T H I S . I S . M E. Look out world ‘cos here I come!*
Thought I’d introduce myself to some new followers, the face behind The Love of Dance.
I’m Alison, First Wedding Dance Choreographer – I founded The Love of Dance 10 years ago to help wedding planning couples who didn’t know where to begin in planning something a little special for their first dance. Most of my clients over the years have been ‘non’ dancers (I hate that phrase because everyone is a dancer in their own right!) and they needed anything from learning some basic social ballroom steps (footwork), to a first dance extravaganza choreographed for them!
I’m also a Pilates Instructor and incorporate postural strength into my service in helping couples stand tall, proud and confident on their day, or generally help them strengthen and tone. (Downward Facing Dog optional!).
I’m based in Bedfordshire but thanks to the wonder of tech I now teach couples/clients all over the UK… maybe I’ll be able to say ‘the world’ soon!
“Look out (world) ’cause here I come, And I’m marching on to the beat I drum, I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, T H I S . I S . M E”
*Oh, and yes – I love The Greatest Showman. Slightly edited the words, but If ever there’s a power ballad for 21stC, that’s the song!
Wedding Fitness Motivation! A good, holistic fitness plan will support physical and mental health in advance of, and on your wedding day. Mix up the fitness/ movement styles you practice on a weekly basis to prepare you for various elements of the day, from calming wedding day nerves in the morning, through to dancing ’til the lights come up .* I wrote a blog for Carmela Weddings recently with my Pilates Instructor hat on. Follow the link in CW’s bio to her website, and then to the blog page. https://www.carmelaweddings.co.uk/cw-loves-the-love-of-dance/
A good, holistic fitness routine will boost your physical and mental health and wellbeing, preparing mind and body for your wedding day: 1. Reduce stress: Deep breathing exercises and gentle stretching helps to reduce stress, and manage stress when the nerves start kicking in: Try learning a simple, short Yoga routine in advance of your wedding day to practise on your own, on the morning of your Wedding.
2. Strengthen Posture: Pilates is brilliant for training the muscles in the back and improving postural stamina, so you can stand tall and confident as you walk down the aisle.
3. Tone Up: design your fitness plan to work on the areas you know your wedding outfit will flaunt.
4. Skin Boost: a good sweaty workout increases blood circulation, removing toxins and giving a wonderful, healthy glow.
5. Feel healthy, strong and confident: that feel good vibe will radiate from the inside, to the out.
6. Boost the immune system: keep lurgy at bay in advance of your wedding day.
7. Release the happy endorphins: Establish a plan you enjoy or can build in to a daily habit to help you stick to it:
Walking or cycling to work.
Build in breathing exercises before an important event or meeting.
A regular fun activity might be more enjoyable. Kayaking? Cycling? Trampolining?!
8. Bond and support: Find something you can do as a couple to motivate and encourage each other!
A good, enjoyable fitness plan may just stick for life, not just for your wedding day!
*Always seek a qualified fitness instructor or professional who can recommend the fitness plan for you. CIMSPA is a good place to start for registered professionals. Find classes and instructors at the local gym – some gyms are also offering online classes to their members. Chat to your doctor if you have any health concerns or know of any reason you should take advice about the type of fitness activity you can participate in.
Discover how Pilates helps to strengthen and tone whilst improving posture and reducing stress and illness by incorporating it in to daily life.
This 6 week online mat pilates course from Dancing Mama Fitness will take the beginners through the simple steps to understanding the ABC of pilates and how to put into daily practise in order to:
improve and strengthen posture/alignment, correct postural issues;
improve physical health – helping to stave off illnesses;
make us happier!
beat stress – Pilates focusses on coordinating movement and breath, known through many practices to calm the mind;
help us live longer lives!
The course will include a complimentary 1:1 session, which we’ll schedule on your registration, where we’ll delve deeper in to anything you’d like to work on. Option of additional 1:1 sessions also available. We’ll meet every Wednesday or Thursday on Zoom for 1 HR Pilates and optional 15 minutes mindfulness relaxation at the end.
Hope you can join me. Get in touch if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Love still blossoms… Online dating was the norm even before lock down. Now face timing is the only gauge of someones mannerisms and demeanour which can’t be read from a WhatsApp message, but does it give accurate enough representation of a person.
Lockdown Love & Dating
Where do singles find love at the moment?
Can a fleeting moment in a supermarket queue spark new conversation and lead to love in the aisles?
A chat with the regular delivery guy?
A nurse who helps someone back to health?
Where else do singles find love at the moment and how can we make a face time relationship meaningful and really get to know someone through a screen??
What sequence of impactful types of online meetings and conversations need to happen to embed into a singular heart, amongst a sea of other love-seeking hopefuls?
Or do we just press pause on love??
These are the questions I’m going to be taking to @Ticheabrade’s She Created Life’s brunch discusses dating and relationships. Sunday 27 April 11-1pm. The link to join is in her bio.
I can’t wait to see and hear the unique love stories that might emerge and dust themselves off out of a period of complete random circumstance affecting our planet in numerous, monumental and societal shaping ways!!
The Wedding Planning Show Goes On
While on the subject of relationship related norms that are still happening – wedding planning is still very much live. I was involved last week in an online wedding show. @BeckieMelvineventsAnti Panic Wedding Show showcased some fabulous Beds, Herts and Bucks Wedding Industry suppliers, bringing the profile of their services to the living room of wedding planning brides-to-be. You can still view the videos through the event Facebook page linked above. It’s a great time for couples to do their research, build a rapport with suppliers while they might have that extra time on their hands.
And what better way to pass the time than learning to dance together with first dance lessons brought to you in your living room! The Love of Dance’s FREE online taster lesson will give you a taster of what to expect going forward from our first dance lessons. To claim, tag 3 wedding planning friends or brides to be into the comments on the Instagram or Facebook post linked here, and I’ll be in touch!
Whatever circumstances, working lifestyle, or lifestyle adaptations are currently being made given the latest government advice about social distancing during this period of disruption, a large chunk of the population, will probably find themselves with more time at home, and possibly, depending on the age of the kids and work status, with more time with the kids. As parents we’re going to need to be mentally and physically strong for ourselves and our families amongst the catastrophe.
Here are 10 things you can do to help boost your immune system and preserve your mental health and wellbeing whatever social distancing measures you’ve decided or have to take, or if you have to self isolate, that you can do with – or without (possibly after bedtime) – the kids!:
1 Work Out.
Working out boosts the immune system and massively improves mental health.
For you: There is a mass of online fitness videos, or 1 to 1 personal workout instructors in a huge range of styles. Virtual learning platforms will become our best friend over the coming months – technology is amazing. Investing in an online personal trainer, who can monitor your workout, will ensure you’re working out safely and to your strengths.
Listen carefully to the safe workout guidelines the online practitioners should provide. Take care, don’t overdo it to avoid injury, and always ensure you have approval from a physician if you feel unwell, have underlying, continuous health conditions, are pregnant, or have given birth within the last 6 months, on the type of exercise that is suitable for you.
Watch this space for ideas for parent and kids work outs together from Dancing Mama Fitness…
At the time of writing (17.3.20) some of us can still get out – can still get to leisure centres. They’re still open – providing you’ve done your own risk assessment for your health – support them! The centres I teach in are heightening their cleaning routines and there is reduced attendance by members, so two metres apart from each other is achieved in most classes.
Nature, fresh air, greenery – exercise, walk, escape the confines of walls and bust some stress. Get some comfy walking boots or trainers and explore – walk far and wide with younger kids in a baby carrier (visit Wear My Babyfor a great collection), or take shorter walks to take time and educate the kids on nature or take a ball or frisbee.
3 Ramp Up the Self Love and Care
Take long baths, have a go at making scrubs and home made shampoos. There’s so many blogs online, and we can’t necessarily go wrong if the ingredients are entirely natural and applied externally only of course (ahem!). Perfect opportunity to be more careful about the environment with less packaging as a result.
Also time to cook from scratch in mass production, if there’s not usually time to do anything more than bung a ready made meal in the microwave. Cook with loads of immune system boosting fresh or frozen fruit and veg, and freeze stuff – loads of suggestions of recipes suitable for freezing online. Read my Dancing Mama blog on Parent Baby Nutrition, Baby Led Weaning Ideas and cooking on a budget here. Time to take control of what we’re consuming.
4 Meditate or Find Stillness and Breathe.
When our minds are a-jumble with so many different concerns, questions, possibly health issues too, it’s important to try to take some time out and try to switch the brain off. Guided meditation app subscriptions help spark motivation to practise regularly – I love Spotify or Insight Timer. My little one loves New Horizon Holistic Centre Meditations on either app – I’ve been encouraging her to practise deep breathing (she’s 3 in June). There’s a meditation for everything!
For you: Novels, fact, fiction, Motivational self help books, personal or business development…the list is endless. Feed the mind! Audio books are a good substitute, but we’re more likely to try to multi-task whilst listening, arguably not giving the books full attention!
For the kids: My school friend’s son has started a Facebook page as he believes every child should have a book to read or read to them at night. Check out Story Time By Max here!
6 Get arty or crafty
Do a quick online shop or support a local craft supplies retailer. Make a master piece. Adult colouring books are beautiful, and brilliant for the concentration. There may be a craft or skill you’ve been wanting to have a go at. My mum told me I have to mention knitting – perhaps I’ll get her a YouTube channel of her own! Opportunities for being creative with kids are endless – find some inspiration here.
7 Dance, play and laugh
Crank up the tunes, dance with your partner/spouse, dance with the kids, sing really loudly. That Saturday night out might be on hold for a short while. We love finding different dance styles on TV, and my little one gets so inspired, lost in a ballet or a fierce contemporary dance piece.
Social media and technology will either make or break our society. I love this diagram from @From The Other Chair on Instagram.
So hard to disassociate with all the chatter but with increased social distancing we’ll probably be looking at social media and technology far more frequently to communicate.
Conflicting evidence on facts could ultimately cause us more unnecessary stress as we consume so much conflicting info and so many different opinions.
Our brains and eyes need a break – studies show that staring at a screen longer will reduce our melatonin, disrupting sleep.
I’m also worried I’m staring at a screen too much and disengaging with my little one, so it will be nice for her to see me unattached from a phone for once!
9 Socialise (Virtually)
The above said – use technology to help you gather all your best mates, kids, family into a Google Hangouts or Whatsapp video call every now and then from phones or laptops. Have a virtual girls night in – try to still celebrate the birthdays, Mothers’ Day together. We can’t lose the ability to speak face to face and see expressions and laugh together. It’s the greatest medicine.
Get to bed earlier, wake up earlier! 7.5 – 9 hours sleep is the optimal length of time for the body to really benefit (and kids need more). Any shorter or longer is not healthy for the body. Some of the greatest leaders and thinkers are said to do their greatest work early in the morning whilst the rest of the world is still sleeping. Another great blog post from This Is Calmer about the benefits of sleep.
Time for reinvention?
Imagine if this time of unrest is actually a wake up call for us, to re-evaluate our lives and relationships, shake up our bad habits and practises that don’t serve us, and is a gift to practise some self love and care…
In a time of immense uncertainty in many aspects of our lives, my mantra lately: Where there is tension, there is reinvention.
Let’s talk those first wedding dance songs that aren’t too clichéd. Stuck for ideas? Here’s my list of first dance songs that are a little different. Cool, smooth, romantic songs which maybe haven’t been thought of by your friends, cousins – anyone else getting married around you.
Some inspiration has come through from my First Dance Clients. Some are my personal favourite songs of all time: personal to me because of my family’s music background – my dad is a jazz musician.
The first dance song will ideally represent your journey together, but not every couple has the song that perfectly summarises their relationship, reminds them of the day they met, or their first holiday together. You may not have a song that they think is suitable for a first dance – but it is YOUR day – it doesn’t have to be a clichéd love song. You dance to whatever you jolly well like. If you’re stuck, maybe by listening to lots of music, you could find the song that tells your story.
There’s a wealth of music out there on music platforms, Youtube etc. search the genre of music or artists you like; listen to remixes, instrumentals, covers by other artists. Find new music, listening to the suggestions that pop up based on your previous searches. Literally get lost in music!
When you find your song, be creative! Perhaps have it sung by a live band, personalise your song further by asking your musicians to play around with the arrangement, or find an instrumental version (a beautiful piece of music doesn’t need lyrics). TIP: Ask the band to record the final version before the wedding day so you can rehearse your dance to the song in advance!
So keep scrolling down for my list, Sit back with a glass of wine on a Friday evening – or a cuppa on your Sunday morning – with your beau and Enjoy my Spotify Playlist here.
Get in touch to find out more about how The Love Of Dance can help find the perfect song, create amazing first dance memories by teaching you to dance together through wedding dance lessons, and arrange the live music to accompany your first dance and beyond, into the evening.
If I Ain’t Got You – Alicia Keys
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Andy Williams
My Baby Just Cares For Me – Nina Simone
Here Comes The Sun – Nina Simone
Jose James – I’ve added Jose to my playlist because he’s covered so many soul/RnB classics, alongside writing his own tracks. His voice is like a cosy hug. Go down that maze of following his songs/albums on any music platform and enjoy his delicious voice.
Lovely Day – Bill Withers
At Last – Etta James
I Only Have Eyes For You – So many versions! Ella’s is a lovely upbeat version. The Flamingos: not everyone’s cuppa, but totally cool and chilled!
You and I (Nobody in the World) – John Legend
What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong (of course!)
It’s so wonderful to see the journey a couple go on through the first wedding dance lessons. . Here’s Jenni and Martin sharing a special little insight from their final rehearsal to the performance on their wedding day! . Jenni and Martin learnt the basics in #foxtrot through the lessons, so they have a dance they can carry to more dance floors, weddings and parties throughout the rest of their lives! Their journey continues… 💜 . As with many of The Love Of Dance couples, they hadn’t danced together before. ✨🌠🌟 . (sorry the footage isn’t the best quality!)
For the last two years I’ve been sharing my body. This week am I going to stop sharing. I’m starting the painful night-weaning journey. Don’t get me wrong – it was enjoyable for a while. I enjoyed the feeling of breastfeeding (BF) and nourishing my Baby-O, knowing I’m giving her a good start in life, but as she’s getting older and wiser, she now knows how to play the tantrum card to make me cave in if I don’t give her the goods. I’m over waking up in the night with little vice like hands grabbing, ney, pulling my nipples until I feel like they’re going to twang off. Now I’m ready. I heard a phrase recently; I’m all touched out. Sums it up perfectly. I want to reclaim my body.
I’d been waiting over the last few months to feel mentally strong enough to deal with the exorcist style behaviour of my little one when I deny her comfort at night. We’ve also been through major changes moving up to my parents and I didn’t want to take away the one constant in her world until I knew she’d settled. She’s just turned two – I don’t think there is much milk left for her, so I don’t think it’s a hunger thing when she sits up in her cot at night and shouts for ‘Mummy’ or ‘Milk’.
I don’t think she is actually awake either. My mum helped me out earlier on this year with getting her to sleep with no help from me – she can now lie down at the start of the night contentedly at night and fall asleep without BF. When she wakes up at night and can’t help herself back to sleep, I think she has maybe just roused herself from sleep (maybe to pee?!), sits up immediately, almost as if sleep ‘walking’, and won’t lie back down in her cot.
I try to resist picking my little sleep thief up but, she starts moaning, and, of course as my downfall, for most of her life I’ve just brought her into bed with me and breast-fed her right back to sleep again. I MISS MY SLEEP!!
So last night I steeled myself to battle through screeching and squealing, hitting and kicking which is so distressing, and so loud I’m worried will wake the neighbourhood dogs, and went my first night since her birth, without feeding my daughter back to sleep.
As morning arrives I have a feeling she’s going to be as tired as me today I’ve gone for 31 hours without feeding her. Just as I think I’m not producing much milk, by mid-morning my boobs feel like they’re going to explode – like I’m stowing two rapidly inflating beach balls. The pressure.
I get to an Aqua Aerobics class. The motion of the water as I’m bouncing away almost gives me a massage and the cool water feels so good on my chest! Plus the upper body workout should hopefully boost the circulation, and my increasing beach balls start to feel soothed.
I think they accurately call it ‘Engorged Breast’. Exactly how I feel – Engorged. (I read that cabbage leaves can soothe milk filled boobs? Hmm – attractive!).
Throughout the early night my boobs feel so uncomfortable and I begin to think about the best way to pump some milk. Hand pumping through the pain doesn’t appeal. The last thing I need now is a squeeze. I have a laugh at myself – I was willing Baby-O almost to come to MY rescue. I wait to see how the mini mitts clamouring at my nipples at 3am will feel if I resist her milk…and I wait. I wait, lying AWAKE in pain, starting to feel feverish, until she wakes up around 1am and I crumble – she has a feast on both sides, relieving the pressure around my chest. Baby-O and I both fall back to sleep satisfied and relieved, respectively.
Day 2 of my mission, on repeat of resisting the feeding, with the anticipation of the previous day’s discomfort and distress, we are both much calmer. Miraculously I don’t get the same pressure in my chest. It’s almost as if someone has started to turn off the tap. I think my milk flow is starting to adapt.
One week later
Over the week to come I’m down to only one ‘feed’ (I think she’s just using me for comfort now as I don’t think there is any milk left!), mostly in the break of day around 4am, when I still relent into a moment of whatever it takes to get Baby-O back to sleep. This is progress. She still wakes earlier in the night and I’ve resisted feeding her – hoping it sends the signal of ‘it’s dark and there’s no milk at nighttime’.
I have no desire to go back to the new-mum reading frenzies of the many conflicting blog/mummy community/sleep expert advice at 2am whether for sleep training tips, minor illness etc, which usually only happened in my bleary eyed state during the night. I always ended up confusing myself even more. Now I’m going along with instinct, trusting that surely soon enough she’ll crack on…preferably not when she’s 5 and still attached to me. I hope this is the start of dropping the only ‘feed’ of the day completely. I have to remember I’ve got this far, it probably won’t take much more to go the final steps – of not bringing her into bed with me at all. I’m hoping soon enough she won’t wake up so much…must stay strong!
I think I’ve cracked it…
Before I know it I’m 2 weeks on and I haven’t breastfed her for 3 days. I think I’ve cracked it. She still delves into my top during our cuddles when she’s bumped her knee etc, but I gently prize her hand out, telling her there’s no Mummy’s milk now, and she gives up!
I am having a moment whilst I type this. It’s the end of an era. The end of my little girl’s baby phase, as she is no longer reliant on me for her source of liquid food…as much as that is possibly the last time I’ll have another life so dependant on me, it feels empowering. I knew it would have to happen some day soon. The distressing nights when I never thought it would happen seem a distant memory – and to make me feel like it is all worth while, she actually slept for 10 hours solid last night in her own cot! Then I remember why I’m doing this. To make a full night’s sleep normal again for me!
We’ve come a long way
I love looking back on my journey with Baby-O and the remarkable things my body has done to produce this perfect little being and the care and nurture I have given to make her as healthy and happy as she is today. I think about the post-natal recuperation my body has gone through: walking, swimming and doing Pilates to get stronger again; strengthening my posture to repair some niggly tingly muscle spasms after the hours of slouching whilst feeding her, no matter how mindful I tried to be; knowing my pelvic floor has a way to go so I don’t have to cross my legs when I sneeze; and trying to get my dancing fit body back (still a little way to go!).
I feel though this is the last piece in the jigsaw of transitioning her to find her independence, from giving my body to help her nourish and flourish. And for me to transition away from my ‘New Mum’ phase, to the next stage of my woman-hood, by reclaiming back my body.
Picturing a Summer of running through fields; on the beaches – effortlessly picking up the kids and spinning round with them as you go, without feeling the heave-ho as you lift them? It’s the classic, carefree image of parenthood.
Keeping strong and fit has wonderful benefits for parents, not only preparing the body for all the physical eventualities that comes with having kids, but also helping parents to enjoy play time with them on those great days out and holidays to come.
Having fun play time with kids can physically demanding, as can sitting breast feeding for hours; rocking a child to sleep; managing their raging tantrums! A stronger body will help you to match their energy whilst reducing the chance of long-term injury to joints and muscles.
Dancing Mama Fitness helps parents prepare for the physicalities of parenthood through Matwork Pilates – the perfect mind and body workout for parents, holistically supporting mental health and wellbeing.
The many benefits of regular Pilates practice for parents include:
improves strength for demanding activities with kids;
improves and strengthens posture/alignment, corrects postural issues;
improves physical health – helping to stave off illnesses;
makes us happier! Happy parents = happy home;
beats stress – Pilates focusses on coordinating movement and breath, known through many practices to calm the mind;
helps us live longer lives – we want to see our kids thrive well into the future, right?!
It’s not just about making time to respect and care for our bodies and mental health – it’s about the benefits we’re passing on to our children as a result!
Personal Pilates Tuition
Dancing Mama Fitness will set up small group and 1:1 Pilates just for you and your friends. We come to a venue near you, at a time that suits you, for a programme of personal training sessions around Beds, Herts & Bucks.
Bring your babies or young kids to join in with fun sessions incorporating the babies into exercise with and without baby carriers – or leave the kids at home!
We love the outdoors, so if possible we’ll take our workouts to the wild and connect with nature for some feel good, holistic mind and body vibrations too.
Share the cost of sessions with a group of friends – the feeling of personal training on a more affordable level – or treat yourself to a personal, bespoke programme of sessions.
Example cost: From as little as £8 per person per hour, paying per month and based on a group of 5 people at your home (subject to size/suitability of flooring/terrain!).