Canada is a nation of winter and thus Canadians know how to handle the cold. That said, as the days grow shorter and temperatures start to fall, it’s always a good idea to remind yourself and your students about the best way to prevent injuries and ensure healthy and safe dancing in the winter months.
1. Be clear about your policy on winter boots and coats in the studio. If you have a special place in the hallway where they are to be kept, be sure to point it out to all your students and their parents. Mark the area clearly, if possible. You don’t want latecomers bringing wet jackets, hats and boots into your clean studio; clear communication is the best way to prevent this.
2. Take the time to review appropriate warm up gear with your students. Remind them that more layers will be needed in colder weather, and that warm-up wear will likely need to stay on for longer during winter months.
3. Many students arrive at their studios wearing dance clothes, ready to go. In the colder months, they’ll throw boots and a jacket over their leotard and tights, and run from the car into the studio and back again. Talk to your students and their parents about the importance of wearing warm up layers. Protecting muscles against the cold means less injuries and an extra layer of clothing is key for this.
4. On colder days, prepare a warm-up sequence involving floor work or aerobic activity to get the body moving and warm. If it’s possible for your students to get into the studio before class begins, encourage them to do so and start some gentle stretches before class.
5. If early access to the studio isn’t possible, prepare a gentle stretching/conditioning sequence for students to work on in the change room or at home.
6. Remind your students that a proper warm-up may take longer in the winter than it did in the summer and fall. Encourage your students to listen to their bodies and take the proper time to stretch and warm up and to remove layers, as each student feels appropriate, not just when other members of the class do.
7. Encourage high standards of sanitation in the winter. With everyone inside more often, it’s quite easy for colds and flus to spread. Be sure your studio’s washroom is fully stocked with soap and paper towels or a working hand dryer. Consider providing hand sanitizer at the entrance to your studio. Wipe down barres and other common surfaces on a routine basis.
Winter is a big part of life in Canada and brings with it many wonderful things. It’s easy to keep the body safe, healthy and active throughout the colder months with a little thought and preparation.