I wanted to talk about something different today.
I did have a lesson that went really well, reviewing rumba walks, cruzado walks and of course working on the rumba routine. Some interesting stuff there, but I will get into it in my next post 🙂
In addition to dance, I also do strength training 3 times a week, and I thought it might be interesting to talk a little about what I do in addition to dance and practice to help support the work I do in the studio.
I really enjoy strength training a lot. It is something I have done regularly for years–especially as my job requires a minimal amount of strength and mandatory fitness tests every year. Before I got sick, I was following a program provided to me for a rehabilitative specialist through my work that helped to support a permanent back injury I have from an accident during training several years ago. The specialist was aware of how much I danced and even met with Boss and I together once to discuss the work I do for dance and what type of cross training I needed which allowed her to adjust my program.
Unfortunately, after my second chemo treatment a year ago, I was faced with a decision of either continuing strength training or dance because I didn’t have the energy for both. That began a 1 year break from regular weight training workouts.
After my surgery, and once I got clearance, I was able to start back to a regular program working on my own at home, based on exercises and the programs I have done before which I put together myself. I can’t go back to working with the specialist until I come off of sick leave, which probably won’t be until after my next surgery.
Returning to weight training took some adjustment, and it is a little disheartening to see how much weaker I am compared with what I was doing before chemo. For example, I used to regularly do squats with a 50 lb kettle bell, and 3 planks for 1 minute each time. Now I can barely hold a plank for 35 seconds and I am doing squats with 5 lbs.
But, one of the things I enjoy about weight training is that if you always push to your max every workout, the next workout you are able to do just a little bit more.
I do work with free weights, a swiss ball and a balance board, and I try to do exercises that work multiple groups of muscles instead of just one. I also ‘super set’ meaning I combine two exercises working opposing muscles together before I take a break. Like all my work, my weight training program is very structured. I rest 1 minute between sets and 2 mins between exercises and set the timer on my phone to keep me on track.
My current program takes me about 1 hour to complete, and I do 3 sets of 12, or the max I can for each exercise. Currently, I am doing:
Goblet Squats followed by Plie Squats
Regular planks followed by side planks
Chest press/Chest Flies on a swiss ball followed by Arm Raises front and side
Swiss ball crunches followed by balance board stands (on toes like in waltz right now)
Modified Tricep Dips (with bent legs) followed by bicep curls on the balance board
I was just able to increase all my weights today for the first time, and definitely I am feeling it! I like how the strength training always gives me a goal to work towards–for example if I did 12, 12 and 10 of one exercise one day, then the next I aim for 12, 12, and 11.
The work on the balance board of course supports dance. I try to balance on the board with my standard frame up on my toes with my knees bent and my upper body counter balancing my knees. Boy does this show how many muscles in the body work to keep us in balance when we dance! I would recommend trying that to anyone–it’s much harder than it sounds.
I am hoping that with the regular strength training some of the parts of me that got a little ‘soft’ while I was sick will tone back up again, and those parts of me that toned up some while I was sick (my upper back has really changed thanks to standard!), will continue to get stronger. All of this supports my weight loss too, as more muscles means more calories burning.
Something interesting I noticed the other day from my fitbit–since I started back to dance and weight training after my surgery (about 2 months), my resting heart rate has dropped almost 10 beats per minute to below 60. I am really glad to see that as it indicates my cardio is improving and my metabolism is getting better. It also says that my body isn’t working as hard on healing as it was–so I see that as positive too! My resting heart rate was 52-55 BPM before I got sick, so it’s great to get back there.
There is a poster on my wall across from my chair in my living room with a quote I want to share. I have a small collage of some dance photos surrounding this poster with some ‘post its’ with small sayings to remind myself everything is worth working for. The quote is:
“It takes 4 weeks for you to notice your body changing.
It takes 8 weeks for your friends and 12 weeks for the rest of the world.
Give it 12 weeks. Don’t quit.”
It’s been 8 weeks since I started back to dance and 4 since I started weight training. After my next surgery I will start again. It’s amazing what you can do in 12 weeks.