Monday, 2 January 2017

Taking the first step

Yesterday, I was reading this lovely blog from Sara Shrapnell "I'm perfect for bellydance and so are you".

It struck a particular chord with me, not just because this is the time of year when I am thinking about welcoming new dancers into my classes, but also because of a conversation I had with one of my Personal Training contemporaries a couple of weeks ago.

He was telling me about potential clients he had been talking to, who were delaying getting onto their exercise problem because of reasons like: "I want to lose a bit of weight before I start in the gym", or "I want to get a bit more fit before I attend fitness classes". And we chuckled, because looking at it from the other side we can see that these barriers aren't real. If you haven't got fit sitting at home so far, then another few weeks of it isn't going to help; the purpose of fitness training is to help you reach those goals, the sooner you start, the sooner you get there.

But I do understand and empathise with these feelings. Most people fear things like being watched, or doing badly at something, or looking ridiculous. Or being watched while doing something badly and looking ridiculous.

Every time we think about starting out on something new, those little fears creep up on us, and that's OK and perfectly normal, but I'd like to avoid them spoiling your fun if at all possible. It's not uncommon for potential dancers to email me a few times, then turn up several months later when they have worked up the courage.... then tell me they wished they had started sooner. They've missed out on so much fun, friendships and dance time sitting at home worrying. So let's take a look at those worries and see what we can do with them.

What if I'm no good at it?

OK, brace yourself.

In your first lesson, you will not be any good at it. Nobody is. Talent, for those lucky enough to have it, will only take you so far, and even the most gifted new dancer is going to make mistakes and find challenges in their early lessons. Equally there are some amazing dancers out there who started out barely able to step on the beat - at least two of the best dancers in the bellydance world have gone on record saying that they gave up briefly in the early stages because they thought they were no good.

The good news is that there is absolutely no shame in struggling in your early lessons. Everybody in the class has been in your shoes at some point. They won't judge you, they just want you to enjoy yourself, keep coming and dance with them. That's assuming they even notice....

I don't want people watching me.

This is a fear that everyone, new or experienced, has about any dance class, fitness class or gym session. The good news here is that it is entirely unfounded.

In class, everybody is focused on their own dance. The more experienced dancers get more challenging things to do, so they are working just as hard as you are and concentrating just as much on things like not falling over and keeping their arms in a sensible place.

The only person who does pay attention to your dancing would be the teacher. The teacher's job is to make sure you are safe and offer positive, helpful feedback. You won't be put on the spot, or singled out; no decent teacher is that cruel to their beginners.

I might look ridiculous.

Yeah you might. But so might everyone else and bellydance class is the perfect place to let rip with all of your ridiculousness and be embraced for doing so! We love your ridiculousness.

I strongly believe in throwing myself into dance, no matter how scary it might be, because the best results always come from going all out. I am never going to think negatively of someone who turns up, does their best and has a blast doing it.

If you are worried about what to wear whilst being your bad self in class, check out this little post for more detail about what to wear to bellydance class.

This dude is scary, but he doesn't come to class.
So do it! I believe in you!

Starting anything new is always challenging, but know that when you come to class you will be surrounded by people who support you and want you do well.

Still worried, then how about you try one of the following:

  • Contact the teacher, and ask questions. Don't worry about asking silly questions, we've had them all, they aren't that silly.
  • Take a friend for moral support. You might be doing them a favour by introducing them to a new hobby they will love.
  • Ask for someone to meet/expect you. I'm always happy to meet a new dancer at the door and introduce them to the rest of the class.
  • Interact with the community via social media pages etc, so that you "know" some of the people who might be there.

Want to know more about what to expect from your first foray into bellydance lessons? Check out this previous blog, my FAQs, contact me or join my Facebook page. I'm always happy to answer questions and reassure you.