I was brought up in an environment where everyone is expected to have a degree in order to survive. With this mentality, dancing, or any other form of art was not taken as seriously. Growing up where dancing was considered a hobby - and not a career - did not prepare me for when I first started to dance with my Russian partner, Andrey whom I fondly call the Terminator. He's a real sweetheart though outside of training, but when it comes to dance - oh boy.
I couldn’t walk the first week I started dancing with him. Literally.
My leg muscles were so sore that I couldn’t even tolerate the pain of standing – much less walk. During the first month training with him, pain killers were my best friend. The minty smell of muscle ointments still linger, haunting me. x.x
My normal day would go like this:
Wake up, go to the track oval for:
- warm up
- 5 rounds running with 10 sets of push ups in between rounds
- 5 straight rounds of non-stop running
- do core strengthening exercises
- cool down and stretch to improve flexibility
Breakfast – which consisted of greek yogurt with blueberries and/or raspberries on top and a protein shake.
Shower and get ready for dance practice.
At the dance studio (whole day).
When at the dance studio, we’d practice different aspects of our dancing. It usually starts with an hour of perfecting the Rumba Walks – which for me, is the foundation of the latin dances. Read more about how an hour of Rumba Walks each day can benefit your dancing here. After which, we’d do solo exercises which I can teach you on my next blog: Latin Warm Up Exercises. Then we’d improve our partnering skills and work on connection by doing basic syllabus for each of the 5 latin dances.
Would be lunch break where I’ll have a banana or a sandwich.
But on other times, I'd be true to myself and go for a full fried rice meal (I can’t live without rice - lots of it).
2 – 5:00 pm
Continue rehearsing our dance routine. On certain days, one of us has to teach in between rehearsals. Once every other week, we’d end rehearsal with a full-on non-stop five dance run to build stamina. We’d also add in a Competition Simulation or what most dancers call a ‘Practice Sweat’ a few weeks before a competition to add to our weekly rehearsal schedule.
5:00 pm onwards
We go do whatever we want! Finally. But at this point, all I'd want to do is rest my calloused feet (which would resemble a ginger by then) and curl up in bed.
Would be spent on cross-training, trying out other sports and fitness studios, or join a class consisting of other genres of dancing.
And that’s how my normal day would go when I was doing dance full-time with 'The Terminator' as I fondly call him. I think you now have an idea why the nickname.
Yes it was hard – but definitely worth it. It taught me a lot of things not just in dancing but also in my life. I used to be very complacent and let life happen to me. This taught me to push beyond my comfort zone.
It may feel difficult at first to wake up that early in the morning or to ignore pain and continue rehearsals, but with all else in life – you adapt. And I realized after the first month, I was already doing rounds of running without complain. I could do a hundred stomach crunches easily where I used to give up after twenty. I realized it’s the first hurdle that’s really difficult. But once you get past that, you can do even thrice of what you normally couldn’t do. Try it! I swear you can do it too!
It also taught me to be self-motivated. To go look for my own thing because nobody will do it for me and to rely on no one but myself. I have two words to take away from that chapter in my life. These were the 2 words Andrey so often repeated to me that we’d laugh now every time we remember it: STRONG and INDEPENDENT.
And strong and independent I will be.