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What are you waiting for?

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Somewhere along the way, it was decided that the New Year is a good time to start a fitness plan. That’s great, but to cringe and quote an old cliché, “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”

Seriously! Do you want to start a new exercise program? Then start! Not “I should start” but “I will start”. We have it in our heads that if we wait until the first of something it will somehow be easier for us to accomplish the task. “I can start that on Monday” or “let’s wait until the first of the month”. And the big one now is “what is your New Year’s resolution going to be?” But what’s wrong with Tuesday…or Thursday…or December? If today is Thursday, don’t wait until next Monday because you think it’s better to start at the beginning of the week. Resolve today and start today. To quote NIKE, “Just Do It!”

I’m not always the best at taking my own advice. I try to stay up on significant trends in fitness. What’s new, what will provide the best overall workout, what will keep people engaged long enough to see results, and so on. I’m fairly knowledgeable about a variety of exercise programs, but other than a couple of private Pilates sessions and some Pilates mat classes, I can’t say that I know as much as I’d like about the Pilates method. I have been saying for months that I will start working out in the Pilates Center. I have not yet started.

Last week I was speaking to Vlada about plans to get the word out about our Pilates Center and the benefits of Pilates. I explained to Vlada that I had asked Jodi, one of my staff, to begin taking Pilates weekly to gain experience and knowledge to better communicate with potential clients. Vlada looked at me and said, “what about you?” Of course my answer to her was, “That would be great; maybe in January.” Her reply, “How about Thursdays at noon? You and Jodi are booked beginning December 6”. Vlada would not accept anything short of “Just do it! And do it now”. So I am.

I’m excited. Jodi and I will begin this challenge together. We are not waiting until January. We have fought and won the battle of good intentions.

Check back to the blog each week as Jodi will be blogging the pains, the gains, the challenges and benefits of Pilates.

What are you waiting for?

Monkey See, Monkey Do…

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Yep, it didn’t take me too many years into my parenting to realize I had three sets of eyes constantly watching me. Children imitate what they see other people doing, especially their parents.  Fact: the home is the child’s first classroom. “Do as I say, not as I do” parenting doesn’t work; no matter how often we bark those orders! My children are now adults, but even today I realize that something I once said, or some bad habit is coming back to remind me that “monkey see, monkey do” is the real deal.

So let’s take this seriously. Everything we do and say…and everything we don’t is impacting the next generation. As a parent you have far more influence on your child than you probably realize. You are being watched.

For the purposes of this blog, let’s narrow the “everything” down. The choices you make every day to live a healthy life…or not…have a huge impact on your child’s health and wellbeing now and for the remainder of their life. Knowing that, let’s talk about you, the parent.

Do you believe that your first and primary responsibility is to take care of your child? Most people answer “yes!” And yes, we should be in care and protection mode when it comes to our children. But consider this; just as the airlines direct you to put on your own oxygen mask first, breathe normally, and then assist your child, you must first take care of your own health and fitness. When you are strong, when you are healthy, when you are fit, you are more likely to be able care for and model healthy behavior to the children around you.

You can talk about health, nutrition, fitness, and body image all day long, but what you do, not what you say, is what will have the greatest impact. And today we need impact. Texas has the 12th highest adult obesity rate; the 7th highest childhood obesity rate. Childhood obesity rates have tripled in the last 30 years. One in three children in Texas is overweight or obese. Studies indicate that the number one contributing factor to childhood obesity is an obese parent. This factor increases the child’s likelihood of becoming obese by 80 percent. Today’s obese children are tomorrow’s obese adults. And so the cycle continues…

Fortunately, obesity is a preventable condition. Texas and other states are fighting this battle, but the single most important weapon is what a parent can do to put a stop to these alarming statistics.  The weapon? Parents who are determined to become powerful role models. We know what is good for us and what is not good for us. When fast food restaurants start having healthy menus that should be the final wake-up call. It’s time to make changes in our own lives; practice what we know.

“Parents often don’t realize how much opportunity they have to shape what kids are doing,” says Leann Birch, director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Pennsylvania State University in Philadelphia and co-author of the study. “In some ways we are much better off to encourage parents to be good models, rather than to tell kids to eat their vegetables. If parents would just shut up and do it themselves, they would be much more successful,” in keeping kids healthy.”

If you want an active child, be active yourself. If you want your children to eat healthy foods, choose healthy yourself. You can’t just “talk” physical activity and nutrition; you need to make it a priority in your own life. You only get one body per lifetime so give it the respect it deserves. So, be careful, your children are watching you live your life.

Begin by establishing some new habits for yourself. Your children may complain, but eventually…monkey see, monkey do.

  • Learn about healthy food choices
  • Don’t skip breakfast
  • Exercise portion control and don’t feel compelled to clean your plate
  • Drink water with meals
  • Do not drink soft drinks or sweet drinks
  • Choose lowfat options
  • Bake, roast, or grill food
  • Choose fresh vegies instead of canned
  • Limit junk food in the house
  • Have lots of choices like carrot sticks, celery, and other raw vegetables
  • Limit DRIVE-BY Meals and don’t eat in the car!
  • Turn the TV off while eating
  • Take your lunch to work and pack a lunch for your child
  • Food is not a reward and food is not a threat for punishment
  • Reduce talk about diets
  • Choose something other than a restaurant as a way to spend family time together
  • Choose physical activity that’s easy to fit into your own life
  • Talk about how much you enjoy your workout and how good your feel. If you don’t enjoy it, find something new you will enjoy. What you love you will keep doing!
  • Turn household shores into fun physical activity
  • Park farther away from a store entrance on purpose
  • Friendly family competition with pedometers
  • Play outside together. Shoot hoops, Frisbee, Frisbee golf, tag, take walks, ride bikes
  • Explore creative and fun options for you and your children to get regular physical activity
  • Recruit other parents to join you as you use the monkey see, monkey do philosophy to fight the obesity trends in the US.
  • Don’t lose heart!

At Ballet Austin one of our core values is to encourage lifelong health and wellbeing. We are committed to making physical activity fun, offering activities children enjoy, using dance, play, and music. It is our hope that both children and adults will be motivated to move and begin to understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

Good luck monkeys!

Dancing on the big stage!

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Everyone has a story. I don’t ever want to assume that the people around me have nothing of interest to share. So I stop, ask questions, listen. I love it! People are fascinating! I am surrounded by people at Ballet Austin who could regale me for hours with their stories. Inside every one of our dancers, staff, and incredible instructors is a wealth of life experience. Today I share just one.

Vincent Sandoval teaches theatre dance, tap, and Musical Theatre workshops at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School. We sat down the other day to talk about his upcoming holiday workshop Santa’s Gonna Rock and RollNot having been a performer myself, I am intrigued by the stories of those who are.

Vincent began to paint a picture of life in New York; life on Broadway and beyond. It was a journey. Vincent shared; I listened.


When I first arrived in New York I was performing in midtown at a cabaret. It was only 2 doors down from Phantom of the Opera. I was close, just not close enough. Eventually I found my way to Radio City Music Hall,
the world’s largest indoor theater, home of the Rockettes and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. I performed with the Rocketts for 6 years and was then asked to be Assistant Director and Choreographer to put up the LA company. That was the year we were asked to be in the Jay Leno Show. Jay Leno! Fun memories!

My biggest highlight while performing with the Rocketts was when I was asked to be a featured dancer in the show. For a time I was the only guy on that big stage with those 38 girls and their legs. Just me; pretty awesome. The Rockettes stood posed behind me in the background; I danced. To dance on that huge stage by myself was a thrill.

Beyond the Rocketts I had the opportunity to do many wonderful shows. My favorite was CRAZY FOR YOU because I got to go on the European tour to Switzerland, Germany, and France. The sights, the people, the food.  I loved the food! Of course, there were a few times when we just craved some good ‘ole home cooking. I remember the time we toured to Japan. I grew tired of rice and soup. Being from Texas, I was missing some red meat and so I went looking for a cow. Thank goodness for Outback Restaurants in Japan! 

The other reason I love CRAZY FOR YOU is that it was a tap show, and tap is my favorite!

I remember how much I loved tap right from the start. As a kid I had to tag along to the dance studio with my sister.  It was my only way to eventually get home if I wanted a ride. My sister was the dance student. I was not. Tap was my sister’s last class of the day. I did my homework (or was supposed to) while waiting in the lobby. But the rhythm of the feet caught my attention so I would start tapping in the lobby.  One day the tap teacher told my mom, “You might want to enroll Vincent into a tap class. He’s actually better than most of the other kids.” To this day my sister still gives me notes when I dance.

So many wonderful experiences and incredible memories. I still perform at times, but through teaching dance I am able to tell my stories, share the experiences and memories, and keep the shows and performers of Broadway alive!

Join Vincent beginning November 29 for the Holiday Musical Theatre Workshop. Learn some of the Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular. Can’t make that workshop? Dance the 80′s in January! Or drop in to a tap or Theatre Dance class. Learn to dance while listening to the stories of Broadway and beyond.

Is Your Kid on the Couch?

Monday, November 12th, 2012

When kids are active, they feel better, are more productive in school, make better choces, get a better night’s sleep, and like any adult, are more pleasant to be around! Exercise is such a mood booster!

But today there are more challenges than ever when it comes to kids getting enough physical activity. Technology, gadgets that mean we rarely have to get out of a chair, kids having cell phones at a younger age, busyness, overcommitment and stress at school and other other activities, all lead to children today being on track to be the unhealthiest generation of adults ever. In fact, some studies say that by 2048 100% of Americans will be considered obese. That’s staggering! And that’s our kids.

Why am I writing this blog? Because we all know this, and yet the problem grows. So today I join the conversation to make sure that if there is someone out there who has not heard that our kids are stuck on the couch more than any other generation, I will reach that person. And each of us can begin to make small changes in our own lives so that we are modeling healthy behavior to the next generation.

Over the next couple of months I will be blogging often about getting our kids active. I am committed. I will share articles and ideas as I come across them. Today I begin by sharing tips to get your couch kid to exercise.

Watch for new programming for kids coming to Ballet Austin. We are committed to getting kids active!

A Letter from a Workout Dropout

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

I received this letter last week from a Butler Community School client. She asked to remain anonymous but agreed her letter could be shared. Check out what she has to say:

Dear Vicki,

I am a workout dropout. I have started a new exercise regimen at least 50 times in my life. I am only 31. You do the math. My question for you is this, “where does motivation come from and how do you keep it?”

I stood outside Ballet Austin a few months ago and watched an exercise class going on through the large window to the downtown world on 3rd St.  The people inside looked like ordinary people; both men and women of various ages and sizes. I was intrigued. I decided to be brave and venture inside to check it out. I learned it was a Ballet Fit class. I heard the music of the Beetles and Adele playing, and the encouraging words of the instructor. People who looked like me working out at a ballet barre, great music, smiles, even laughter. I could do that! I had been looking (once again) for a workout that I would stick with. I know exercise is beneficial and that I should do it, but with all the activities that fill my daily life – work, family, and hanging out with friends – there is little time left for exercise. (At least that is my excuse) Honestly, I guess I choose to go home and chill rather than work out. I don’t always make it a priority.

But I made the commitment to take a Ballet Fit class and loved it. I couldn’t walk the next day; could hardly get out of bed to be honest. The funny thing is that the body ache is actually what made me want to go back. I bought the $99 Introductory 1 month of unlimited classes. Because I paid for it I went as often as I could during that month; you know, get the most for my money. Then the month ended. In my head I knew that I just had to purchase more classes to continue, but I didn’t.  I loved the class and how my body felt. I thought about continuing, but I did not.  I was annoyed with myself, because once again I became a workout dropout. What can I do to get my motivation back and keep it?

Thanks,

A Frustrated Workout Dropout

 

Dear Workout Dropout

You are not alone in your frustration. And while most people feel great after working out, and know the facts about why they should exercise, it is often not enough to motivate most individuals to keep it up. In fact, research shows that 50% of people who start an exercise program will drop out within the first 6 months.

Motivation is a funny thing. I am not sure where it comes from. Does motivation come from within a person or from external influences? Probably a combination of both. I actually don’t think your problem lies in the area of motivation. The very fact that you have re-started your exercise regimen over 50 times means you have a pretty good dose of motivation. Good for you! You could have given up, but you started again. Here’s what I think. Stop thinking of it as 50 times you have dropped out or quit. Turn that around. Shift your thinking from couch potato dropout mentality to fitness savvy mentality. Think about all the new ways and places you have discovered to work out and the people you have met along the way. By nature, humans need change, variety, and a sense of enjoyment or fun to stay motivated. The reality is that very few people find one way to work out and stick with it the rest of their life. It’s sort of like food. When I discover a new food that I love, I am hooked. I will eat that food every day if it’s available. But eventually I am stuck in a food rut. The orignal love has worn off. I need a change. Nothing wrong with that. I am on to the next favorite food.

Change your perspective and think about all the possibilities there are for you to pursue when it comes to working out. Maybe you haven’t even scratched the surface.

So ask yourself, “what’s next?” Listen to your inner voice when choosing the workout that suits you. If a hip hop class satisfies a passion for dance and you get a workout, then dance! If hiking fulfills your love for the outdoors, then hike! If it’s the music and encouragement of a Ballet Fit class that keeps you going, then head to the barre.

What will your next workout be?

Let me know

Vicki

Looking for some “me” time while bonding with your baby?

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

You just had a baby. Congratulations! Let me get right to the point and then turn this blog over to Brittany Harpole, one of Ballet Austin’s Certified Pilates and Fitness instructors who just recently had a baby.

My point: It’s hard to find the time or motivation to work out at any time; an even greater challenge when you have a new baby.

Brittany’s baby Ava is just over 5 month old. Even though fitness is Brittany’s job, she is fully aware of the daily challenges new moms face when it comes to taking care of baby and taking care of themselves. Let’s hear from Brittany…

Besides getting a night of uninterrupted sleep, moms long to get back to their pre-baby shape. But how? When? Where?  Fatigue, time constraints, concerns about leaving the baby with a care provider, and the uncertainty of what workout is best, make post-natal exercise difficult for new moms.

Whatever the challenges, moms must realize how important it is to take care of themselves; to do something special for themselves now and then, and begin to work on their fitness as soon as possible after a pregnancy. Having trained in Pilates and fitness helped me know that as soon as the doctor cleared me, I needed to work my body. There so many benefits to postpartum exercise. To sum it up, when women are able to find the time to exercise after having a baby, they will lose the pregnancy weight and regain muscle strength, reduce back discomfort that comes after pregnancy, have opportunities to meet other new moms, and have a general sense of well-being that comes to anyone who gets sufficient exercise.

After I had my baby I started thinking about how great it would be to exercises with Ava. The more I thought about it the more I realized how it would encourage me and benefit Ava! What if there was a class for that? A class that would promote bonding between mom and baby; moms would get the exercise benefits and the babies would be stimulated by the movement, music, and watching other smiling moms and babies.

With that thought I created Mommy & Baby Fit!  Mommy & Baby Fit is not just about the workout. It’s about giving you both time together; valuable time with your child so they can begin learning the importance of movement at an early age and you don’t have to worry about finding a babysitter. But yes, you will work out!

I hope you’ll join me for Mommy & Baby Fit at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School. We will work together to get back into shape and have fun with our babies!

Buddy Up!

Friday, October 12th, 2012

As a couple of old sayings go, “time passes much more quickly when you’re having fun” and “there’s strength in numbers.”

Right off the bat some of you might argue that there is nothing fun about a workout. I counter that thought with the fact (yes, there is research to back it up) that friends who exercise together get better results together.

So if you are one of those who considers exercise the “necessary of two evils” (better than being dead), and the fun of Bollywood or Zumba® isn’t enough to get you off the couch, buddy up!

A study of 3,000 women revealed 61% find it near impossible to find enough motivation and energy to exercise alone. However the same proportion enjoy working out with a friend, and say they actually push themselves harder if they have company.

Having a friend who is interested in keeping fit and toned can help keep motivation high. Workouts becomes less about the sweat, or how many calories you burn, and more about catching up on the latest news, and sharing time together. Social support encourages physical activity, provides feedback, and makes the exercise time more fun. I think that’s why the fitness apps are so popular today. They challenge us, motivate us, encourage us, make our workouts more interesting, and give us the feedback we need to keep going. I just wish I had an app that kept me from reaching for the white chocolate chip cookie!

So buddy up! Grab your friend and get started this week. It’s $5 Friend Week at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School! Bring a friend to any BCS Drop-in class between October 15 and October 21 and both you and your friend can take that class for only $5!

What are you waiting for? Over 60 classes are offered 7 days a week! Buddy up and experience the positive side of peer pressure!

See you in a class with your friend this week!

Calling All Zombies!

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

One hour of total Thriller! Join the Zombies of Austin on the scariest night of the year and dance it out in this ever popular graveyard dance.

Ahhh…the 80′s…

I remember the birth of MTV in 1981. Music videos have come a long way, but over three decades later Michael Jackson’s Thriller just doesn’t go away.  In fact, it remains the bestselling album of all time, with 72 million in worldwide sales. Wow! And then there’s Thrill The World, an annual worldwide attempt to break the Largest Simultaneous Dance with Michael Jackson’s Thriller. And I just found out that the Library of Congress added Thriller to its National Film Registry in 2009, the first music video in their registry. And did you know that the video won for Best Performance Video, Best Choreography, and Viewers Choice at the first MTV Video Music Awards in 1984.

How’s that for a little trivia? Needless to say, Thriller remains a popular favorite. What could be better than combining Michael Jackson, dance, and zombies for Halloween

Halloween just wouldn’t be Halloween without this ghoulish anthem.

If you’re a Michael Jackson fan, love Thriller, love to dance, or want to be a part of this “mob” of zombies, STOP! Take note! Save the dates!

Videodance™ instructor Kody Jauron is always game for some crazy fun, and that’s just what you can expect from October 16-31. Are you in?
  • Thriller choreography will be taught prior to Halloween at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School during Videodance™ classes October 16 – 30. Videodance™ is held every Tuesday & Thursday night from 7:30-8:30pm.
  • If you attend any or all of the Videodance™ classes October 16 – 30 you will be invited to participate in a surprise (and secret) Ballet Austin BCS flash mob on Saturday night, October 27. Email me if you’re interested! vicki.parsons@balletaustin.org
  • Halloween Thriller Dance Party! Just want to dance it with a bunch of zombies? Head over to Ballet Austin for a special Thriller hour of dance. Halloween night, October 31 from 8:30pm to 9:30pm. Just maybe you can take it to the streets at the end of the hour! Wear your Halloween costume to the class on the 31st and get $12 off the regular $17 single class rate. Just $5 for an hour of Zombie fun!
You may be a fan of The Walking Dead…but are you a fan of The Dancing Dead? The zombies are waiting…

Ballet Austin is on the corner of 3rd and San Antonio. Will we see you there?

Dance Today, Smile Today

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Recently I have been asking people a question as they leave our BCS dance classes, “Why do you dance?”

I get the many expected responses, “Dancing is an excellent form of exercise. It burns calories and tones my muscles.” “I love the music and the movement.” “I have danced for years.” “I have always wanted to learn.” But today I had someone pause after I asked the question. She looked up, looked around, and then turned a happy face back to me and said, “I dance today, I smile today.”

I am not sure if it was her words or the infectious grin that gave me a warm feeling inside. I too smiled. It made me happy just to hear her response…“I dance today, I smile today.” I wondered; if she didn’t dance today would she not be smiling? Would she be smiling regardless of the activity? Somehow I didn’t think so.

I started to wonder why dance can create such an overall sense of happiness. I know that exercise involves movement and that all exercise releases endorphins. But I also know that when I finish a 5 mile run, while I might feel good about my accomplishment and experience a relief from the stressors in my life, the run itself doesn’t cause me to light up my world with a smile. No, it’s more than just the physical activity. Is it the music? Well, I know that as soon as I hear music playing it’s not long before my foot starts tapping. Turn music on in a room full of children and they naturally start to move. Yes, music is also known to stimulate pleasure. But music can ignite other emotions as well. I wonder if the blending of the two, movement and music together could be the key. There is extensive research that gives evidence that both music and dance make us happy. Our brains are stimulated and we are overcome with a sense of well-being.

Today, however, I prefer to set aside the scientific data and lean on how I feel. When I watch movies such as Happy Feet and Madagascar, I feel good. I catch myself smiling. When I watch children dancing to music it makes me happy. Today I caught myself smiling as I looked into the faces of the people leaving a dance class, most with a big grin; some even laughing out loud. Hmm…if being an onlooker can bring me such happiness, imagine the heart of the dancer!

You too could dance today and smile today.

Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School offers dance & fitness classes for adults 7 days a week. Come smile with us! All ability levels welcome.

Close Your Eyes and Stand on One Foot

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Can you stand on one foot for 15 seconds with your eyes closed?

Before you even think about answering, try it. 

How did you do? Were you able to last 15 seconds without opening your eyes or holding on to anything? Were you surprised that it was more of a challenge than you thought? Here’s the facts: After age 25, our sense of balance slowly begins to decline. Standing on one foot may seem fairly simple. At age 45 the ankles start to shake and you may find this a bit more of a challenge. When we reach our 60s, balance declines rapidly. Standing on one foot for 15 seconds with eyes closed without holding on is tough.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of adults 65 and older fall each year in the United States and 20 to 30 percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries.

September 22 kicked off Fall Prevention Awareness Week. Why set aside a week to bring awareness to falling down? Because preventing a fall is much more effective than treating a fall; a public health problem that is largely preventable. A fall can change an individual’s life instantly and although associated with getting older, a fall is not a normal part of aging.

Our bodies have an amazing and complex balance system that requires attention throughout life to keep it healthy and maintained. Most of us don’t think about exercising our balance when we think about healthy aging. In fact, balance is the most overlooked element of fitness; overlooked until we have a problems.

So what’s the easiest way to reclaim balance and prevent falls? For the most part, it’s child’s play. Think back to when you were a child. Do you remember challenging friends to see who could hop the longest on one foot?  Or who could walk on the edge of the sidewalk the longest without falling off? Hopscotch, jumping rope, tossing balls…we didn’t call it exercise or balance training as children, but that is exactly what we were doing. Those activities helped us develop our balance and stability as children, and similar activities can help keep the brain and muscles working together as we age.

A favorite part of my week is teaching the Better Balance & Movement Workshops here at Ballet Austin. The participants range in age from about 40 to 80. I love it! Together we challenge our brains and our muscles to do what we want them to do. And then we laugh when they don’t always cooperate. I especially love to see people coming back each week sharing how they practiced at home, and the improvement they notice in their balance.

Thanks to partial underwriting from Scott & White Healthcare, Ballet Austin is on a mission to bring better balance to adults as part of its core value to encourage lifelong health and well-being. We desire to provide programming that will motivate and encourage people of all ages to be active! I once read this quote, “Movement requires balance. Sitting does not.

On September 13, 2012 the US Senate passed a resolution declaring September 22, 2012 as National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, a day set aside to promote and increase public awareness about how to prevent and reduce falls among older adults.

Keep moving!

There are many ways for people of all ages to stay active at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School. Interested in the Better Balance & Movement Workshop? A new session begins October 31.

 
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