Arlene Phillips talks to Fabafterfifty about her new book, Dance to the Musicals, and how dance can be a great way to get fit over 50.
How effective is dance as part of a fitness regime for women over 50?
Dance is so important for a number of reasons, not just for the physical benefits but also for mental agility. Learning and following a series of steps keeps your brain active and alert, which is so important when you are getting older. Dance is one of the most effective ways of lifting your spirits and giving you a feeling of wellbeing.
For those who hate the thought of ‘exercise’ why should they choose dance?
Dance is a much more sociable way of exercising, for those that don’t like the solitary feel of working out in a gym, dance is a great way to catch up with friends or even meet new people. Plus having the encouragement of those around you helps keep you going.
How often and for how long should someone dance in order to see and feel the benefits?
Even just ten minutes a day can make a huge change to your life. It can improve your posture and your breathing, as well as your confidence in the ability to lift your head and walk with your shoulders back and your stomach pulled in.
Getting Started with Dance
What would you advise those who want to dance, but are apprehensive about joining dance based classes?
Start at the beginners level, and choose something that appeals to you not just physically but also musically. If you love Latin rhythms then Salsa is the dance for you, or perhaps you love the songs from the 40’s, then you should try Ballroom. Musical Theatre and pop music are great for Jazz and Hip Hop, so find a class and give it a try.
What prompted you to write ‘Dance To The Musicals?
Musical Theatre is such an important part of my life, and I wanted to share my love for it with everyone while combining it with a fun and easy way to get fit.
Why did you choose the particular songs in the book to set the dance routines to?
The songs I chose are all from really famous musicals, many that have also been turned into films, and they all have great music to dance to.
How easy is it to follow the routines from the book?
It’s so simple! The steps are explained one by one, then it teaches you how to put them together, once you know them you can speed it up and dance the full routine. There’s also a DVD of some of the routines that teaches you step by step, then you can follow up and join in with my dancers.
How much space do you need at home to do the dance routines?
You might need to push the living room table out the way, but it’s all pretty contained, it just depends how many of you are there to join in of course!
I have to admit to buying and reading lots of different ‘exercise’ books, but that’s all I do, I just read them! Do you think Dance To The Musicals could inspire me (and others like me) to actually try the dances?
I hope it does! I think it’s a great book as it’s realistic in the expectation of what you can achieve and hopefully is accessible to everyone. Don’t think “I’ll never do this” from the start, just be positive, go with it, have fun, and dance to the musicals!