“Tummy Time!” Those mothers and fathers in my audience will know the meaning of this phrase. Tummy time is a designated time where young babies lay on their stomachs and wriggle around (often wailing in agony) as they develop the strength to lift their heads up in full “Cobra,” roll over from front to back, and do those other little feats that help build the strength needed to sit up, crawl and walk. Lucky for them, every movement they achieve is cuteness in its embodied form.
While I’ve never heard a ballroom dancer use this turn of phrase, being a mom I find that it accurately captures my experience of re-learning how to use my stomach muscles. You see, in Latin and Rhythm there is twist and torque, which require you to constantly ring yourself in opposing directions. So, when Jaki, my coach, tells me to bring “little Kacey” (my tummy muscles) into the picture, I too feel like wailing. Unfortunately for me, my every movement is not cuteness embodied and unless I have some mastery of this totally unnatural body action, my dancing won’t look so cute at all. . . . I bet she didn’t realize just how appropriate the turn of phrase “little Kacey” was when she randomly started using it one day!
Here’s the good news. Aside from the fact that learning how to twist around my spine is going to help me get the look out of my dancing that I want, tummy time has helped me shed the baby fat and get my muscles back. I have now been dancing again for a year and a half and I am 10 pounds less than my pre-pregnancy weight. I can’t say that I’ve ever been in really bad shape, but I haven’t been in this good of shape since I was a graduate student, literally rationing food to afford my next pair of suede bottom shoes. Plus, since I’m actually eating on a regular basis now, I’m probably healthier than I was back then. So, ladies, if you’re happy being a mom, but unhappy with your mom bod, practice dancing because this tummy time technique really is a win win!
-Kacey Warren, Manager and student at Ballroom & Beyond