By Kennia Ramirez
As the ball dropped and welcomed 2012, I committed to the 100 Days of Dance Challenge as my personal New Year’s resolution. It was actress Kirstie Alley who inspired me through a global grassroots movement she founded to encourage people to take up dance as their daily exercise routine. Basically, all the challenge called for is that I dance for a minimum of a half hour each day for one hundred consecutive days. My daily dose of dance could be done anywhere and in any way as long as I danced – easy enough, right?
Eager to get started, I set out to find whatever dance studio, nightclub or event would meet my requirement of getting my groove on. Sometimes, even my living room served as my dance floor. The fact that you could dance almost anywhere eliminates the typical “excuses” people tend to use for not exercising. Regardless of the weather, what time it was or how I felt, getting up for thirty minutes and dancing is all I needed to do.
This was definitely the most fun and sustainable New Year’s resolution I’ve ever made - you don’t have to twist my arm to go out dancing. Over the course of the challenge, I found that whenever I felt tired or stressed out, best solution was to just dance. Each time I started moving my feet and felt the rhythm of the music flow through me, I experienced a sense of joy, well-being and exhilaration that has been immensely transformative.
Motivated to keep on dancing, I would like to share my story and the amazing benefits of dance with others. My goal is to inspire others to experience the healing and happiness that comes with this timeless activity.
Benefit #1 - Health
When we think about taking on a form of exercise we immediately think of the external benefits, such as toning muscles or reducing a stomach bulge. But the internal benefits in my opinion are even more important—after all what is the point of looking great externally if you’re falling apart internally? This challenge made me realize how lucky I am to be addicted to something that brought absolute joy to my life and that would not harm my body—it’s the perfect drug!!! In fact dance is so great that this is actually the first winter of my life that I actually got through without the flu or even the common cold. And the only thing I can possibly attribute this to is keeping active through this 100 day dance challenge. Even on days where I felt that something might have been coming on, the minute I hit the dance floor it was all gone. No Airborne, No Vitamin C, just my daily dose of dance. And, incredibly I was fine. So forget the flu shots people, I’ve got a much better remedy for you--it’s called a “dance shot”
Dancing is as great of a workout for the mind as it is for the body. Halfway through my challenge I felt my mind getting sharper. Problem solving skills at work were improving tremendously, my memory was improving, and my attention span was increasing. On conference calls and in meetings I found myself mirroring a lot of the things that were being said. And we all know the importance of an increased attention span, especially in this Twitter/Facebook world we currently live in.
Benefit # 2 - Inexpensive
Dancing, like any extracurricular activity one becomes involved with in NYC, can become expensive. Because of this I knew that if I was going to take on this challenge for 3 ½ months, I would have to make sure that it wouldn’t burn a hole in my pocket. So I searched discount deal websites (Groupon, Living Social, Gilt City, etc) and found some really great bargains. There were dance schools offering deals as low as $19 for an unlimited month of dance classes, which made it incredibly economical. Some of the passes even included free admission to dance socials/clubs/lounges as well. And for those nights when I was too tired to venture back out after a long day’s work, I’d just play a Zumba fitness video game or practice dance routines that I had learned throughout the challenge. There I’d be, dancing, at no cost, in the comfort of my own home and feeling reenergized to enjoy the rest of my evening.
Benefit # 3
Great Networking Tool
The BEST part of this challenge (hands down) has been the friendships I've made along the way. I've met some truly amazing people, from all walks of life. For this reason alone I'd do this challenge over and over again without a second thought.
Greatest lesson learned: Don't ever put aside doing what you love! We tend to always give excuses as to why we can't do something we enjoy (we’re too tired, too busy, not feeling well, etc.) 1/2 hr of a 24hr day is nothing. Push yourself to run, read, write, bike ride, dance, play an instrument, whatever makes your heart a little fuller. You'll see that that extra 1/2hr-1hr of power will change your life significantly!!!
My dance challenge has sadly come to an end. But it has inspired me to keep on moving and challenging myself to new things - hopefully inspiring others to do the same. Follow me on my next challenge, where I will be taking on running for 100 days straight. I’ve started a Facebook page titled 100 Day _____ Challenge, where I will be posting my daily runs around the city. Come join me!
(You can find my daily posts on my 100 Day ___Challenge facebook page
Or fill in that blank and create your own challenge (and please send me your daily posts as well.)
Finally, there is no way I can conclude this piece without giving special thanks to the companies that helped me achieve my dancing goal. I couldn't have done it without you!! (& of course to all the instructors, you know who you are)
Arthur Murray Dance Studios
Bovard New York
Cache Dance Studio
Champion Dance Studios
Dance New Amsterdam
Diva Dance Company
Dance With Me Soho
Pearl Dance Studios
Piel Canela Dance School
R.i.s.e Dance School
Santo Rico Dance School
Stepping Out Studios
Taj Lounge & Restaurant
The Ball NY
You Should be Dancing! Dance Center