How to get back into​ the studio (if it’s been a while)

There are so many issues that come into play after an injury or a break from training.  Whatever the reason for the break – school, work, family – whether the reason was positive or negative, after a long break, it can be super hard to get back to the barre. Weight gain, fear of lost skills, calendars that quickly fill up and over those hours that we once spent dancing, muscles tighten, and injuries that still hurt.

But muscles do have memory, more than we give them credit. Weight will come back off over time. Our schedule will open up to fit a class and then another and then another. We learn to work with the changes after an injury, and sometimes it even makes us better if we give it enough room and effort. But we do have to figure out how to self-motivate and self-inspire a grand return.

Calendar, calendar, calendar. Schedule the class and put it on your calendar. It’s truly half the battle because once you’ve booked the class, everything else is just follow through. I like to pay for a package, schedule my classes, write it on my calendar a month or more ahead. Once I’ve paid for it and made the commitment, even when I’m not feeling it, I’m much more likely to follow through. Especially if I book classes with a friend, you never want to let a ballet pal down.

Go shopping! New dance gear inspires and encourages. I do love a new leotard, dance skirt, maybe some new warmers to make me excited to get to class. Something pretty drives me right to the barre. I also love to shop for ballet gear when I travel so having a dance-related souvenir is not only special in class but brings back all those great vacation feels.

Be real and realistic. If you’ve been out of class for a length of time, especially for an injury, it’s a really good idea to let your teacher know. When I first went back after my foot injury, I had to be really careful and couldn’t do everything every class. It was important for my teacher to know so that he could keep an eye on me and adjust the exercises here and there. Also just letting him know that I hadn’t really worked out much so I was feeling tight and slow and chubby helped him help me set the pace wisely and move back well and not push too much or too hard. Discouragement from expecting too much too soon isn’t a good thing.

Set a good and reasonable (reachable) pace. When I went out due to injury, I was taking multiple classes almost every day of the week. It was great. But I was out for years and a lot changed during that time. Even though I wanted to jump back in with both feet and start signing up classes left and right, I couldn’t. That was HARD. I wanted to dance, but it was really important that I paced myself carefully at first and then increased the pace slowly but surely so that I can keep dancing… forever.

Depending on the injury, go back to the basics. I had a foot injury so even though I could almost start back where I had left off in terms of the level of difficulty of my classes, I started over. From the beginning. It worked for the best because I had to learn how to dance on the damaged foot in a new way and since you use both feet for ballet, I had to learn how to deal with both feet in a new way.  Sometimes starting over is a great opportunity to work deeper and develop stronger.

Call in your people. There is nothing like your ballet gang whether it’s there in class or on social media, ballet peeps are the best. Let them know what you’re going through, and you can bet that you will get some serious and much-needed encouragement and accountability. A great come back will almost always be accompanied by a great group of friends. Let your people be there for you, it will mean the world to you.

“Even if you did nothing for months, you can return to peak fitness eventually. It might take longer, but that’s okay.  Your sanity and life enjoyment are more important than a couple of weeks of missed training here or there.”

~Laura Fleshman

All will be well. Let’s dance!

Finally ready to join you all in 2015

I know a lot of people don’t like New Year’s resolutions and the like but as a planner and an organizer, I enjoy the whole process of a new beginning. Each new page on my daily planner is a wide open space and I look forward to that opportunity. Each new day, week, month, year presents to me a brand new canvas and I think that is exciting!

Last year meshed right into this year as we said our final goodbyes to my sweet mother-in-law. There was nothing warm, comforting, nor Hallmark card about it. The jagged edge of this parting makes it all the more difficult to wrap the whole thing up neatly and move on.

It seems like the last big chunk of years has been tethered to this or that, all the different and difficult phases of my PhD, particularly the dissertation; my mother-in-law’s life altering stroke and now her passing. Everything in my life has been wound and wrapped around these things. Now I should feel free but instead I feel rather precariously out on a ledge and very much without direction.

Remember that scene in The Shawshank Redemption where Andy crawls through the poop pipe? Freedom is on the other side but oh, the journey!!! I think I’m feeling a little like Red when he was released – Red was here too. A combination of Andy and Red. Okay, it’s certainly not that bad. But I do feel like I’ve crawled through the pipe and I’m still standing in all that mess. I’m at my heaviest weight ever, I’m completely out of shape, the stress and worry has taken its toll, and in many ways I feel like I’ve hit some place that very much has a rock bottom to it.

And still I rise – in the words that sound in my mind in the fabulous voice of Dr. Maya Angelou. I know it’s the end of the January but I’m ready for my New Year to begin. I may be a little behind but I’m here, I’m out of the pipe, and I’m ready to find myself again. And I’m ready to do that with music and movement. I think I’m finally ready for a ballet class.

All will be well. Who wants to dance with me?

Image from the Internet. Owner unknown.

Image from the Internet. Owner unknown.