[If I ever need any encouragement, inspiration, advice, support, or simply to share a laugh with, I turn to this amazing woman, Natalie Tabony! She is not only an insanely gorgeous dancer with an incredible singing voice, but also has the business savvy and determination to create her own career that allows others to become healthy and smart with their own lives. If you want to know why things haven’t been working out for you or your just aren’t reaching your goals… READ ON!!! You won’t want to miss this important information that can set you up for success in your career, your health, and your happiness! And definitely take a moment to fill out the Health Assessment below… Knowing where you truly stand is the first step!]
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT WWW.NATALIE123.ZUMBA.COM OR WWW.NATALIETABONY.USANA.COM
Hey! My name is Natalie Tabony. I’m a dancer and personal trainer from London, England and I am delighted to be sharing this post with you. I have been dancing and performing for as long as I can remember. Over 25 years, and for 14 of them I’ve been in the fitness and wellness industry with the latest 7 years focusing on nutrition.
HOW DID YOU START DANCING?
My sister and I were walking past the church hall at the end of my road and heard music so we begged our Mum to let us go in. As soon as we saw the class skipping around the room we were hooked. A few years later, aged 7 and 8 dancing at the London Palladium, we had decided this was our future.
WHAT IS YOUR DANCE TRAINING AND PERFORMANCE BACKGROUND? AND WHAT IS YOUR HEALTH AND FITNESS BACKGROUND?
Growing up in London we were very lucky to have so many opportunities to perform and by the time I went to dance college had performed in many London theaters already. Being here also meant that we were exposed to a plethora of dance styles from countless teachers. I studied ballet, jazz, tap, national, and imperial Greek at my local dance school which as you can imagine cost a small fortune for my parents especially as I have three sisters that dance. However, the Royal Academy of Dance offered a program for professional dancers becoming teachers and they needed class participants to practice, this was free and they even paid our travel. Any money we were paid for pantomimes, for example, we used in order to attend workshops with people like Wayne Sleep and Derek Hartly. I guess this is where I started learning the value of reinvesting! It wasn’t until I did my A Levels that I was exposed to Contemporary dance. There I studied Graham, Cunningham, Limone, and Release, it was studying these legends and techniques I saw the potential for every dancer to influence the Art. I love contemporary but after long deliberation decided to study Musical Theatre at Bird College for my BA(Hons) Degree. Having such a varied training has led me to very different jobs from cabaret to touring musicals to performing in shows through Europe to choreographing music videos. This involved going from contract to contract and inevitable periods of drought back in the auditioning game. Thankfully I had found another passion early on and that was for fitness. This may sound strange but at 16 when I first qualified as a Group Fitness instructor the two did not go hand in hand. At this time you either did one or the other, there were so many myths about exercise and many dancers including myself were discouraged from any sort of cross training. Things have changed since then and even as a public our understanding of anatomy and physiology is far greater. In this day and age most people have a gym membership or participate in some sort of regular exercise and dancers recognize the need to work on aerobic fitness and muscular strength as well as muscular endurance and flexibility. They and the general public are also realizing the key role the right nutrition plays in health and wellness, something I am incredibly passionate about.
WHAT KEEPS YOU INSPIRED?
I actually think the thing that inspires me most is what I said about influence. The knowing that every single time you dance affects the art of dance. It is what separates dance from sport, actually. Dancers can get stuck in the zone of competition but dance is art so it is subjective, remembering that in is an ever evolving art form is important, perhaps it isn’t said enough but every dancer counts.
WHAT ARE THE TOP 5 THINGS YOU SEE DANCERS, OR PEOPLE IN GENERAL, MISUNDERSTANDING ABOUT FITNESS OR MYTHS THEY ARE BUYING INTO? WHAT SHOULD THEY BE DOING INSTEAD?
One of the first myths I would love to clear up for dancers, specifically female dancers, is the ‘if I do weights/resistance work in the gym I will get bulky.’ This is highly improbable and virtually impossible without serious intention to do so (by this I mean hours and hours in the gym a day and huge nutritional changes) as the female body does not produce the levels of testosterone and growth hormone needed to increase muscle mass in this way. One of the biggest benefits to a dancer of strength training is the reducing risk of injury. It is also useful to note it can help in weight management as muscle cells are more efficient at using energy than fat cells. This previous myth is sometimes coupled with ‘I will lose my flexibility’, this is backward in fact in you perform strength exercise through the full range of motion you can increase flexibility. I must however interject a personal opinion, before adding any weights to exercises such as squats dancers should check that they are performing them correctly. The higher than average level of flexibility in dancers spines coupled with the centre of weight usually being pitched forward and having tighter than average calf muscles needs to be considered to avoid unnecessary injury.
‘Dancers are so fit, they could run a marathon’. Unfortunately this is not the case, of course if you trained for it anyone could complete a marathon but the fact is most dancers are aerobically unfit. Dance is primarily an anaerobic activity, meaning it is more like a sprint, if you think about it most exercises in the class are no more than a minute long. I recommend that dancers do some sort of cross training to improve their aerobic fitness because of the increased functional lung capacity during exercise and rest; this would help improve allegro for sure. This leads me to ‘you dance all the time you must lose so much weight’. As I mentioned dance is not aerobic and although you may dance for a couple of hours it is very different to jogging for that same length of time. This doesn’t mean everyone go out and run, indeed when it comes to dancers who already put enormous amount of demand of their joints I would recommend water based aerobic exercise instead.
Let me expand on dancers and weight maintenance, I could be here for hours as this is one of my greatest passions. Dance is unlike other sports. In the majority of other sports athletes view food as fuel and the importance of getting enough nutrients is never overlooked. Dance differs because of the challenge of the catch 22 presented to all dancers, namely the aesthetic demands of the art encourage a streamline look yet the quantity of exercise requires a higher caloric intake. As I previously mentioned with dance being primarily an anaerobic activity it doesn’t necessary encourage fat loss. I truly believe that the low levels of food intake contributes more largely to the ill health and injury of dancers than is recognised. In fact even when dancers’ food intakes are not in a deficit the levels of nutrients from our foods in the modern age do not provide the adequate let alone optimal levels of nutrients to combat the levels of free radical damage happening to the body’s cells. Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells; there are ten thousand times more cells in the average human body than people on this planet. Cells continually regenerate, within weeks our skin cells regenerate, months our brain cells and within two to ten years depending on our age we have an entirely new skeletal system. Simply put unhealthy cells regenerating leads to ill health, healthy cells regenerating results in good health. This leads me on to the next myth ‘dancers don’t need to supplement’. As I alluded to above as dancers we are not always educated about the nutritional needs of the body’s cells, it is essential that we realise the demands we put on our
body. In other sports there are on and off seasons, in dance unfortunately this is never the case, for the most part dancers continually push day after day month after month year after year until the body responds by saying it can no longer do it. For this reason all dancers should be supplementing but before you rush out to your local health food store or start trawling search engines there are a few of things to consider. One, all supplements are not created equal, most fall far short of meeting the needs of the body namely because they are made to food grade not pharmaceutical grade, the difference between these is vast. Two, seek independent advice as many companies advertise well, The Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements is a useful resource. Lastly, supplements are exactly that, to supplement a good diet, they are not a ‘cure all’ and they are not to replace a nutrient rich healthy diet.
The ‘healthy diet’ is something else the needs addressing not just for dancers but for everyone. It isn’t lack of education that leads to poor food choices; sometimes it is a lack of good options. The reasons these can be limited include financial, time, or availability. For example most people know that the latest research suggests we need between 9-13 servings of organic fruit and vegetables daily but finances may dictate that people buy what is on offer at the local supermarket. Or for example with the best of intensions cooking from fresh for all meals and snacks is too time consuming, and for dancers the worry about having time for this to digest is also an issue. As for availability, we can be limited to what is the canteen where we work or study, or the nearest shop, or if on the road what is at the fuel stations. I recently wrote a blog on simple choices. I thought it best to guide you there otherwise I might never get on to the next question!
CAN YOU TELL ME HOW YOU GOT STARTED WITH USANA, WHAT IT IS, AND HOW YOU’BE SEEN IT HELP CHANGE PEOPLE’S LIVES?
It was actually as a result of what I talked about above, without knowing I was looking for an answer to these problems it was like a gift that fell in my lap. One of my sisters was an athlete, as such was meticulous about what went in her body. When she came to me to tell me she had aligned herself with a cellular research company that manufacture nutritional systems I knew the calibre of the product must be second to none. Researching further into the company I found the credibility of the company and the integrity of the products to be just that, and found that they offer an athlete guarantee as well as a potency guarantee on all their products. For me the products were an immediate fit, I saw the supplement line as a way I could extend my career and recover quicker from injuries, and the healthy foods line a way that I could ensure I was giving my body low GI foods that were nutritionally balanced. This is why I recommend USANA to all my students, class participants, and personal training clients and of course to the people closest to me. My Mum is just one example of a transformation I’ve seen she dropped 5 dress sizes and lost 70 pound but most importantly has kept that weight off for more than six years. On a personal level after a long break from dancing when I retrained in my late twenties I was fitter than I was when I went to dance college in my late teens. The reason I chose to partner with USANA was to share the products and my knowledge with more people. Our mission is to help one person and one family at a time so I urge anyone and everyone to fill in the free health assessment for some guidance. CLICK HERE TO GET STARTED!
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT STOP PEOPLE FROM ACHIEVING SUCCESS IN THEIR HEALTH, THEIR CAREERS, AND THEIR DREAMS?
Support. Without support our inner voices can put pay to any level of achievement. There is an innate need for achievement but unfortunately as Maslows hierarchy of need recognizes the need for belonging comes before that of self esteem and self recognition. I suppose it is that wanting to fit in that limits people, if only they could tap into their greatness and realise their potential they would amaze themselves and others. I think it’s the saddest thing to see people treating their dreams like the awkward piece of ironing that gets left at the bottom of the basket. I also don’t think its something we get taught certainly I didn’t get taught to dream in the UK education system, in fact what I remember from school was any notion of being a dreamer I had was looked upon negatively. For creative people to be allowed and encouraged to dream is what will move art forms forward, it is why its imperative that we do this for each other. When you are striving towards a goal with others be it health, career, or a creative dream having that common purpose helps the magic happen faster, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’
WHAT IS SOME ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE TO OTHERS ABOUT STAYING FOCUSED AND NOT GIVING UP?
My advice for staying focused is deciding what you want yes but then determining why you want it, once you know why you want to achieve something that will become your driving force. There are so many incredible authors on the subject of personal development, by continually developing in this area you will continue to grow. Some people call these ‘self help books’, I personally am not a fan of that wording, and I think the term ‘self advancement book’ would be far more accurate. ‘Self help’ to me suggests ‘victim’ but the term itself has been given by the real victims i.e. those who won’t read such books. People open to reading these books have actually chosen the path less travelled and that is to refuse to be a victim and involve themselves in the culture of blame. It is essential for everyone to read ‘self advancement’ or ‘personal development material on a daily basis and feeding the brain with good information and affirmation. I’m not talking about chanting phrases, spinning on the spot 7 times, and kissing your mirror hoping things will change. I’m simply saying you have to put good in to get good out.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE OR ADD?
Clearly I could talk for days on this but in summary let us review the definition of insanity ‘doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result’, if you keep doing what you are doing you’ll keep getting what you are getting. If not now then when? When will you do something different, because if nothing changes then guess what? Nothing changes!
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT WWW.NATALIE123.ZUMBA.COM OR WWW.NATALIETABONY.USANA.COM