Suddenly the front door to the dance studio swings open, and in rush several silly girls who each look about 13 or 14 years old. As they giggle their way through the lobby, down the hall, and into the back studio, I happen to notice their different hairstyles: One has a tight bun, one has a ponytail, and one has flowing auburn hair that needs to be brushed and put into place. They are carrying over-sized dance bags and wearing black leotards, pink tights, and big comfy boots.
I couldn’t help but notice how perfectly skinny and un-developed these young girls are. Strangely, it occurs to me that it will only be a few years until their youthful metabolism begins to fail, causing them to start hiding and hating their beautiful, maturing bodies. This inevitable turn of events strikes each of us at some point along our journey. But today, these lovely young dancers in thin pink tights fill the studio with carefree giggles and remind me of the days Patricia and I went to our boarding arts school together.
Patricia and I smile at each other as we listen to them giggle down the hall. Thinking back 30 years, I would have been the one with the high ponytail. Patricia would have been the one with the tight bun. And our friend, Annie, would have been the one with the gorgeous unruly auburn hair.
What a trio we were. We laughed all the time. They always teased me because tears would invariably stream down my face when I laughed really, really hard. Like the time we (okay, well, “I”) asked our 9th grade French teacher, Mr Countess, who was standing in the hall outside his classroom, a completely inappropriate question. “Mr Countess,” I said, batting my 14-year-old, mascaraed-eyelashes, “what does “vous les vous coucher avec moi ce soir” mean?” For one full second I pretend I’m serious. Then I burst out laughing, he turns beet red, and we quickly turn and run full speed down the academic hall, squealing hysterically, and thinking we are the funniest people in the world. I laughed ‘till I cried...
Three less animated dancers arrive next and proceed down the hall to the back studio. I wave and say to Patricia, “They’re rehearsing for a show they have next weekend.” “Ahhh… she says.” While a few of the mothers get comfortable in the lobby, one tells their teacher she is going to quickly run to the local gym and will be back to pick up her daughter at the end of rehearsal.
The GYM. The dreaded gym. Treadmills. Ellipticals. Stair-steppers. Weight-lifting. Kick-boxing. Step class. Yoga. Zumba. Have done them all, many times. Yawn. Yawn. Yawn. Don’t tell me dancers enjoy this type of exercise; they don’t. They’ll do it for fitness; but no, they will not love it. Yes, that’s right, sometimes they’ll do it; but they will not love it. Instead, what they instinctively love and compare everything to is the feeling they had as young dancers when moving to the music and learning to perfect their technique in ballet, jazz, contemporary, and hip-hop classes. Just my opinion, of course, but nothing compares to that sainted combination of art and exercise. The truth is, sometimes I dance because I enjoy the artistry of it, and sometimes I dance because I simply want (need) the fitness benefit of it. Not going to lie, there’s nothing more beautiful than a dancer’s body; and a huge advantage to dancing is that you can entertain your soul with the music and your passionate interpretation of the movement while sculpting your lower body and fooling yourself into burning 700 calories.
“I’m glad you told me about your online Instructor Certification Course for The Dancer’s Workout®,” Patricia says, resuming the conversation we’d had before the young dancers arrived. “I’m starting to understand why your dancers love these classes.”
“You know, Patty, I think there’s one additional aspect of The Dancer’s Workout® that makes adult dancers come back to class day-after-day, week-after-week… And I think it’s a really important element. These classes WORK. They are PHYSICALLY effective. They not only change spirits; they change bodies.” For both current and former dancers, these classes simultaneously challenge and preoccupy the mind, glorify the spirit, and trick the body into working hard. Really hard. The classes are so much fun that you don’t even realize how hard you are working and suddenly the hour is over. That’s what my students say all the time. “I didn’t want it to end!” “Wow, that went fast!”
Former dancers who start coming to class appear to lose weight quickly. It’s probably one of the most satisfying and fulfilling aspects of teaching The Dancer’s Workout®. As the weeks go by, you see bodies transform right before your eyes. You see shy, ashamed spirits which were initially hidden under baggy shirts EMERGE as the weight falls off their bodies and as they become the sculpted, lean, beautiful women they can finally bare to see in the mirror. It’s as if they become themselves again: a dancer.
Invariably, three weeks after starting to take class with us three times a week, they tell me their pants fit differently now. Their eyes sparkle with pride and joy over this. Within two months they are buying new clothes. They learn that the more they come to class, the more their bodies change. Many of my dancers have lost 25-40 pounds after finding The Dancer’s Workout®, and these classes have completely reshaped their physical appearance.
“I think the business goal with any adult dance program is to provide classes that are so compelling and effective that the student is willing to ultimately redirect their entire fitness budget to these classes. You basically want them to cancel their unused gym memberships and come to your classes instead. That means your classes need to be exceptional and need to be a comprehensive fitness solution which enables your ideal adult students to lose weight, get toned, increase flexibility, gain strength, and significantly increase their cardio endurance. The absolute key to this is that they should love your classes so much that they are able to get and stay in shape without hating the exercise process…” In fact, they now love the process!
“The Dancer’s Workout® does this by allowing us to dance to pop music, which we all love; by providing choreography that is super-fun, interesting, and challenging; by integrating ballet, jazz, contemporary, and beginner’s hip-hop choreography into each class in a way that provides an incredible cardio workout; by adding toning exercises to sculpt their bodies; and by delivering this class in an environment that is loving and non-judgmental.
The 40+ choreographed masterclasses provide that perfect balance. They keep current dancers in tip-top shape, and they offer a safe path back to dance for former dancers. For me, there is nothing more fulfilling than helping a former dancer reclaim her body and rediscover the dancer within her. This is why I created The Dancer’s Workout® in the first place, and this is why I created our online TDW Instructor Certification Course.
I want dance instructors all across the US to be able to experience this joy and be able to pay it forward to former dancers in their cities. I want these instructors to become the GO-TO dance studios for adult dancers in their areas, and I want to help them build their followings of adult dancers. In fact, one prayer I say over and over again is this: ‘Please Lord, put me in the path of someone who needs me.’ I say that prayer all the time; and then, as if by divine intervention, I find myself locking eyes with a new student who walks through the door to take my class. It’s an amazing feeling.”
“Hah,” Patricia gasps. “He did it again!” He put you in MY path! I needed you!” With that, she jumped up and gave me a big neck hug that rocked me back and forth. It felt so good to see Patty again after 30 years. Before the tears could fully well up in my eyes, she looks at her watch and squeals, “Oh! Look at the time! I’ve got a two-hour drive. I gotta go!” We hugged again and said how we should never have let so much time go by and how great it was to spend time with a trusted dance friend!
“There’s no place like home,” I say, “no place like home.” “Ahhh… The magic formula,” she says; and I just smile...
If you would like to expedite your journey of becoming the premier, go-to, adult-dance fitness studio in your area for ballet, jazz, and contemporary adult dancers, The Dancer's Workout® Online Academy offers a self-paced online course which will provide you with our comprehensive, turn-key solution.
Simply select one of your ballet dancers to become certified to teach The Dancer’s Workout® at your studio (or perhaps YOU want to become certified). One course fee provides you with registration credentials for two individuals, one for you (or your delegate) and one for your sponsored ballerina whom you would like to get certified to teach The Dancer's Workout®. In addition to providing over 30 choreographed songs (organized as three separate TDW masterclasses), the course includes 6 unique modules (with 4-5 lessons each) designed to teach you how to teach The Dancer's Workout® and how to build your studio's own community of loyal adult ballet, jazz, and contemporary dancers. We provide the leadership training, business processes, social media campaigns, and choreography needed to jumpstart and catapult your adult dance program.
More information about the course can be found here.
"The Dancer’s Workout® are adults-only classes that use ballet, jazz, contemporary, beginner's hip-hop, and toning exercises to recondition the body and spirit! These classes are great for current and former dancers, no matter how long it’s been! Visit www.thedancersworkout.com for more information. Join the TDW Movement and Rediscover the Dancer Within You!"
Click HERE for her featured bio on Dance Teacher+ magazine!
Jules Szabo is a UNC School of the Arts classical ballet graduate
Click HERE for her featured story on the UNCSA website!
For more information about Jules and The Dancer’s Workout®, visit www.thedancersworkout.com