Doing the Things that Scare You – Pushing your Personal Dance and Fitness Boundaries
Whether you’re an absolute beginner or a seasoned pro, taking that next step in a new adventure is always terrifying. It doesn’t matter if your upcoming adventure is trying out a new style entirely, or if its expanding and evolving in your current activity – so long as you’re trying something new, chances are you’re feeling a little bit of fear towards it.
Fear is an interesting element in dance and fitness, particularly because it can manifest in many different ways. When fear appears in the form of caution, it helps keep ourselves (and others) safe from hurting ourselves, and can thus be very useful in many contexts. However, when we dwell on our fears for too long, to the point that we shut ourselves off from trying anything new, the apprehension brought about by our fear then becomes counterproductive, and makes us hold back on many potentially fulfilling and exciting experiences.
It is therefore important to overcome our fears in dance and fitness activities, but to do so carefully so that we do not risk our physical and emotional wellbeing. Striking this balance can be tricky – you want to be careful but not overly anxious, to be open-minded enough to immerse yourself in the experience but level-headed enough to understand your hard limits and to know when too much is being asked.
Doing things that scare you will make you better at your dance/fitness activity (after all, how can one hope to improve if you only do things that you’re already comfortable with). It is therefore important to understand how you can reasonably conquer your fears without throwing all caution to the wind.
Take a leap of faith – or take small steps with faith
The first step is always the hardest to take, because of all the worries and anxieties that we build up in our minds. We worry about all the worst case scenarios and use this as a reason to convince ourselves not to try something new. The problem is that if you continuously do this with all new/unfamiliar dance and fitness activities, you’ll never improve or grow. Sometimes the best thing to overcome this fear is to take a leap of faith and push yourself into trying that new activity, all hands in. Go for that class you’ve been thinking about doing but never signed up for. Make that first attempt at the new dance move you tried. Once you’ve started, you’re likely to come to the realisation that the activity you were scared off wasn’t as frightening as you thought it would be. Yes, it might be difficult, and you’re probably not going to get it right the first time, but at least you started your journey towards getting a new skill!
Taking a leap of faith does require you to embrace more of your fears right off the bat, and truth be told it might not be for everybody. Fortunately, there are small steps you can take to build up to trying that new dance/fitness activity that’s been scaring you. Ask or look around for a good studio/teacher/class that has had positive reviews and place your faith in them that they know what they’re doing. If the activity requires specific personal equipment (yoga mat, blocks, stretch bands etc), invest in good quality products and trust that they will provide the support you need to be able to thrive. Instead of taking an open (“all levels class”), take an introductory class that will focus on basics and a string foundation. There are many ways you can build up to the activity that scares you, and if you take it one step at a time, it won’t seem so daunting anymore.
Embrace the fear – it’s okay to admit it out loud
Fear is often worsened when we keep it to ourselves or try to suppress it. Instead of trying to ignore the fear, try embracing it! It’s ok to admit to yourself that you’re scared to try a new move or activity. Once you acknowledge your fear, you can start to analyse it and move forward. Try to discover what exactly are you afraid of – once you know this, you can take targeted actions to lessen your fears. Afraid you won’t be able to keep up with other? Consider taking a private lesson that is tailored to your own pace! Scared you lack certain skills for the class? Call the studio as have them help you assess which classes might be better suited for you. The key to conquering fear is understanding it, and you can only understand it when you acknowledge it.
It is also ok to admit your fear to other people, especially those in a position to help you. If you’re nervous, talk to your instructor about it – they’re likely to be able to assuage your doubts and hesitations. This is particularly important if your fear comes from not knowing what to expect. Your instructor can give you a “roadmap” of how the class (or term of classes) is going to look like. If you dance with a partner or in a group mate, admitting your fear to them enables them to help you with it. They’ll be able to provide advice and support to help you overcome that fear.