You love Argentine tango, and taking classes and workshop regularly under great teachers. Still you feel you are missing something on the dance floor. If you feel like that, it may be the time to hire a personal tango fitness coach! No, I did not write that wrong. What you need is a personal fitness coach, not a dance coach. You already have enough tango instructors, now you need someone else. If you are curious, read on.
On the surface, Argentine tango movements are not too different from those of daily life. Instructors often tell us to walk like we walk on the street. But whatever we do, our dance does not look like the tango. Actually, the more we try to imitate the instructors, the more our movements become awkward.
Although most leaders try to lead their followers as gently as they can, she never moves as she “is supposed to”; so leaders end up pushing or pulling with their hands and arms to let her know what the intended movement is. Followers however, are complaining that leaders have no idea how to lead, and push them around all the time.
What we are missing is a basic physical capacity for Argentine tango dancing. Any dance, in fact, any act requires using specific muscle group, and many casual Argentine tango dancers do not have sufficient muscle strength, flexibility or coordination to dance Tango.
Take a back ocho. This is one of the most basic movements in tango, but few people can do it correctly! Why is that? It is because most people are lacking strength in their abdominal muscle groups, leg muscles (toes to hips), flexibility of lower back and legs, coordination of each muscle group, and the sense of the balance.
If you have done any type of sports seriously, you know how important all these are. In tennis or baseball, when you hit a ball, how powerfully you are able to hit the ball depends on how well your abdominal and leg muscle groups are developed, and how well you can coordinate them, rather than how strong your upper body muscles are (though a strong upper body helps).
Unfortunately, many people who love tango are often not active in sports, and they don’t understand the benefit of muscle development. Even people who exercise regularly often miss the important target areas for dance, and, aside from the general health benefit, their efforts are not reflected in their dance skill.
For example, take Yoga. Yoga will develop flexibility, strength, and sense of balance, and, in general, is very beneficial for dancing. However, since most movements in Yoga are done in slowly, without some other supplemental exercises, Yoga practice does not directly translate into the dance skill.
Can We Develop These Physical Capacities by Just Practicing Tango?
Yes you can. This has been done by many tango dancers. Under the supervision of a good tango instructor, if you practice an hour a day, you will surely develop the capacity. You could also practice back ochos 10 – 15 minutes at a time, but without the strength and flexibility required, you may perform them incorrectly, and you could develop bad habits. Another problem is that some tango instructors do not know how to help their students develop certain muscle groups. Because the movements are so natural to them they don’t know how to teach this part. If I ask you to teach me how to walk, could you? It is so natural to us, we don’t know how to describe “how”.
Here, is where the personal fitness coach comes in.
Although most personal fitness coaches do not have a background in Argentine tango, they are trained to know how to develop certain movements, and are quickly able to identify which exercises are suitable to develop muscle groups you need to dance tango. Further, unlike a personal trainer, they do not tell you what to do, but they let you to learn how to find what you need to do (though more and more trainers are move into the realm of fitness coaches). This is the major difference between a trainer and a coach. Sure, it is probably quicker to hire a personal trainer and ask them to teach you which workouts to use to develop the muscle groups, but once the trainer is gone, you don’t know what to do. The fitness coach helps you identify what your needs are, and develop your own workout. Also, because of their knowledge, by assisting you the fitness coach could prevent potential physical harm.
If you are interesting to work with a fitness coach, here are some guidelines.
* Be ready to do a lot of pre-work. Unlike personal trainers, personal fitness coach won’t tell you what to do immediately. They prefer you to learn how to develop your own program. For many people, this is a tedious step, and they may prefer a personal trainer. if you are one of them, that is fine. You should find a personal trainer. Although the benefit is not as great as working with a personal fitness coach, you will gain significantly through working with a personal trainer, and your dance will improve visibly.
* Find a local fitness coach who has experience in fitness training (e.g., ex-personal trainer, dancer) and actually can meet with you and work with you. Many coaches do their work though the telephone and/or on the Internet, even fitness coaches. You can use a coaching directory, such as Coach U, or Coaching Federation, to find one, but probably it is easier to Google local fitness coaches. It is great if they have a dance background, too, but it is not necessary.
* If the person you will work with doesn’t have knowledge of Argentine tango, let them borrow one of your tango instructional DVDs so that he or she knows what you are looking for. Prepare in detail what you are looking for. Most dancers need abdominal and leg muscle development, flexibility in the same areas, and well developed balance. Put these in high on your list.
* Don’t expect immediate results. The fitness coach will help you to learn how to understand your body, how to identify what is needed, how to approach the challenge, and how to proceed to achieve the goal. This takes time, just like learning tango itself. You may not even start the actual workout until the third or fourth session with them. In long run, however, you will be able to create your own program for any challenge, and you can even help others to do the same.