When most people – including many parents – think about dance classes for kids they picture a row of little girls in tutus practicing at a ballet barre or tapping their way, in formation, across the room. The fact is though that dance classes are not just for young girls, as an increase in the number of boys taking dance classes demonstrates. And there are in fact a number of advantages of taking dance that any young man can benefit from. Here’s a look at three of the biggest.
Strength, Coordination, Fitness and Agility
Ask anyone who knows a little about the NFL – and that does include many young boys – and they will probably recognize the names Lynn Swann and Hershel Walker, as both men are bona fide NFL legends. What they may not know about them though is that during their careers, both men were also regulars in ballet classes, to improve their overall conditioning before game day.
Boxers Muhamad Ali and Evander Holyfield did the same. And today, New York Jets defensive tackle Steve McLendon is a 320lb threat on the field, but he has also been taking ballet and jazz dance since college, to maintain his best game shape, and has even performed with Pittsburgh Ballet.
So why did these ‘tough guys’ choose to incorporate dance into their athletic training regimes? According to McClendon, speaking to ESPN a few years ago, it’s a fantastic all around body conditioning exercise as well as a muscle and agility builder and he credits it with helping him recover from the various injuries he’s suffered over the course of his footballing career. The great Muhamad Ali said it helped him with his legendary agility and speed.
A growing number of colleges are now encouraging their athletes to take dance classes as a part of their regular training, but why wait? The earlier boys get started the more likely they are to reap the benefits of dance in their other athletic pursuits.
Self Confidence and Discipline
It is not just young girls who suffer from a lack of self-confidence, boys do too, they just don’t get to talk about it as much. Dance is a great self-confidence builder, as, if a young man can get out there and perform, either in a studio or on the stage, and do great they’ll feel like they can tackle anything. And they can.
Discipline is also at the heart of dance and the effort and focus that goes into learning a move or routine spills over into the rest of a male dancer’s life as well, both academically and personally in general.
All the Extra Benefits
Even if a young man is not overly keen on other athletics, dance still provides a great way to maintain their overall good health as they grow up. Dance offers cardiovascular benefits, is effective as a strength trainer as basic weight lifting and it’s a great way to stay in shape. There is even some research that indicates that dance helps improve brain function. Oh, and then there’s the reason NFL star Rob Gronkowski (yes, The Gronk) still thanks his Mom for taking him to dance classes when he was younger; the fact, he says, that every girl he meets thinks it’s cool that he’s a good dancer…
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