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Preparing for the 2023 Marching Band Season

(Editor's note: this article was originally published in 2020 and has been updated.)


Hey guys! It's Sam and I'm here with some hopefully important information for performers and coaches as we go into this fall season. Currently things are really uncertain. And that's okay. All we can do right now is listen to the experts and try to keep ourselves as safe as possible. And, what better thing to do than to prepare for the coming fall season from the comfort of our own homes?


Here is a list of things that you do have control over to help you be your very best for your team!


1. Keep a healthy diet.

This one goes without saying. We should ALWAYS be eating healthy, drinking lots of water, and listening to our bodies. But, with the world being as it is and so many of us are cooped up in our houses, it begins to get difficult. I find myself waking up late in the day, not eating a meal until after 1 pm, and then my last meal of the day is 30 minutes before I go to bed. Or I consider a handful of chips a meal. I'm sure you all can probably relate.


The good news is, there's plenty of easy ways to get out of this funk! The first is by drinking lots of water. I let myself have a cup of coffee after I wake up and then I drink just water until 5 or 6 pm. Staying hydrated is no joke, and it's nice to get into the habit now so you won't be tempted to reach for a soda when your body really needs water. The best part? You definitely do NOT have to brave grocery stores in order to have water on hand. If you're working from home you have more time to plan meals, or even just make the conscious decision that a snack food is not a meal. Maybe you live alone so it feels ridiculous to cook a whole meal for yourself. Use those leftovers as easy meals for later in the week when you don't have the energy to cook! Or maybe you're in high school so your parents take care of the meal prep and planning. Offer to help out in the kitchen or ask your parents to pick up some healthy snacks. I personally love a handful of cherry tomatoes or hummus and something to dip in it. Am I telling you to never snack, and only eat a vegan, gluten free diet? Absolutely not! But remember all of the physical activity you're preparing to put your body through and try to make choices that help your body succeed.


(Pictured above is a baguette with fresh mozzarella and charred tomatoes, penne with a rustic tomato sauce and vegan tofu sausage)


2. Practice

This is also a thing that seems completely obvious, but it is way too easy to let your equipment sit in the corner collecting dust. I'm going to break down my advice into two sections: indoor and outdoor.


Indoor

This one is pretty easy, I think. If you have any linoleum or hardwood floors in your house, get your dance on! Practice those pirouettes and chaines! Do your dance warm up or just practice some tendus. I prefer this kind of floor for more of my technical skills because it's easier to glide across. If your house is like mine and you have no slick surfaces (except a tiny patch by the door and in my too narrow kitchen), then maybe work smaller things and do your best on carpet or outside.

Other things you can do include working those body isolations. Have a full length mirror? Stand in front of that and watch what it looks like when you move a muscle group in a specific way. Learning what it feels like when you do different things will increase your body awareness and will hopefully make more sense when your coach tells you to do something specific. If you can get away with jumping around, do that on carpeted areas! You're less likely to slip and fall and you can practice all of those saute to roll on the ground without fear of bruising. Just make sure to wear long pants to you don't get carpet burn!

Coaches, take this time to work on the body and dance warm ups for your kids! Maybe your vets have taught your rookies so you haven't really had to look at your warm up in a while. Or maybe you're just looking for ways to improve it. This is the time to move the coffee table out of the way and relearn it yourself. When I was making videos for my students to learn from I realized it had been a while since I'd really thought about what each exercise is supposed to accomplish and I got to think through what I want my students to get out of each part. It was an eye opening experience!


Outdoor

I'm sure everyone knows how to go outside and practice. Even if you don't do anything specific, just spinning some basics is a great way to stay in shape for the fall season. Instead, let's talk about where to spin. If you have your own front or back yard, perfect! You have your own cozy little spot. But, what if you live in an apartment or your yard is flooded from the wacky weather? I personally live in an apartment so I spin in one area of our parking lot that is away from cars. There's not a ton of people coming and going so it's safer than ever for me to spin here. If you live in a very residential area without much traffic or near a cul-de-sac then it may be an option to spin there. The next option is parks. I have a small one half a mile from my house so I'll load up my equipment and walk to it to spin for a bit. If you cannot go by yourself, see if a parent will bring a book or something and sit on a park bench and supervise you.


3. Exercise

Gyms are closed, schools are closed, everything is closed. And though places are slowly beginning to reopen, do not feel pressured to go out to these places if you don't need to. There's plenty of at home options. You can go for walks around the neighborhood or go for a run. Another option that's just as good is using a fitness app! If you have a planet fitness membership, they are currently live streaming at home workouts every day and their app is full of body weight exercises you can do at home. Our personal favorite app at Spintronix is Down Dog.

This is our favorite yoga app! We cannot recommend it enough! They're not paying us to say that, it is just a genuinely fantastic app. It has a variety of difficulty levels, types of yoga, and you'll never get the same flow twice (unless you want to). Yoga is the perfect combination of stretching and working out, in my opinion. You don't need to be a Buddhist to appreciate the things yoga can do for your body. It can also help you control your breathing, which is so important for a 10 minute marching show. Breathe in and our when the narrator tells you to (it's much easier than breathing block, I promise). Right now I'm live streaming my yoga practice every Wednesday morning at 8 am on our youtube channel. Come join me! https://youtu.be/tTK0BYVX-Ck This company has another app called Barre. It is workouts based on barre and ballet. I have only recently began to use it, but I love being able to see the timer on screen, the short duration of each exercise, and the calming narrator telling you what to do. It is one of my favorite workout apps to date. 4. Be Understanding We are currently living through something that no one on earth has had to deal with before. It is an uncertain time for performers, parents, students, and teachers. There are 16 year olds who are essential and folks with pH D's who are not. We are learning to communicate as effectively as possible via technology, but it is incredibly difficult being alone. It's hard not getting to see your friends or coworkers or practice as a team. Everyone is going through something right now, so please let's be gentle with each other. If a student is just not understanding a warm up or a piece of choreography, spend some extra time telling them it's okay and helping them to the best of your ability. Maybe they've never learned from video before. If you feel like your section leader is not telling you the information you need to know or is being rude for no reason, reach out to them. Right now all we need is someone to listen and to feel like we're still connected despite the physical distance between us. We need compassion and understanding more than ever right now. Rather than tearing down a rival guard, instead like their instagram post and tell them how good they're getting. Now is the time to come together and support each other in a way that we never have before. Spinthusiasts, I hope I have helped you help yourself. I hope that these tips will prepare you for a strong fall season. --Sam

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