Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Best Class of Your Life

Tomorrow will be the best class I've ever taken!

How do I know?

It always is... and it should be for you too!

Because that's the decision I make on my drive to most classes. "This is my favorite class," and/or "This will be my best class" is what I'm saying to myself as I'm getting out of my car, grabbing my gym bag. Many times I say it out loud before getting out of the car or during my drive.

You should consider the same. Once you've decided to go to class, put 100% effort into doing your best, and purposely set your attitude in a positive direction. Nobody is forcing you or me to take classes; we choose to be there, so why not have a good attitude about it?

I'm always sliding back and forth between the teacher and student roles. I teach some days, cross-train other dances when I'm not teaching.

When I take some classes, I'm sometimes the least skilled dancer during some parts of the class. Not a real ego booster unless I stay focused on me. That goes with the territory of starting dance in my 40's and taking classes in dances that are outside my strengths.

When we're doing ab work, balance, stretching or other conditioning, I may not be the best in the class, but I'm working toward 100% of my ability, trying to best my previous efforts. My mindset is, "Nobody is going to outwork me," especially on body weight conditioning, where I'm competing directly with myself.

Others may do it better than you today, but you'll consistently close the gap by working toward your maximum AND setting the right attitude toward growth.

Does that work 100% of the time? Of course not!

Some days are better than others, and I still have those occasional moments where I wonder what I was thinking when I started. Nothing works all the time, but when my attitude is right, I do much better than on those days where I'm down on myself. You never want to start a class with the "I'm a loser" or "I can't do this..." attitude.

A great attitude won't overcome lack of practice or ignorance of the fundamentals, but a stronger attitude makes everything easier, even if "easier" doesn't mean "easy". (There's a big difference between those words!)

Who really cares how you measure against the others today? In my case, 95% of the people in classes started way down the road from me. If you and I continue and work toward constant refinements, we'll pass most people, except the others on the same continuous improvement road.

Once you make the decision to go, don't waste time on what you can't do or how you compare to the others in the room, but instead focus on what you can improve, compared to your last class.

Make up your mind that "today will be the best class of my life" and say it every time you go. Over time you'll be amazed at the results. It works for me. Please let me know what you're doing to keep your attitude growing in a positive direction.
Inside the ring or out, ain't nothing wrong with going down.
It's staying down that's wrong.
--Muhammad Ali
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Originally published Feb 2009 and has some minor revisions.


  1. Great article, Don. I think I'll apply this philosophy to social dancing in the form of "Tonights dances will be the best I've ever led".

  2. No one can really argue with this advice when walking through the door. I've been dancing a long time. Making sure my partner has a good time is a priority with me. Reality sets in, during the class, when my partner gets frustrated with my having difficultly with, lets say, a particular pattern. So while I am responsible for my attitude there is still the unknown influence of my partner's attitude. It is not enough to boost your own attitude. You also need to be committed to helping others and having a little patience. Going to a class doesn't mean you are dancing solo.

    1. Marty,

      Great point! In a partner class your attitude has an impact on your partners too. While we can't control our partners attitudes, we can take responsibility for our own.

      Note that many in my audience also take classes in other dances like jazz, hip-hop or ballet so those classes are about working on yourself most of the time.

      Even in those classes a good attitude has a positive effect on others. Your point is well taken.


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Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero