Home > Training philosophy > New practice tip: Avoid burning out

New practice tip: Avoid burning out

Summary: Many people give up because they burn out from too high expectations that are not met by immediate results. The initial burst of enthusiasm dies out when you realise how slowly you improve in dancing. Accept the slow rate of improvement. Instead of setting yourself up for disappointment, let the dance take over your life in a slow fashion. In the beginning, just focus on practicing a little every day. Once you start seeing results, you will be motivated to have longer practice sessions. Then you may also start working on your body (stretching, cardio and weightlifting). You will not feel overwhelmed by this workload because you have experienced the benefits over a long period.

Explanation: I learned the greatest lesson in dancing from weightlift training. Let me explain. When we start physical exercise like weightlifting or cardio, we do so with great enthusiasm. We may train every day, giving it our best every time we go to a gym. But the results come slowly, far too slowly, and frustration starts to build. We train so hard, why aren’t we getting stronger quickly? Every session seems more like a burden, a waste of time even. We start to resent the whole process. Despite our guilt of sabotaging ourselves, we stop training altogether.

I went through this all-too familiar cycle not just with my weightlifting and stretching, but with my dancing, too. My high expectations could never meet up with the slow process, and I would burn out. This impatience is tragic, because there is no reason to work that hard and burn out in the beginning. Beginners in weightlifting will get stronger even if they only have light training once a week. The improvement rate is strongest at the beginning, even when we can’t easily see the improvements. In fact, training three times a week as a beginner will almost make no difference, because there is a limit to how fast one’s strength can grow. Additional training becomes necessary once one has achieved a certain level of fitness. It is better to start slow, see the benefits, then intensify your training in a gradual fashion.

I realised that this applies to dancing, too. I was overwhelmed by the difficulty of my first choreo classes and hated how long it took to start feeling comfortable. Should it take this long? Are the others learning this faster than me? Should I train harder? This only added to my stress and frustration, and I felt like quitting.

Over time, I realised that this worrying served no purpose. My dancing had improved over time, even though I hadn’t realised it while I was doing it. The more my dance improved, the more I felt like training more intensely. Dancing has altered my entire lifestyle. I continue to do weightlifting, stretching, martial arts, and eating healthy because of it. But this process took nearly three years. Had I started out training as hard as I do now, I would have given up very soon.

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