Does anyone else have trouble sticking to a practice schedule? I know I do. I currently run 2 businesses (crazy, I know) and they’re all a bit irregular in time so finding the same time of day to practice every day is a challenge for me. But I recently sat down and planned out which day to do what and instead of trying to find time, I am simply making the time. This isn’t a perfect system, sometimes I’m simply too tired to move. But it’s good to have something to refer back to and motivate me even on days where working out is the last thing on my mind.
Here’s a bit of how and why I designed my training schedule:
I think of my practice schedule as my training schedule, in that I don’t only focus on dance practice but other exercises that help me the best dancer I can be. I think of it more as an athletic schedule since dancers don’t only need to practice dance. Runners do strength training exercises, swimmers do flexibility training, and so on. First, I wrote down different fitness categories:
Notice that I didn’t include speed in the plan because as a dancer, that’s not important to me. I’m not concerned about running a marathon at my fastest speed, so it doesn’t have a place in my training. For the rest, however, I aim for this amount:
6x a week for bellydance practice at 30 minutes each
3x a week for endurance at 30 minutes
4x a week for flexibility at 30 minutes
Daily for strength for 30 minutes
Because I have some problems with my back and shoulder (ironically, thanks to dance), I aim to do daily strength training exercises to build my muscle strength and prevent further injury. As per the recommendation of my physiotherapist, I should be doing strength training for my shoulder everyday so that’s why it’s in my schedule. However, you don’t have to add it to your own. In fact, 3 times a week would be sufficient.
Forms of exercise
You can do whatever form of exercise you want but I plan for the ones I actually enjoy (most of the time). If you don’t enjoy a certain activity, you aren’t going to be motivated to do it at all. I jog for endurance to keep my heart healthy and to avoid getting out of breath when I dance (or when I climb the stairs), do yoga for flexibility (but could also double for strength depending on what kind you do), and strength band exercises for strength training. I try and do yin yoga which is just deep stretching and now that my boyfriend and I are installing an awesome boxing bag in our new apartment, I enjoy doing some cardio with kickboxing. If I can make it to a dance class I choose to go to dancehall because it’s super fun and also a great workout. If I had the patience to go to the public swimming pool here in Berlin, I would much rather do that than jog a mile. One of the rare times I miss being in Florida, ha. But I don’t feel like traveling to the public swimming pool 3 times a week, then having to change there, do my workout, take a shower and change and come all the way back home. That alone is at least 2 hours out of my day and I don’t have time for that. I have more energy to exercise in the early evening but I know that if I feel better when I do it in the morning to get it out of the way.
So here is a quick overview of each type of exercise I personally do:
3 sets of 15 reps
Upper body exercises with resistance bands
Abdominal exercises with a yoga ball or pilates ring
Lower body exercises with resistance bands or pilates ring
Jog 1 Mile at local track, walk total of 1.2 miles to and from track
30 minutes of kickboxing
30 minutes of shimmy drills and abdominal exercises (e.g., flutters and belly rolls)
30 minutes of slow drills (e.g., stretching out the mayas)
30 minutes of yin yoga
I try and meditate 10 minutes a day which I also recommend. As you can see in my calendar below, I try and block out 30 minutes of each exercise and depending on my mood and mix it up with the different options above.
Prepping for a competition
Notice in the schedule at the bottom of the page there is a second tab that says “12 week plan for competitions”. This is similar to the regular schedule except for regular dance practice I’ve added in choreographing 6x a week. This is to help know your routine inside and out by the 12 week mark and gives you time to finish the choreography, practice it, adjust if it necessary, and learn it well enough that you can focus on enjoying while competing. The more you know your routine the better you can connect with the audience!
How I try to stay on track
Life happens and I don’t always get to stick to my schedule but I try my hardest because I believe in order to be a pro, you have to have the lifestyle of one. 3 jobs be damned, I will make time for this!
To stay on top of my strength training exercises I usually do it while watching some sort of tv show. For me, resistance band training is repetitive and boring but something I need to do to strengthen my shoulder and back, so I try and make it a bit more interesting by watching the latest crime drama episode. I sometimes jog with a friend or my boyfriend, and that’s the best way to get me out of the house because I’ve committed to plans with another person and that’s harder to break compared to if I jog alone. I have a hidden YouTube playlist of my favorite fitness videos and that’s where I follow along for yoga and sometimes for resistance band exercises and even kickboxing. For dance practice I put on my favorite pop music and try and spend one full song with one particular exercise. So one Amr Diab song at around 4 minutes spent doing just for shimmy drills, for example.
How to create your own schedule
Now that I’ve told you a bit about my training schedule, how do you plan on making yours? I would suggest starting off easy and scheduling blocks of 15 minutes at first and then working up to 30 minutes. If you start off doing too much at first you will overwhelm yourself and quit altogether. Start off slow with 15 minutes at first and after 2 weeks, add in another 5 minutes, and so on. You can grab my schedule here and click File, Make a copy, to create your own!
You can grab my schedule here.
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