Just like any other physical activities, it’s important to warm up our bodies before we ballroom dance. Rather than jumping into the dance hold and go, we have compiled some basic warm-ups that you can do with your partner and alone to get your entire body ready for your ballroom dance lesson or practice. Try them in the order below to progressively work through the body.
1. Walking Knee to Chest
This dynamic stretch is a great way to slowly get your body moving while stretching main muscle groups. It can be done walking as seen in the video or standing in place. It is also a great balance exercise!
Stand with one leg straight in front of you and one straight behind, then slowly bend the back leg down into a lunge position. Once there, slowly straighten the back leg out back to the starting position. Key points to remember: keep the front knee in line with the toes and try to lower your hips in the middle of your legs. Don’t let the front knee bend in front of the toes as this can cause knee pain. Your legs will be more than ready to Tango after this exercise!
3. Partner Calf Stretch
Stand face to face with your partner and lunge one leg back. Try to get the back heel on the floor for a nice calf stretch while pushing against your partner’s hands for resistance. Make sure to keep the front knee in line with the toes when lunging. This can also be done pushing against a wall if you do not have a partner.
4. Partner Quad Stretch
Use your partner as a balance point and grab the opposite leg into your hand to stretch your quad. The goal is to keep your balance while stretching the top leg. To get more of a stretch, pull the foot higher.
5. Forward Bend
Stand with feet together and starting with the top of the head, slowly roll down through the spine until your hands reach the floor. Reverse this motion by rolling back up to standing-your head should be the last thing up! If you find this too difficult, keep the knees bent or place your hands on a higher surface to lighten the stretch.
Neck, Back and Shoulder Exercises:
6. Shoulder Rolls
Easy, quick and great to get you ready for dancing in frame! Try to keep the rips in and abdominals engaged.
7. Neck Stretch
Grab your head with your right hand and slowly pull down with the right arm, stretching the left side of your neck. Switch sides and try both a few times!
8. Shoulder Activation on Wall
Warm up your shoulders, arms and core with this dynamic exercise. Standing against a wall, work on keeping your posture strong- shoulders down and back, abdominals engaged, and ribs tucked in. Extend your arms overhead then slowly bend them driving your elbows down towards your waist, then straighten the arms back up to the starting position. Try your best to keep your arms sliding on the wall during the movement. This will activate your shoulders and core, and also be an active stretch for your arms and shoulders. See the photos for the correct posture.
9. Partner Shoulder Stretch
Stand face to face with your partner and place your hands on their shoulders, walk your hips away from them while bending forward. Keep the back straight and head in line with your spine. Try to keep the abdominals engaged while you push your torso towards the grounds to stretch those shoulders. This can also be a great hamstring stretch!
10. Partner Chest Opener
Stand back to back with your partner and hold hands. Step one leg out in front of you in a lunge position while keeping hands connected to your partner. Your arms will naturally pull behind you, stretching your shoulders. You can bend into the front leg more for a bigger stretch, or try keeping your feet together and working on counterbalancing!
11. Partner Backbend
Stand facing your partner, grab hands. Slowly bend backwards with your upper bodies, using each other as resistance! This will be great to practice counterbalancing as well as stretching your lower and mid back. Make sure to come in and out of this slowly.
12. Side Body Stretch
Start by facing your partner and holding hands; slowly open your body to the side while doing a side lunge with the legs and letting your arm extend overhead. Once in a comfortable side bend, straighten the inside leg to increase the stretch. Gently unwind back to neutral and try it again. This will stretch your obliques and shoulders and get you ready for dancing frame!
What is your favorite warm up before your dance class? Please share with us!
This post is written by Duet's instructor, Ashton. If you like this post, you might also be interested in Differences between Salsa, Bachata, Merengue and Cha Cha.
The Duet Team is a group of friendly dancers who are passionate about helping people and sharing the joy of ballroom dance. And we love to make new friends and have fun at work! Our studio, Duet Dance Studio, is a boutique studio located in Chicago West Bucktown. We offer ballroom dance lessons, wedding dance instruction and kids dance classes. Skype dance lessons are also available! Dances we teach include Salsa, Swing, Tango, Bachata, Merengue, Waltz and Foxtrot. Sign up for an introductory dance lesson now to get started!