Robin Peter Zander
Author Archives: Robin Peter Zander

What Do You Mean By Dance?

By Robin Zander

My friend Ben Weston teaches men to dance. He even gave a TED talk about why it is a problem in the world that men don’t dance more, which I highly recommend.

Personally, I have taken a different extreme and train classical ballet, about as far from dancing in bars as it is possible to get while still sharing the term “dance.”

I learned to dance as an adult, and did so with a lot of unnecessary stress. It need not be so hard for others, and I’ve lately begun exploring why people who want to dance more regularly don’t do so. One of the conclusions is that that most of us are too narrow in how we define dance.

Dance can be anything

  • Classical ballet
  • Zumba
  • Pre-work dance parties
  • Aerial silks
  • Dancing in bars
  • My mother’s aerobics class
  • West Coast Swing classes
  • Dancing around your kitchen in your socks

Let’s redefine dance

Instead, by setting the definition of dance as something beyond our reach, many of us have set ourselves up for failure. It isn’t enough to hold hands and dance in the kitchen, or even take a west coast swing dance class. We have to aim high. We don’t dance because we look silly, forgetting that is can be learned in any environment including the privacy of our own homes.

Set your goals lower. Don’t worry about bolstering your motivation and “trying harder.” Make your success easy and often. Redefine dance to be something you can do with ease and will enjoy. Start there, and more will follow.

I have begun to coach people in how to dance every day, regardless of what kind or what that dancing looks like. If you’re interested in learning how to dance every day, email me at robin@robinpzander.com.

Start To Dance Every Day (By Starting Small)

By Robin Peter Zander

I am currently dancing classical ballet about 20 hours each week and am about to start a gig performing with the San Francisco Opera. Regularly, I hear some version of admiration followed by self-denial, like: “That’s great that you dance so much. I have two left feet.”

I always say the same thing: “You can, too.” To begin dancing, start simply. It doesn’t have to be complicated. 

The 7 Simple Steps To Dance

  1. Make sure you are alone in a room. No one is watching you.
  2. Turn on a song that you know well and enjoy.
  3. Close your eyes.
  4. No, really: close your eyes!
  5. Listen to the music.
  6. Begin moving in any way to the music that you hear
  7. Pay attention to how you are moving – both how it feels and what you are actually doing
  8. Congratulations, you just danced!

We make “dance” to mean performing under pressure or doing something that is incredibly hard. While these things are fine desired outcomes, they are much to big to begin with. We have to start small, in order to quickly proceed to bigger and lofier goals. So play some music, close your eyes, and move. That counts and having done so, you’ve danced today! Congratulations!

There’s much more to how to dance regularly, and I’ll be following up with posts about other things that people use to hold them back.

I have begun to coach people (for free) in how to dance every day. BJ and I interested in people who want to dance everyday but don’t. If you are interested in FREE coaching on this, join the Facebook group or fill out our brief Dance Every Day survey.

Appreciate Your Progress

By Robin Zander

In any learning process, appreciation is essential. Celebrating yourself throughout a learning process will make the whole experience more enjoyable, and incidentally faster.

Appreciate where you are

Appreciating where you are right now is probably the most difficult aspect of appreciating the learning process. Most of us want to be better, more successful, more fulfilled than we are now. That’s fine. Striving is a great attribute. But it is also important to acknowledge with compassion or gratitude where you are right now. I find it easiest to do this just after a successful practice interval. For example, when I am enjoying my runner’s high or just after a great ballet class is when I feel the most proud and appreciative of where I am right then.

Appreciate progress

The appreciation of progress comes of noticing progress. I often get down on myself for not learning as quickly as I think I should. Of course, this self-judgment impedes progress. Instead, there are several simple ways to notice how much you are changing.

  1. Know the steps. This requires some amount of forethought: knowing each of the steps along the way to where you would eventually like to be. I find it most useful to set a specific goal and then break down all of the possible permutations of steps that will allow me to reach that goal. I describe an example of this in my story of achieving the gymnastics giant.
  1. Record progress. Even if you aren’t going to break down each of the steps towards every specific goal – which does require a lot of thinking – it is still useful to monitor your learning. There are many tools for this sort of self-monitoring, but for my own physical studies I find a video recording my progress to be the best measuring device.

Appreciate future goals

This is probably the easiest for most people. Future goals are where you would like to go. But the important thing to know about goal setting is that getting upset for not being there yet is only going to impede your progress. By all means, set ambitious goals. Then get excited about accomplishing them, not down on yourself for not being there yet.

Appreciate where you are, your progress and your goals for the future.

If you’d like help learning to appreciate progress and expedite learning, I am currently using the Tiny Habits Method to coach people how to dance every day for free. Contact me through my Tiny Habits page.

Learn Handstands with the Tiny Habits Method

Taking small steps is the fastest way to progress in any new skill. Unfortunately, handstands are almost never taught according to this dictum. Especially with a physical feat as unusual as standing or walking on your hands, every student and most teachers want the outcome, the end result of balancing upside down, very quickly. It is human nature to see a goal and attempt to accomplish that outcome now. But in the case of handstands, this push impedes progress.

Make Learning Easier

There are two ways to adopt new behaviors: increase motivation or decrease the barrier for entry. As a fitness trainer, I have seen that the primary way people are “encouraged” to get more fit is through pressure and guilt. This results in gym goers feeling guilty for not ever using their memberships. The same holds true for handstands. Many more people want to learn handstands than actually take the time to break down handstands into the component, learnable parts, and practice them regularly enough to achieve mastery.

Take Baby Steps

Consider how infants learn to walk: they take innumerable, incremental steps, while maintaining a sweet curiosity that keeps them from becoming overwhelmed. If you fail repeatedly and then get frustrated you will be slower to achieve your ultimate goal. Instead we will examine all of the incremental steps that make up learning handstands, just like an infant learns to scoot, crawl, and cruise before walking freely on her own. Have patience, and follow the steps. If you do, you will learn your fearless handstands very quickly!

Watch this video to understand the value of learning the component parts of a handstand: http://bit.ly/X4O4ze

Make Practice Easy

Handstands are quite easy to learn when practiced as component parts. Instead of just forcing an inversion and hoping for the best, the baby steps that make up a handstand can be practiced incrementally as simple habits built into daily life.

If you are interested in learning more about how to practice the incremental steps of learning handstands, download your free copy of the 4-Week Guide to Mastering Fearless Handstands.

Tiny Habit Handstand Recipes

After I get out of bed in the morning, I will place both hands on the ground.

I like “place both hands on the ground” as a new behavior because it is so simple and effortless to do. It takes practically no time. It is a tiny behavior that can stand alone as a part of practicing handstands, but it can also grow into more complex movements like moving around on all fours, or actually being upside down.

After I eat breakfast, I will move around on all fours.

“Moving around on all fours” is something every toddler does but most of us as adults have forgotten. By its nature it is playful. I choose the kitchen because there is usually space in the kitchen for some more dynamic movement. This behavior, too, is a complete habit by itself, but can also grow into more complete handstands.

After I brush my teeth at night, I will imagine myself being upside down.

This habit is a good nighttime activity because it is quieter than the previous two, while still in the direction of learning to do a handstand. By imagining the activity without actually doing it, we practice the desired behavior without much of the physical limitations that might otherwise standing in the way. Additionally, imagining practice provides useful insight into the nature of our fears of being upside down.

To learn about all of the steps necessary to learn to balance a handstand, watch the videos of those incremental steps on YouTube: http://bit.ly/1uBoqQ7

How To Balance a Fearless Handstand

If you are interested in learning more about all of the pieces necessary to balance a handstand, I’ve recently published a short e-book on this topic. Using the Tiny Habits Method, I’ve been able to refine my own handstands and teach this skill to hundreds of others. Learn more at http://www.fearlesshandstands.com.