hips or chest. Notice how muscles around the abdomen are either pulling or pushing? Remember for every reaction, there is a reaction. If something has to pull forward, there is something pushing it so remember that all muscles in your body needs to be engaged in the move. This enhances your workout and defines the moves. 

9) Add weight to your movements
To enhance body control, add imaginary weight to your hands, feet or whichever areas that need to move. Let's say the move is to put your hands above your head and wave them around. Imagine as if you a cans of soft drink attached to the palm of your hands. You create resistance in your arms. It looks more controlled than as if they were weightless. Not only do you burn more calories but helps you keep in time with the rhythm. 

10) Keep transitions fluid
To do this you're connecting the "end and start points" of the moves and making the transition as fluid as possible. There should be continuity in your movement so the moves flow seamlessly into each other.

On a final note, don't forget to keep smiling. Zumba is meant to be enjoyed and happiness looks good on everyone.

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