Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How To Make Your Warm-Up Smoking!

Excited about your material, that you are teaching because you love it, you'll probably want to go straight to teaching, but there are a few things to watch out for. Lindy Hop is a pretty intense dance and demands a lot from the body. Ignoring that fact will easily end up in injuries like hurt knees, one side-trained bodies etc. There are many angles to attack this problem. One part of the equation to keep your body healthy is warming up your muscles before you use them. Warming up can be completely separate from class like ballistic stretching or slow lindy hopping without instructions, or can be used already for your class. This way, the warm up will not be purely used for injury-prevention but serves as powerful tool to implement prepare your students physically and mentally for what's coming.

Mindset

One of the most overseen factors is that people coming to your classes, no matter if private, weekly, workshop or camp, is that they come with a certain mindset. If this mindset is not yet ready for your instructions, because it's occupied with the thoughts about the dick boss, the shopping list for tomorrow etc, lots of it will get lost. So when you start your warm-up respectively your class, welcome your students e.g. on a weekly class with something like "Hello everybody! I hope you had a nice day, let's do some lindy hopping!". This way, you'll get them where they were, and moved them to where you want them - to dancing.

Learning Environment

The sooner a learning environment is implemented in class the better, thus what better place is there than to utilize the warm-up to create the desired learning environment? Spike your warm up with as much of what you want the class to be like. Assuming the goals from the the above linked article: have fun, do simple stuff and get the focus set. If your class is going to be very mind focused (which I don't advertise), the energy in the warm up should match and hence be low. If you are teaching an explosive class the energy should be high, e.g. by doing solo Charleston warm up.

I like it when I have an actual group and not just a bunch of randomly put together people in my workshops. This will help the all-over comfort level, hence the learning amount and also facilitates the exchange between students. To create a group feeling I use warming up in a circle as one part. Since it's a group that now creates the energy, the energy of the warm-up will grow. Everybody being able to see everybody also helps the feeling of being together.
Another advantage of warming up in a circle is when you teach beginners. The vast majority of western civilized people feel uncomfortable with their bodies. Having to watch their own body and their, probably to them still awkward, movements in the mirror is counterproductive to feeling comfortable.

Material

Last but not least, the warm up can easily be used to train either already specific material of your class or generally solo body movement. This is something you've probably already seen. I like doing solo body movements I find useful and most commonly used in lindy hop as well as jazz movements, that are part of the history of swing dancing. Having already done some of the movements that I might need later, will then have been danced already and since solo body movement, and even if it was just a way to put rhythm into movement, is a big part for dancing together, in my understanding of the dance, it will be good in any case.