Dance saved my life. No, I never took dance classes as a child. Richard Simmons was about as complicated as my childhood dancing got, and that was with my mom at home. The only clubs I danced in were in Europe (and there is no photographic evidence). Watching So you Think you can Dance is practically a necessity for me, though I probably couldn’t dream of doing half of what those kids can. Still, dance will always have a soft spot in my heart.
When you think of dance, you probably imagine a cute little girl in a tutu twirling ecstatically. I am not one of those cute little girls in a pink tutu. Here are a couple of my dance stories, and how it ended up saving my life.
My very first formal dance was my 9th grade dance. My forest green dress was gorgeous, and I had an awesome group of friends that were going to dance the night away. Being the non-popular crowd, we ended up standing on the sidelines staring at the few couples that had dates.
I may have been heavy, but I didn’t lack confidence! I told my friends I wouldn’t stand there all night long. So, I walked up to the first boy in my class, and asked him to dance. By the end of the night, I had asked almost every single guy in my class to dance. Few said no.
My next dance story is from junior year at high school. As a junior club officer, I had planned the decorations and coordinated my prom. I physically couldn’t dance much at this event, mostly because I had suffered from my first major medical setback.
That medical setback was something most kids my age never had to deal with. When I was 16, I woke up with incredible lancing pain in my stomach around 2am. Within an hour, the excruciating pain finally subsided and I was able to go back to sleep.
After several months of this, Mom took me to see the doctor. I had gall stones, at the tender age of 16. To put this into perspective, my grandmother had just had her gall bladder removed due to gall stones. While genetic, they can also be caused by a poor diet.
My initial reaction was: “OK, let’s get surgery”. That’s what you did, right? After all, Grandma had it.
Nope, my doctor was not keen on putting me through surgery for a disease that could be controlled through diet. Um, bye-bye pizza and fried chicken.
Until that night after our Friday pizza night that I woke up and the pain wouldn’t subside. In desperation, I rocked back and forth all night grabbing my stomach and praying for an end. By morning, the pain suddenly and inexplicably changed. It wasn’t as sharp-almost as if it was hidden behind a wall.
Mom took me to the ER, and they admitted me right away. My gall stone had lodged in my pancreas, which caused the bile produced by my pancreas to flood my stomach. I needed surgery right away. On top of it, they needed to drain that poisonous bile out of my stomach. Gross!
After a week in the hospital and a couple of transfusions, I no longer had the gall. All I could think about was getting out of there so I could dance to junior prom!
Fast forward several years to my senior year of college. That was when I finally discovered the power of dance to improve my health. I was morbidly obese by this time, and determined to start a new journey. Not being a big fan of running or team sports, I chose an exercise that made more sense for my size and interest.Love to dance? Get special dance discounts HERE @thedancemile Click To Tweet
By the way, there are so many health benefits of dance that we should all just stop and cut the rug. Here are 9 health benefits of dance, thanks to an article on Everyday Health.
1. Boost memory and prevent dementia
2. Improves flexibility
3. Reduce stress (who can frown while shaking it off?)
4. Diminish depression
5. Prevent cardiovascular disease
6. Lose weight (like 100 pounds
7. Increase balance
8. Boost energy
9. Make friends
Remember, I had never been in any sort of dance class or group throughout my childhood. So, I had to start small and avoid looking like a darn fool. Hence began my living room dance parties.
Thanks to favorites like Kathy Smith and Jenifer Galardi, I discovered Latin and hip-hop dance routines. Now 100 pounds lighter, I needed something more challenging. I tried several local Zumba classes, then returned to my favorite hip-hop at CM’s Fitness. I even tried belly dance classes, and explored hoop-dancing with the likes of Jessica Bessette and Theresa Rose.
As with all exercise, I started plateauing. Dance was not challenging me enough, so I began lifting more weights and focusing on HIIT. Then, I discovered YouTube streaming.
Can you imagine having access to an unlimited amount of free dance routines and resources? All from the comfort of your home? Yes, after all these years, I was still a closet dancer. At my matronly age, dancing in clubs was no longer a consideration and my husband has two left feet. I needed something fresh, sexy and safe.
Enter Keaira LaShae and The Fitness Marshall. Yes! Check them out to shake up your routine. By the way, Keaira cheers you on without too much complicated choreography, and “Marshall” just makes me smile with his mad skills and attitude (plus his Britney love).
Because dance is so important to me, and it’s a type of exercise that anyone can do- from toddlers to wheelchairs, I wanted to share a fun event for my local Twin Cities folks. There is an amazing event called The Dance Mile on August 6, 2016. Because of my love for dance, I was able to secure discounted tickets to anyone reading this post. Enter your email below for details on discounted tickets (offered to subscribers only!).