Taking a look at my Facebook feed this week throws up a myriad of ways my newly graduated friends are spending their summer. From travelling to internships to acting like a grown up in a real, office-clothed job there is definitely no set requirement for us graduates right now. But for me life has been a little different than most others…
Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the Urban Dance Camp in Lorrach, Germany, where I was taught by 5 top international Hip-Hop choreographers and YouTube stars! The whole camp lasts a month and a half and we learn 4-5 different choreos from different teachers from 11am until 8pm, or sometimes 11pm! It is the world’s most prestigious and intense Hip-Hop dance training and those four days were the greatest workout I had ever undertaken.
I don’t tend to exercise too much. I am not competitive so didn’t try in sports. The gym was a far far away land I vowed to never conquer and I believe, to this day, that running should only be done unless chased… or late. I have, however, danced all my life. I used to train in Ballet and picked up Hip Hop and Salsa at university. But to me dance was never exercise, it was just dance.
I continued my tantrum and refused to ever do a workout video again!
My flatmate last year was a real exercise-monger and would do workout videos sometimes twice a day! After joining her for one such living-room exercise session (out of curiosity) my legs and thighs hurt for days – I could barely walk! The next day when I moaned to her about this she was confused; “but don’t you like that? That’s how you know you’ve used your body!”
I continued my tantrum and refused to ever do a workout video again! It didn’t make any sense to exercise/torture yourself for an hour and then be unable to use your legs for the next three days, to only then repeat the process again.
But on the second day of UDC…I couldn’t feel anything. My arms and legs and neck and feet… I had sacrificed every muscle in my body to the lords of Hip-Hop, and I didn’t care! I just stretched, got over it and pushed myself even further the next day!
That’s what clocked it for me, exercise speaking. My flatmate LOVED working out – it gave her a spirit for life and a unique energy! The muscle burn was a product of the endorphins she craved daily, and I found myself in the same position at UDC. I enjoyed coming home feeling exhausted and achey- because I knew I had put in my best effort during the day.
The difference with my dancing and my flatmate’s workouts is that I never think I’m working out when I dance. When I did her workout video, I was solely concentrated on exercise and reminded by the voice on the video. The moves were so boring to me and unnatural that I resented the trainer and the entire process.
But I never realise I’m sweating when I’m dancing – probably because I’m distracted with the steps and the music! With every move comes a story the choreographer wants to convey, and in order to perform the moves correctly, you need to allow yourself to be emotional and “feel” the movements to the music. In a way, dancing can exercise your mind and body at the same time if you allow it to!
But I never realise I’m sweating when I’m dancing – probably because I’m distracted with the steps and the music!
What this has taught me is that it is so important to ‘use’ our bodies, but that means different this to different people because the psychology of exercise changes from person to person. For me, dancing is perfect because I exercise without knowing it. But my flatmate, for example, likes to know and feel her body work! Ultimately you can only push your body to the max if you like what you’re doing! Never tried Hip-Hop? It might be the exercise you never knew you loved!