Tag Archives: dance

Happy New Year: The Year of Positive Energy

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HAPPY NEW YEAR

I can be a bit superstitious when it comes to New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day activities–I tend to believe that what happens on this particular night and this particular day can set the tone for an entire year. Last night, I knew that all I really wanted to do–aside from be with good friends–was dance. When we reached our second bar for the night, still fully clad in my scarf, my jacket, and vest, I began to feel the rhythm. My feet moved, my hips swayed, my head bobbed, and slowly I made my way to the biggest opening on the dance floor, stripping off my vest, my jacket, and my scarf. The Dance With Somebody Who Loves Me song came on and I continued to move losing myself in the music. I forgot there was anyone else even there at the moment. I felt at home in my dancing. A few moments later, a girl who had been dancing in the space earlier jumped in–and began dancing with me. I saw this at first as a challenge, but then it became poetic as we moved off one another’s spins, two steps and plies. I felt the energy as the people around us continued to watch with joy in their eyes. When the song ended, our dance with one another did too, but our smiles lasted long after. And as I stood with my friends, the woman approached me and said “Thank you for that…You have so much energy—positive energy. Your positive energy really got me out there to just let go like that. THAT made my night. So thank you.” I smiled and repeated the words “Positive Energy” back to myself. That’s EXACTLY how I want to set the tone for the new year–full of positive energy.

This morning I woke up hoping to carry that positive energy through my day by heading out to the Polar Bear Swim in Coney Island where I rang in the new year last year. Unfortunately, a nasty head cold kept me from making my way back out there today, but I did make it out to a Trooper Fitness Bootcamp class (for the first time!) in hopes of sweating out this gross fever and working out this cough.

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After leaving the bootcamp class, I felt a natural high from the workout but from also still finding a way to make the most of a day where I may have stayed in bed otherwise.

When I got home, I decided to take a poll to see how others brought in the new year, how they set their own tone. I’ve shared their New Year’s adventures below–check them out and then SHARE YOURS!

Lucas Gold (Second Time)
Polar Bear Swim – Asbury Park, NJ

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Suzanna Cameron and Tony Esper
First time Polar Bear Plungers: Coney Island, NY

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Michelle Pierson Young of Michelle at Play
p90x: “Not to brag but it feels better than a hangover”

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Hannah Brencher & Tammy Tibbetts
Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park, NYC & Letter Writing
Each year Hannah and Tammy write letters to themselves to open the following year (SO COOL!)

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Jennifer Romanelli & Prince Brathwaite of Trooper Fitness
Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park, NYC

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Laura Jaxheimer, Yoga Instructor
Brought in the new year doing what she’s passionate about: Yoga.

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I want to hear from you! What’d you do to kick off the New Year just the way you wanted to?

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July Roundup

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It’s been a few weeks since I’ve taken the time to just do a hobby and then focus on it in a blog post. In fact it’s been over a month. So what was the Hobby Hoarder up to all of July that inspired posts about  life lessons and embracing imperfection?

A LOT!

WEEK 1: The Hobby Hoarder kicked off July with a high energy-West African Dance Class that had live drummers! (Alvin Ailey)

WEEK 2: I kept the drum theme alive, as I banged out the second week of July with a class called PoundFIT which utilizes weighted drum sticks and: “is a full-body cardio jam session, combining light resistance with constant simulated drumming. The workout fuses cardio, Pilates, isometric movements, plyometrics and Isometric poses into a 45-minute series. Burn between 600 and 900 calories per hour, strengthen and sculpt infrequently used muscles, and drum your way to a leaner, slimmer physique – all while rocking out to your favorite music!” (PoundFit.com)

WEEK 3: On July 14, I kicked into hobby overload and did a two hobby day: First, I attended my first Improv Everywhere event (the Mp3 Experiment)

Then I attacked my first scavenger hunt which required doing ridiculous poses outside of store fronts!

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WEEK 4: I balanced the high-energy month with a round of Pilates at CorePilates in Union Square where I very quickly learned just how different Pilates and yoga are from one another as my abs (wait I have those?) screaaamed through most of the workout. The result? A better feeling of strength through my core–and pain with laughter. Totally worth it.

WEEK 5: I rounded out July with my 96th hobby: an upbeat, memorable Masala Bhangra class at Crunch gym with  an amazing teacher named Sarina Jain.

August is looking JUST as jam packed with some pretty amazing activities in store including a stab at the sport of Roller Derby in Bethlehem, Pa, a second skydiving experience, and the chance to ride shotgun in a race car! Trust me, I’ve already set aside time to watch Whip It and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby to mentally prepare for the aforementioned.

What are YOUR plans for August? What have you been putting off doing?
Now’s the chance to do it! Don’t wait. Go. Now.

Remember: “Don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t do something. You got a dream-you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you, you can’t do it. You want something. Go get it. Period.” – The Pursuit of Happyness 

 

Choreographing a Better Life

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If someone had told me two years ago that I’d nearly be spinning in circles on my head, swinging around a pole, getting jazzy with it, or frequenting a fitness based Caribbean reggae dance class three-four times a week by the year 2013, i would have laughed in their face. Two years ago, I was the girl who walked out of Zumba classes because she couldn’t follow the steps of the instructor and felt too embarrassed to go on. Two years ago, I was the girl who judged herself against the professional dancers and professional fitness instructors in infomercials who appeared flawless. Two years ago, I was the girl who didn’t give herself a chance to last through a dance class because she had given up before she had even stepped up.

The truth is that long before those Zumba classes, I had deemed myself incapable of breaking it down to a steady beat. I had thrown in the towel. I was ready to enroll in therapy for the choreographically challenged–to stand up and say–no wait–YELL,  “Hello, my name is Libby and I can’t dance.”

What I didn’t realize two years ago was that by not giving myself a fair shot–or the classes themselves a fair shot, I was holding myself back. And the truth is that too often, that’s what we do: We give up amazing opportunities before we even give them a chance, and in the end we only hold ourselves back. 

So what exactly was I holding myself back from? I was holding myself back from learning to love dance–I was holding myself back from learning to love the way my body moves when I just let it–I was holding myself back from being free and I was holding myself back from…well…put simply–I was holding myself back from learning. And I LOVE learning. I always have. 

I recently had an epiphany, and when I say epiphany, I mean a full-on lightbulb popped over the head, type of epiphany.

As I swung left, and stutter stepped right in a class last week, I realized:

“Oh my goodness. Dance has taught me a lot this year…and by a lot…I mean: Dance could be a life coach.” 

The epiphany itself nearly knocked me off my feet.

So after class I decided to sit and compile the five biggest lessons that dance has taught me not just in terms of dance…But also in terms of the bigger picture: Life.  After reading through, I hope you’ll share some of your favorite life lessons you’ve learned through the activities you’re most passionate about.

Here goes:

1. No one is judging you. Well-Okay maybe one person is. And that’s you. But you shouldn’t be. Getting to the class in the first place is something to be proud of. Getting up and out to do ANYTHING you set your mind to is something to be proud of, especially when the weather–or our moods–or our mind is telling us otherwise.

Pole Dancing

2.  There isn’t an exactness to everything you do. In dance, if the teacher is getting her JLO on and you want to get your Beyonce on during a booty shake then by all means get your Beyonce on. Or men if you want to shake it like Michael when the teacher’s getting down like JT–then just do it. Add YOUR flavor. Just whatever you do–own it. Same goes for life: Own EVERYTHING you do–and never–EVER–stop.

3. Do it wrong. So I cheated on this one. I took this lesson from not just dance class but acting class as well. Do it all wrong. We learn from our mistakes. Our muscles learn from our mistakes. And questions are okay – no wait–they are great. Sure, teachers love flash mobs of amazingness but they don’t teach so that perfectionists come in. They teach because they want people to learn, they want people to get excited about being imperfect sometimes, they want people to embrace their passion. Part of the fun of a class –ANY class– is working your way up. Part of the fun of any challenge you take on in life is getting knocked down and feeling the sense of pride in getting back up.

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4. “When you assume. You make an a…” We all know the saying. We can’t judge a class–or a situation in life– before we even step foot in it. Not only does it reinforce any stereotypes or preconceived notions we have about the class/activity/event, but it also holds us back from possibly finding something we are truly passionate about. Prior to the hobby year, not only had I convinced myself that I wasn’t a dancer–but I had convinced myself I wasn’t fit for group  classes at all–that I didn’t fit the “look.” You know the “look” I am talking about–the look it seems that all the people have who participate in infomercials for the latest Zumba videos or aerobics dvds. The men are shirtless and ripped; the women are in sports bras and spandex–chiseled. That belief I concocted from stupid infomercials was wrong. In each and every dance class I’ve participated in this past year, people of all sizes and of all attire are taking part. People of all sizes and all attire are having a really amazing time. I choose to rock my college field hockey shorts and a white T. Cause that’s comfy–and cause that’s me. (And sometimes me –and sometimes comfy is a tiger suit–see last picture on the page).

5. The most important lesson of ALL. Just freaking dance like no one is watching. Please, I beg you. Refer back to number 1: no one is watching. The world is a wide open dance floor just waiting for you to dance on through, to make your art–to make your life.  So go on. Yes YOU…YOU and even YOU.. Dance. Dance. Dance.

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Motivational Soundtrack: Heather Fay

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“I feel so high – Like if I could fly
I feel so free – so free to be me
I wanna go up – I wanna get down
This feeling can’t stop – So put your hands up
I said put your hands up!”
-Machel Montano

A lot of people ask me if there are any hobbies that I have stuck with post-initial hobby year. The answer is, “Yes–a few.” And in fact, the one I’ve returned to the most is the fitness-based Caribbean reggae dance class called Pon De FLO And there are three simple reasons why I keep coming back:

 The freedom to be free and to dance, the kick-ass music, and last but certainly not least–I find myself coming back to the class because of the supportive and upbeat founder and teacher of Pon De FLO: Heather Fay.

But Heather is not just the Pon De FLO founder, instructor, and choreographer–she is a bright and motivational force, inspiring her classes of newbies and pro-floer’s to leave the negative vibes at the door, to stop thinking and to just dance. There is doubt in my mind that her vibrant energy and positive attitude is what keeps not only me but a number of her students coming back for MULTIPLE classes each week.

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Last week, when I asked “hobby coaches” to submit a motivational song for a blog post, I knew I had to ask Heather. But when I asked her–Heather didn’t submit just one song–she submitted a whole album of them.

She told me that her list of motivational songs could go on and on and then added why the songs motivate her:

“These songs motivate me because they all have the underlying motivation of living for today, enjoying life, and being true to yourself.”

She continued:

“The songs are also a reminder that no matter how hard life gets or how bad someone hurts you, you can dig deep within yourself and push forward because right when you feel you want to give up and throw in the towel–is when your story is born.”

What do you think? Are any of these on your motivational soundtrack? I know they’ve definitely been added to mine:

“Waiting for the End” – Linkin Park

“Written in the Stars” – Tinie Tempah ft Eric Turner

“Move Along” – The All-American Rejects

“Just like Heaven” – The Cure

“Living on the Edge” – Aerosmith

“Fly so High” – Machel Montano

“Simple Song” – Konshens

“Advantage” – Machel Montano

How to Relax Without Being a Lazy Bum

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After someone told me, recently, that I needed to rest–and to give myself a chance to relax, I laughed. And then I realized she was right–I’ve been on the go a lot. The problem is that when I think of relaxing, I think of the terrifying idea of wasting a day lying on a couch, legs dangling over the end, and a bag of chips within reach.

So I got to thinking what are good hobbies to do when you want to relax–but you don’t want to be a lazy bum? I came up with running, drawing, pottery, and dance. While running and dance may seem TOO active to be relaxing, I’ve learned that you can find ways to really “zen out” while doing even the most exhilarating of hobbies. (Lindsey Lewis over at MindBodyGreen even argues this feeling in the article “Why Meditation is Overrated” as she lists 9 activities you can definitely meditate on.)

I then began to wonder–what are other people doing to relax, but to also stay active both mentally and physically? So I took to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and posed a question:

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The results varied from activities like surfing, which is physical and can remove mental stress (unless of course you are terrified of that ocean like I am), to things I know I need to try– like painting and gardening which give the body a break but still exercises the mind a bit.

Here are some of the responses:

K.M.: “Gardening , it is relaxing and you can see results. Some are immediate but many are gradual little rewards of beauty for steady maintenance and patience. It helps the soul to work with your hands in the earth and with plants. Fresh air , sky and greenery. Also hiking. It’s the nature again, keeps things in life in perspective.”

Robert DeSanti: “I paint/draw pictures of dinosaurs, do tasks in bright colors. I do it cause it’s fun and makes me smile.”

His painting/drawing made me smile too .
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Julia Ember Ricciardi: “Cooking/baking! Because there is always a delicious pay-off in the end!”

Rachel Miller: “Gardening. I love digging in the dirt and being part of the growing process of plants. Plus the added benefits of adding beauty to the outside space and growing your own food.”

Ashley Castle: “Walking through my neighborhood, wine tasting, journaling.”

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 Adam Marland: For me, relaxing can mean a couple things. If I’m drained from a crappy work day or something, the goal is to check out mentally AND physically, and that means comfort food, beer, sweatpants, and movie marathon. If I want to relax physically but be engaged mentally, I just drive somewhere pretty and enjoy; a beach, a scenic overlook, whatever. The drive and getting out is as much the reward as the destination. In contrast, if I need to be engaged physically but not mentally, I find activity therapeutic; basketball if im in the city, but a hike or swimming hole are my favorites.”

Sarah Steeland: “Would have to be surfing for sure” (She even shared one of her awesome doodles to show)!

surfing sarah steenland

R.G.M.: “I love to hike around Turkey Mountain, a local spot with oodles of walking, biking and horse trails … just 3 miles from my house. And my favorite indoor hobby is photo editing. I can play with one pic for hours!”

Grant Ryan: “I have three said hobbies when I want to relax but not be lazy, the first is obvious, running – it might not sound like relaxing but its very zen to me, it clears my mind and eases my stress. No music, no phone, just a pair of sneakers and a road! The second is cooking, I love to create, and i find it artful and soulfully stimulating – it relaxes me in a different way, not so much zen as it is just adult play. Lastly I like to take a glass of red wine, and a new book and let my mind drift to worlds impossible – it might sound lazy, but I find it to be mental excersise and an escape from reality. I can literally go anywhere with the turn of the page. Wine isnt always necessary, but it definaltey relaxes me and it stimulates my creativity for hobby #2.”

Grant Ryan

Bekah Eaton: “Mudding!”

Emelie Samuelson:  “Slacklining, crocheting, or hiking.”

Joe Cicala: “I go to book stores and hang out in the cookbook section. Cooking at home is also relaxing. And at work when I make pasta and when I butcher and cure meat. That’s my zen time. I completely zone out and let my mind wonder.”

Jason Schneider: “I like to play Bass. I learn new songs and feel like I’m being productive/getting better at something, even though I’m just messing around playing music.”

A.M.: “WII Just Dance”

Hannah Brencher: “Is it possible to make gratitude into a hobby? If that be the case then gratitude has been my hobby for a while now. When I want to relax, but not be a lazy bum, I create care packages, and make cards, and just make things for people in my life that matter most to me. I roam the aisles of Target for little gifts or spend the afternoon writing letters “just because.” There is an indescribable feeling that comes from pouring myself onto people I love that never makes me feel lazy but leaves me feeling completely refreshed and relaxed. My hobby is also a remedy.”

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Photo Credit: Tiffany Farley

Celeste Headlee: “I have a strong sense of guilt whenever I sit down to watch “Mad Men” or “Downton Abbey” because I can hear my mother’s voice in my head saying incredulously, “Are you just going to sit there?” So, I have a whole host of hobbies that I can do while I’m seated. One of my favorites is needlepoint and cross stitch and I especially love the complicated variety that take months to complete.”

Tammy Tibbetts: “Reading in Central Park, Yoga for Runners class at Jack Rabbit NYC, and watching Mindy Project with my friend Erin to name a few!”

Maitland Ward Baxter: For sure yoga. Pretzeling myself helps me de-stress. #theflexibleshallnotbebentoutofshape

How about you–What are YOUR favorite hobbies to do when you want to RELAX but don’t want to be a lazy bum?

Here’s one of my drawings from when I want to relax–but I don’t want to be a bum…

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New York City Dance Parade

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Just a week ago, I mentioned that my pre-hobby anxiety before going to CrossFit was at an all-time high. I was worried what people would think of me, if I would be too weak, and if I would fail miserably. As I noted in the blog post—there clearly had been nothing to really worry about, but that didn’t mean that my pre-hobby anxiety never existed.

However, this week my pre-hobby anxiety was at an all time low. The only thing I felt going into this week’s hobby was excitement—pure and wonderful excitement. This week I was doing something totally novel, totally unique, and totally awesome. This week, I was doing the  7th Annual New York City Dance Parade!

I’ve watched the dance parade a number of times over the last few years. The key word in that sentence is “watched.” I should have never been watching…I should have been shimmying and shaking right along!

And not only was I signed up to do the 7th Annual New York City Dance Parade, I was signed up to break it down with the crew that won my heart on January 6—the Pon De FLO crew!

A note: Prior to the hobby year, I’ve written that dancing for me in public was difficult—especially in group       classes. A long time ago, I deemed myself choreographically challenged and found myself walking out of dance classes: I couldn’t get comfortable. I couldn’t keep up. I couldn’t smile and have fun—when that’s all I wanted to do at all–well get fit–but also–just have fun. During the hobby year I took several dance classes including pole dancinghip-hop, jazz, and tap.  And in June, I took part in a flash mob. Finally—dancing in large groups of people was becoming fun.

Then I took Pon de FLO  at the DANY Studio.  And I had an epiphany—dance wasn’t just fun. It was exciting. It was freeing. For the first time in a dance class, REALLY—the first time—I felt comfortable—comfortable to be me—comfortable to be free—comfortable to FLO!

So when Pon de FLO posted on their Facebook page that they were looking for participants to join for the 2013 New York City Dance Parade, I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t want to be cheering from the sidelines—I didn’t want to be restricted by some barricade. I wanted to be shaking my hips, stomping my feet, and breaking it down freely—I wanted to be in the parade, and I wanted it to be with the Pon De FLO troupe.

Prior to the parade, we had two rehearsals. While my opportunities to take the class since first jumping in at the beginning of the year had been limited due to my own scheduling conflicts, the group of men and women ready to move and groove down Boadway was quick to welcome me into their crew, for the parade, with open arms.

As I sat down in our first rehearsal and Heather (Founder of Pon De FLO) started telling us the details of the parade, I felt a smile spread wildly across my face. “This is freaking awesome,” I thought to myself. “FREAKING AWESOME.” I got so excited that when I left rehearsal I started sending texts to people that I hoped they could come out and support. Whether I looked good shaking my hips or I looked ridiculous, I wanted people to know that I was proud of my group and that I was extremely proud of my decision to dance in the parade at all.  I wanted people to want to dance too.

When I woke up on the day of the parade, I woke up with a smile on my face. And as I threw on my Pon De Flo shirt that Heather made for each of us, and as I buckled my fanny pack (yes, fanny pack), I began to two-step through the living room. “Gosh…the power of dance,” I thought. “Whew.”

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Upon arriving at our group’s meeting place, I could feel the positive energy already FLOwing ;). Everyone was decked out in the yellow, purple, and green Pon De FLO gear. Everyone was chatting—smiling—laughing—gearing up. I began introducing myself to a lot of the people I hadn’t met yet, grabbed coffee with a fellow flo-er, and warmed up for the parade by shaking it out to the music that was blasting out of our speakers which sat on top of our sponsor, Wicked Willy’s bike. Gracefully, I swayed my hips with one of my groupies to the sounds of reggae; freely, I busted a move to the sounds of Call Me Maybe as it blared out of a set of speakers. I guess it was Pop-De-Flo momentarily 😉

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Not before long, I bravely took my place in our groups formation. Patiently, we waited to begin moving along the route, and as we turned our first corner onto Broadway, from 21st street—a smile expanded across my face—the same smile that I felt form at the first rehearsal—this one, however, was even bigger. And as we began to choreograph our way towards Astor Place and then St. Thompkins Square, I laughed to myself: “Two years ago, I was sitting behind the barricades, thinking I could never be in the parade. Now look at me—I’m making moves like Beyonce at the Super Bowl.”

The truth is two years ago, I was sitting behind the barricades thinking I would never have the courage to dance in the parade. Sure I’ve danced at parties or at bars/clubs when my friends have gone out—maybe at some karaoke—but never, before this past year, did I believe in myself enough to partake in such magnitude of an event.

Honestly, nothing can describe the feeling of being able to dance so freely down Broadway in New York City. Nothing can describe the feeling of being able to forget what you look like—to forget what other people might be thinking of you; to feel accepted, so quickly, in a group of people who really just met you one night prior. Nothing can describe the feelings and emotions that overwhelmed my stomping feet or my shaking hips, my body—or the feelings and emotions that overwhelmed my heart.

What an amazing parade—what an amazing day.

PonDeFlo

     Photo Courtesy Pon De FLO

DJ Libs

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Like the dance moves? Got your own? Good cause I am having an 80’s/90’s dance bash at The Alphabet Lounge (Professional DJ–not me though I know you loved my beats). See the invitation below:

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