Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Preparing for a Dance Competition

With the Fred Astaire Franchised Dance Studios National Dance Championships only a few weeks away, many dancers are already starting to prepare for the competition. In order to be fully ready for competition, you want to make sure you are treating your body right for the next few weeks so you are able to handle the demands of competing. Follow these nutritional guidelines to help yourself have the best performance possible!

1. Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is essential when it comes to your health and your performance. Once you feel thirsty, dehydration has already begun to set in. Even being slightly dehydrated can lower your ability to concentrate and impact your performance. You must drink water regularly throughout the day, especially leading up to competition.
The amount of water you should drink per day is based on your body weight. Take the number of how much you weigh and cut it in half. That shows you how many ounces of water you should be drinking per day. For example, someone who is 150lbs would need 75 ounces of water per day. Divide the number of ounces by 8 to estimate how many cups of water per day you need, and you get 9- 8 oz. glasses of water. Drink up!

2. Do Not Focus on Losing Weight

With the pressure of having to fit into costumes, it is understandable to experience some anxiety before a competition. The last thing you should do in the weeks leading up to competition, though, is go on a crash diet. That would drastically change what your body is used to and would deprive your body of the fuel it needs to strongly perform. Your strength and stamina will decline as your muscles and body lose the nourishment needed to keep up with the competition.

Instead, only adjust your diet to make sure it includes a balance of various healthy foods and leave out the “junk” foods. If you make this adjustment while also increasing your water intake, you will feel noticeably better and may even drop any extra weight you may feel you have in a natural way that won’t deprive your body.

3. Eat the Right Types of Food

Many styles of dance can cause the muscles to fatigue at a fast pace due to the short bursts of intense movement required for the choreography. During these types of activities, your body relies on blood sugar and your body’s stored carbohydrates to get through.

To avoid that feeling of exhaustion after a routine, introduce foods with complex carbohydrates into your meals for the weeks leading up to the competition. These include whole grain breads, pasta and fruit. These will give your body the energy it needs while keeping your blood sugar level consistent. Foods such as candy and soda will spike your blood sugar and should be avoided because after the initial short burst of energy it provides, it then causes you to crash quickly with little to no energy left afterwards.

4. Don’t Try to Drastically Change your Diet

You want to make sure you are eating healthy leading up to a competition but doing a 180 degree turn with your diet will do more damage than good! Your body has adjusted to your day to day diet so changing too much, too fast can have a negative effect on your strength and stamina. A bigger potential risk is not knowing the type of reaction your body could have to a newly introduced food. Having an adverse reaction to something this close to competition could potentially put you OUT of the competition!

Instead of completely changing your diet right away, slowly make healthy adjustments in the weeks leading up to the competition. A healthy diet for dancers consists of 50-65% Carbohydrates such as pastas and baked potatoes, 12-15% Proteins such as lean meats and legumes and 20-30% healthy fats from foods like avocados, nuts and seafood. Keeping this balance will help increase your stamina, energy and help to repair and build muscles.

For 24-48 hours before a competition, it is also probably a good idea to avoid foods that are salty and that can cause bloating such as beans, cucumber, cabbage and cauliflower. Bloating triggered by these foods could cause pain which will pull your focus away from your performance.

5. Portion your Meals Correctly

It is easy to notice that over time, food portions have gotten larger and larger. Many times, you may not even realize that you are unintentionally consuming numerous unnecessary calories. Even if you are eating the right types of foods, eating too much of them can still have a negative impact on your body.

A simple way to determine an appropriate portion size for your body is by actually using your own hand as a measurement. By cupping your hand and imagining how much food you could hold in it (a level amount, not heaping) is considered one handful. If you use that as a measurement and base your portions on serving yourself approximately two handfuls of carbohydrates or grains, two handfuls of fruits or vegetables and a portion of meat or protein the size and width of your palm, you will avoid overeating.

Another way to avoid overeating at a meal is to make sure you eat small, healthy snacks in between meals if you get hungry. Beginning a meal when you are very hungry will make it easier to go for the second or even third portion. By curbing that hunger beforehand with a healthy snack, you can make sure to choose your portions based on health instead of hunger.

6. Eat on Performance Day

It’s normal to be stressed before any performance but make sure you don’t let that stress keep you from eating on the morning you are supposed to perform at the competition! When you skip a meal before performing, you set your body up to fatigue quickly and you risk experiencing the side effects of low blood sugar. These side effects can include shakiness, nausea, dizziness, or even blurred vision, all of which could very much lower the quality of how you dance.

Even enjoying a few healthy snacks leading up to your performance such as a banana, yogurt, a handful of nuts, or a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread will help curb the side effects. It could also help calm your stomach if you tend to experience that ‘butterfly’ feeling before going on.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Health Benefits of Dancing

Whether you flaunt your every move on the dance floor or sway to your favorite songs in the car, dance is an activity that everybody enjoys in one way or another. Luckily, dancing is something that will not only bring a smile to your face but will also help improve your physical and mental health. It is great exercise that gets your mind and muscles working no matter who you are. With so many styles from Ballet to Ballroom Dancing, it’s easy to find a dance class and get started. Enjoy your favorite past time while gaining all of these great benefits with every step you take.

  • Increased Strength and Health- Dancing is exercise so, naturally, it will assist in strengthening your bones and muscles. As your strength increases, you will have more energy to continue dancing. Your increased level of physical activity and exercise will help prevent illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and depression and reduce the risk of osteoporosis as your bones become stronger.
  • Boost Memory- When you exercise, the levels of chemicals in your brain that encourage nerve cells to grow is increased and since dancing requires you to remember various steps and sequences, your brain power is boosted which helps to improve your memory. Dancing incorporates several brain functions at once- kinesthetic, rational, musical, and emotional. Utilizing all of these at the same time can further increase your neural activity, helping to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
  • Improve Flexibility- To get the most out of your dance moves, it helps to consistently stretch your muscles. Start with some simple, at home stretches and don’t push your body beyond what it can handle to keep from hurting yourself. Soon, you will notice the stretches will become easier and you will not be experiencing as much soreness or joint pain after dancing as you may have experienced when you started. Over time, your flexibility and agility will increase and you will notice you have better overall coordination.
  • Balance Better –In order to execute each move and sequence correctly, you will need to be able to maintain a strong center of gravity.  As you learn each movement and begin to gain increased flexibility and strength, your posture, balance and spatial awareness will naturally begin to improve, making each step easier for you to complete.
  • Strengthen Your Heart- Dancing is great cardiovascular exercise. As you continue to dance and notice your strength and grace improving, you will witness an increase in your stamina. Your heart rate will stay steady longer and you will not have the feeling of being out of breath as the condition of your heart and lungs improves.
  • Reduce Stress- When you are dancing, your body is fully in that moment, focused on the music and your surroundings. Being around friends or that someone special to enjoy dancing to your favorite music can help you focus on strictly the moment you are in and aid in reducing the amount of cortisol your brain produces (the hormone that is associated with stress), lowering your stress and tension levels.
  • Diminish Depression- Learning to dance is an accomplishment that everyone can achieve. Not everyone believes that they are capable of achieving it so once you start dancing and begin to see how quickly you improve, your confidence and self-esteem naturally increase, both on and off the dance floor.
  • Lose Weight- The consistent movement that dancing provides utilizes multiple muscle groups at the same time, helping to tone your entire body. A study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that an exercise program of aerobic dance training is just as effective as jogging or cycling in order to improve body composition and aerobic strength. You may even notice a natural shift in your eating habits as you begin to feel healthier from your dancing, which also will aid in weight management.
  • Social Improvement- Everybody enjoys meeting new people and dancing provides a fun environment to meet people who have the same interest as you- they want to learn how to dance! This type of environment is perfect to either utilize your social skills if you are outgoing or to help strengthen your social skills if you have a quiet personality. Dancing is a great way to meet new friends and improves your social outlook while in an atmosphere where you can feel safe and comfortable.

As you can see, dance is a fun and exciting way to become and stay the healthiest you possible. With the holiday season right around the corner, dancing is a great way to stay in shape! Start dancing today!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Importance of Good Technique

When it comes to dance, no truer words were spoken than what was said by British poet and dramatist, John Dryden in the 1600’s, “Dancing is the poetry of the foot.” Whether dancing in front of an audience or dancing down a street on a sunny afternoon, the feet write and display the graceful beauty of dancing. They are, after all, the most fundamental aspect and building blocks for any dancer.

In the world of dance, the requirement for good technique and precision means correct use of the legs and feet, the footwork. Similar to building a home, careful attention is taken when constructing the foundation. No one would say to a builder, “Forget about the foundation; just focus on making the walls and architecture look pretty!” You don’t have to be a builder to know that a home with a poor foundation will not stand when it is subjected to even the smallest amount of stress. Paying close attention to the footwork in dance is also the fundamental foundation to good technique.

Incorrect use of the feet while dancing can lead to a ripple effect of issues that, in return, impact the rest of the body’s movement: lack of transition into the next move, change of rhythm, inability to keep up in speed, unable to keep up with a partner, loss of rhythm in hip and torso action and the list goes on. The cure for all of those issues is correct use of the feet and legs along with accuracy when performing the footwork. Everything a dancer does, rising, leaping, slowness, quickness, swaying, and action, are all connected with and credited to the feet.

When we stop for a moment and realize what the feet are capable of and how intelligently they work with the legs, it is amazing how often they are ignored. Many doctors recommend the best way to keep your body feeling young is to stay active. Dancers have to move in 10 different directions at once and be able to switch quickly, building great coordination along with weight bearing, increasing bone density and strengthening joints. Footwork also has a positive effect on the rest of the body like improving cardiovascular fitness, increasing circulation, and decreasing blood pressure.

 If you are looking to get started in ballroom dancing lessons for the benefits in footwork or health, our dance studios are required to maintain the highest standards of excellence through our National Dance Board and Fred Astaire Franchised Dance Studios curriculum certification.

 Mr. Fred Astaire, considered to be the greatest multitalented dancer of all time, wanted to establish a chain of studios under his name to make sure that his techniques would be preserved and passed onto the public. Our chain of studios all over North America offer an array of ballroom dancing lessons for beginners and professionals alike. For more information on Fred Astaire Dance Studios, visit www.fredastaire.com

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Last weekend was the annual Fred Astaire Dance Studios World Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fred Astaire Studio Locations from around the world all traveled to The Mirage Hotel and Casino to compete in several categories. 

Here is a list of our 2014 FAWC champions: 

Category: Closed Bronze/Silver Smooth
Dance Champions: Matthias Kruschel and Christine Schlegl
Fred Astaire Dance Studio: Norwalk

Category: Showdance
Dance Champions: Aaron and Iryna DeSoto
Fred Astaire Dance Studio: Chicago North

Category: Closed Bronze/ Silver Rhythm
Dance Champions: Dennis Sy and Mae Lozada
Fred Astaire Dance Studio: NY Midtown

Category: American Rising Star Smooth
Dance Champions: Adrian and Hannah Dydynski
Fred Astaire Dance Studio: Chicago West Loop

Category: American Closed Mixed Novice
Dance Champions: Ty Gibson and Nikki Azcona
Fred Astaire Dance Studio: Montville

Category: American Rising Star Rhythm
Dance Champions: Aaron and Iryna DeSoto
Fred Astaire Dance Studio: Chicago North

Category: Open Cabaret
Dance Champions: Brandon barker and Chelsea Cherie
Fred Astaire Dance Studio: Canal Winchester

Category: American Open Smooth
Dance Champions: Misha and Galina Zharinov
Fred Astaire Dance Studio: Miami Beach

Category: Open International Latin
Dance Champions: Hayk Balasanyan and Emilia Poghasyan
Fred Astaire Dance Studio: Montville

Category: American Open Rhythm
Dance Champions: Vard Margaryan and Sofya Fil
Fred Astaire Dance Studio: Hartsdale

Category: Open International Ballroom
Dance Champions: Dmitry and Christina Durante
Fred Astaire Dance Studio: Madison

Congrats to all our champions and a special thank you to all the Fred Astaire Dance Studios who came to Vegas to compete! 

Here are a few more pictures from the competition: 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

This Month's Obesession: The EasyGo Dispenser Protein Powder Dispenser

As dancers you must take your post-exercise nutrition seriously in order to provide your muscles with the raw materials and nutrients they need. Any nutritionist will tell you that post-workout eating is the most important aspect of fitness nutrition. Within 45 minutes of any workout, you need to have protein to supply your body with amino acids and help promote muscle building and recovery.

If your daily activities rarely allow time for a home cooked meal, you can still make sure you get your protein fix with the EasyGoDispenser. The EasyGo Dispenser is a protein powder dispenser that was designed for athletes and outdoor enthusiasts. It will carry a full day’s worth of protein powder and the measuring unit dispenses precise amounts of powder and fits into any shaker cup or water bottle. The base storage unit keeps your powder fresh and the EasyGo Dispenser is small enough to fit into any bag and bring with you no matter where you go.

The EasyGo Dispenser was developed by three Army soldiers. While deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, they realized that there was no easy way to make an instant protein shake – a common source of nutrition for soldiers. So in order to make it easier to get a proper meal replacement via protein powder, they came up with the idea for the EasyGo Dispenser. 

With the EasyGo Dispenser you will recieve the perfect amount of protein to help rebuild and recharge your body after your workout or dance practice. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

This Month's Obsession: Laura Mercier Face Primer

As your dance students and pros transition from practice to performances, you’re feeling prideful and so are they. You’ve taught them the dance skills they need to stand out on the dance floor, and now it’s time to show them how to make their makeup pop too! Introduce your performers to this month’s favorite beauty pick - the new Laura Mercier Face Primer in Radiance

Primer is the secret weapon for achieving flawless skin and making your makeup last. It preps the skin for makeup, fills in pores and fine lines, and creates a smooth base that makeup can adhere to.  With this beauty must-have, your performers can say good-bye to their makeup slipping and sliding as they sweat their way through their dance routine.

Laura Mercier created the beauty industry’s first ever makeup primer and just recently reinvented her popular primer and made the newest version which adds luminosity and radiance to skin. This lightweight, creamy vitamin-rich gel not only makes your skin glow, but also acts as a buffer to outside elements and holds your foundation in place for hours. 

Not sure how to apply primer? Here are step by step instructions:

Step 1: Apply primer onto your face the same way you would apply your moisturizer. Be sure to apply all areas as evenly as possible, but it’s okay to use a little extra in places where your makeup tends to wear off quickly, such as in the T-zone area.

Step 2: Apply your foundation and concealer as you normally would. Notice that the colors of your makeup look so much better!

Note: There are also primers designed for eyelids which make your eye shadow last all day and night and help you get the most out of even the cheapest eye shadows.

Use this secret weapon to help your students achieve the ultimate makeup look before the next event or special occasion. Now people won’t just recognize Fred Astaire dancers for their suave moves, but for their flawless, long-lasting makeup as well!

Monday, June 09, 2014

Are the "Healthy" Foods You're Eating REALLY Healthy?

Reduced-fat peanut butter: Reduced-fat peanut butter has nearly as many calories as the full fat version plus added sugars, more sodium and partially hydrogenated oils which are the unhealthy fats that raise cholesterol. So basically, when you’re making this substitution you’re really trading heart-healthy fats for empty carbs and sugars. One tablespoon of reduced-fat peanut butter is 95 calories, has 6g of fat and 110mg of sodium. Instead, opt for an all-natural peanut butter like Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter which has no salt and is 105 calories and 8g of fat.

Granola: Granola is loaded with carbs and high in calories. It usually also contains high amounts of added sugars and oil. Instead, choose a whole grain cereal which tends to be a great source of healthy fats, fiber and protein.

Flavored oatmeal: Flavored instant oatmeal can be high in sugar and sodium causing you to eat empty calories that provide no nutritional benefits. Swap flavored oatmeal for whole rolled or steel cut oats which don’t contain added salt or sugars and contain the same amount of fiver and protein. Add some fresh fruit or honey for extra flavor.

Bars: Many energy, fiber and protein bars are just glorified candy bars. Save yourself some sugar and calories and substitute these for an apple or a spoon of peanut butter instead. You’ll get your protein fix without bursting out of your skinny jeans. 

If you need a quick meal replacement while on-the-go you can make your own protein shake. However, be very cautious about protein shakes that you can buy at smoothie stores or gyms. Instead, carry your own supply of protein powder in a powder dispenser like EasyGo Dispenser so you can quickly make a shake no matter where you are. The EasyGo Dispenser allows you to carry a days’ worth of protein powder and easily dispenses into any water bottle or shaker cup so you can make a mess-free shake for a snack or meal replacement.

Multigrain bread: Whole wheat bread has more essential nutrients and dietary fiber than multigrain bread. Unless your multigrain bread is made with whole grains you might as well be eating white bread!