If you’re like me, your physical health has taken a bit of a dive since COVID-19 hit. Gyms closing, stress eating, and the message of “stay at home” have been factors in what has caused me and many others to feel less healthy during the pandemic. Getting back to the gym, I found myself winded a little quicker than usual on the treadmill. This got me thinking; how did people who rely on their fitness get through the tougher phases of the pandemic? How do athletes, personal trainers, and competitive dancers keep in shape?
I decided to reach out to my friend Kiara Palma. Kiara has been dancing for over ten years. She’s a competitive dancer with the A3 District’s J-Ryderz, and a Hip-Hop instructor at iDance Vancouver. Staying in physical shape is vital to her dancing, so I knew she’d be a good person to talk to.
“Before COVID, I would train two or three times a week. I would go to studios all the time, especially during the weekend. But during the lockdown, this wasn’t possible.” Kiara told me she would follow workout routines on YouTube or freestyle dance at home. It doesn’t take an expert dancer to tell me that training in a studio and training at your house would feel a little bit different. “I would find a place outside without too many people and train there. I’d try not to stay home as much.” Kiara said that lockdown helped her focus more on her physical fitness. “I was really worried about gaining weight. I didn’t want to get out of shape. I stopped drinking soda, set new goals for myself, and looked for online training programs.”
Like many forms of art, dance isn’t meant to be done alone. “Usually you’re with another person. At least one, but sometimes up to twenty.” Kiara said it’s a lot harder to push herself dancing alone than it is dancing within the company of other people. Thankfully the dance community has been able to adapt. Restrictions have been eased. Kiara is able to dance with other people as long as they are distanced, or with masks on. “There’s only around ten to twenty people in a class” she told me “The extra room means it’s easier to move around. If you’re in a small studio with a lot of people, it’s hard to give your all.”
For most people dance isn’t a competitive sport, it’s just a fun alternative to pumping iron at the gym. “Most of the people I have in my class are doing it for recreation, or as a way to stay fit.” Kiara told me “So for them, they just do at home workouts and they’re fine.” To an outside observer, dance may look graceful and effortless, but it requires a lot of work and practice.
Done properly dance can be a fun and challenging way to stay fit, but if a dancer doesn’t take the proper precautions, they can sustain some pretty serious injuries. Hips, knees, and ankles are especially vulnerable. Dancers also are at a higher risk for developing arthritis in these areas. Its important dancers take time to rest and not overwork themselves. Rest is important; without it you’re just going to wear yourself out.
The dance community is resilient and has found ways to adapt. “If people can’t get into their usual studio, they’ll try a new one, or they will work out at home.” People want to keep dancing, even if it means practicing in their room or in a park.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain”