Ice dancing can offer a fun and surprisingly accessible way of getting your body fit and healthy through enjoyable dance exercise. Here’s our guide on how ice dancing could lead you on the right path towards a more healthy and active lifestyle.
An introduction to ice dancing
Ice dancing is becoming increasingly popular amongst couples, with more and more skating rinks offering cheaper entry and flexible opening hours. This dance requires two people to take part, with the pair skating to music of a definite rhythm and beat.
Ice dance has been a Winter Olympic sport since 1976 and is defined by the subtlety and grace of its performers. While it would be an oversimplification to suggest that ice dancing is just another version of traditional ballroom dancing, it does place a number of safety restrictions on its competitors, with certain throws, lifts and jumps disallowed. Regardless, ice dancing is a great way of improving your body’s health and fitness, offering a fresh alternative to floor-based dance routines.
Key fitness benefits of ice dancing
Ice dancing has many key health and fitness benefits, in addition to those already associated with dance exercise. Benefits of regular ice dancing include the following:
- Ice dancing improves reflexes and reaction times — In general, dancing is a speedy activity that really gets you moving to a steady beat. However, dancing on an ice rink takes things to a new level, offering fast and furious exercise. As a result, you’ll soon adapt to the slippery surface, with faster reflexes and agility helping you to react to sudden changes of pace and direction.
- Ice dancing develops balance and body control — Ice dancing can be a cruel sport for the beginner, with small mistakes easily punishable by sudden crashes to the floor. Nevertheless, your body will soon respond to the challenges of ice dancing with stronger control — and overall balance — keeping you on your feet.
- Ice dancing effectively stretches muscles — Ice dancing encourages stretching, with challenging moves and sudden twists working out a variety of key muscle groups to keep them in shape.
- Ice dancing improves blood circulation — A good form of cardiovascular exercise, regular ice dancing sessions will improve blood flow around the dancer’s body, providing muscles with more oxygen and therefore allowing them to perform effectively over much longer periods of time.
Key styles of ice dancing
Ice dancing competitions normally contain three different elements, all of which can be incorporated into amateur classes or training sessions.
Compulsory ice dance routines — As their name suggests, compulsory dance routines are those that follow a set pattern of steps and directions. These dances generally cover half a circuit or a full circuit of the ice rink, with dancers skating in time to standard pieces of music, many of them classical in style. This is what the first half of the Short Dance covers.
Original ice dance routines — Original dance routines form a keystone of major ice dancing competitions. Here, dancers are allowed to choose the music they skate to, as long as it matches a set rhythm. They are also able to come up with their own maneuvers to match this music, and are encouraged to be inventive.
Free ice dance routines — Free dance routines offer ice dancers most creative freedom during competitions. Skaters are able to pick the rhythms and music they dance to themselves. Free dance routines can last up to 4 minutes and may include lifts, spins, and many difficult or unusual tricks, to score high marks with the judges.
What to expect from your first ice dancing class
Ice dancing obviously requires an existing degree of skating competence. However, you don’t have to be a world champion figure skater to get ahead in the world of ice dance. As long as you feel comfortable on the ice rink, there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying the varied health and fitness benefits of dance exercise.
Beginner lessons will teach everything from good tempo, footwork and posture through to team building with a variety of partners. Friendly tutors will be well aware of your initial concerns and will soon ease any lingering doubts. So what are you waiting for?
Key ice dancing tips and more information
Ice dancing offers a real alternative to the confines of traditional dance floor workouts. However, before you launch straight into ice dance lessons, it’s best to stay level-headed. Even if you are a confident skater, it’s unlikely you’re going to become the next ice dancing star overnight. With its combination of rhythmic skating and precision, ice dancing is a tricky thing to master and it’s best to take one step at a time. Don’t feel deterred if progress proves slow; practice really does make perfect.