Friday, September 30, 2016

Warm-Up to Avoid Breaking Down

The Warm-up: sit-ups, stretching, movement across the floor...You know it well. Over the course of the season, the warm-up may even start to become familiar or routine - but do not estimate its importance. In essence, these first few moments of class can spell the difference between growth and painful injury.

The primary goal of a warm-up is to create heat in the muscles - a process that, ultimately, prevents injuryWhen the muscles are heated, they become more pliable and elastic so that they can stretch safely without pulling or tearing.

Before diving into any rigorous physical activity, consider these key tips for a successful warm-up: 

Gear Up

At the very start of class, don’t rush out of your sweats. Help foster heat in your muscles by wearing extra layers of clothing. Choose long sleeves, pants, leg warmers or socks to begin. Once you begin to feel heated, remove the layers as necessary. 

Mix in Cardio

Don’t limit your warm-up to static stretching alone. Aerobic exercises are another excellent way to warm the muscles. Be sure to include aerobic cardio moves such as jumping jacks and high-knees to prepare your muscles for vigorous movement. 

Be Strategic

While it is important to warm the entire body before full out movement, some areas may require extra attention. Part of being a strategic dancer is knowing which areas to target more than others. If the hamstrings feel tighter than usual, spend a little extra time stretching them to make sure they are fully prepared.

Listen to Your Body

Above all else, listen to your body. If you sense pain, stop, assess and regroup. Never push your muscles further than they are willing to go. Flexibility will increase with time and consistency

The next time you warm-up, apply these tips as part of your safe dance practices. Be kind to your body and it will surely reward you in return. #BeTheInSpiration

Pauline Braxton
Community Outreach Coordinator

Friday, June 3, 2016

ipaccblog#7: The Power of Mentorship

Looking for ways to step up your performance? Here’s some advice: find a mentor! Having a trustworthy mentor in your corner is an invaluable tool in accomplishing your goals and taking your talent to new heights.

What is a Mentor?
A mentor is someone that you can go to for advice. Experience has made them wise -within them lays a wealth of knowledge, just waiting to be tapped into!  Mentors give you the “inside scoop” on what to expect on your journey because they’ve been in your shoes before.

The Benefit
The major benefit of mentorship is that it can help you manage the inevitable challenges that are to come. No journey worth embarking on is ever easy. But a mentor that is honest and vulnerable about their experiences can help you avoid making the same mistakes they made on their own journey.

Even more so, sometimes a mentor can be just the listening ear you need when you’re having a hard time. Open up! Share your success stories, your failures, your worries…let your mentor guide you in the right direction.

How to Identify One
We’ve already identified three keys characteristics of a mentor: trustworthiness, wisdom and experience. The last component to consider is time. Developing a successful mentor/mentee relationship requires continued collaboration over time. So choose someone who is willing to invest their spare time into seeing you grow as an artist.

As you strive to accomplish your dance and music goals, don't go at it alone! Find that mentor in your life that will be there with you every step of the way. #BeTheInSpiration
Pauline Braxton

Community Outreach Coordinator

Friday, May 20, 2016

ipaccblog#6: Sip Your Way to Optimal Performance

For the active dancer, it can sometimes be a challenge to find the right sources of nutrition at the times that you need it. These delicious smoothie recipes give you the satisfying taste you crave and provide a powerful nutritional punch at the times you need it most. Whether you’re looking for an energy pick-me-up, for muscle-building protein, or for relief from soreness, there’s a smoothie for every occasion!

For Muscle Recovery…

Get-Ahead Gingerbread

7 oz 2% Greek yogurt
1 c ice cubes
¼ c frozen sliced banana
2 Tbsp almond butter
1 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp grated ginger
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg and cardamom

Nutritional Punch: Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein that helps rebuild muscle. The banana replaces potassium and carbohydrates lost during exercise. Molasses is a great source of iron, a nutrient that helps to oxygenate the blood.

For Stamina….
Cran-Beet Crusher

1 c silken tofu
½ c fresh or frozen cranberries
½ medium beet
½ medium cucumber
1 celery stalk
1 c kale
1 orange or half cup orange juice
2 tsp honey

Nutritional Punch: Beets have been shown to improve blood flow and stamina, perfect if you find yourself getting winded in class.  As an added bonus, kale has heart disease and cancer-fighting powers.

For Soreness…

Cherry-Chia Pain Buster

1 c pitted tart cherries
½ c blueberries (or berry blend)
½ c frozen pineapple chunks
1 scoop vegan protein powder
1c chilled brewed green tea or diluted cherry juice
½ inch chunk ginger root or ¼ tsp powdered ginger
½ inch chunk turmeric root or ¼ tsp powdered turmeric
2 tsp raw honey

Nutritional Punch: Tart cherries have been shown to alleviate soreness and repair muscle damage. The turmeric also helps to ease muscle soreness by acting as an anti-inflammatory.

Be sure to stay cool this summer with these delicious smoothies and sip your way to your optimal physical performance!

These smoothie recipes and their complete nutritional compositions can be found at

Pauline Braxton
Community Outreach Coordinator

Friday, May 13, 2016

ipaccblog#5: Celebrating InSpira’s 14th Anniversary!

Can you believe this Saturday, May 14, 2016, marks the 14th year that InSpira has been in business? That’s right, 14 years of incredible Performing Arts education! 

As we celebrate InSpira's Anniversary, let’s take a look back at the history of how it all started…

Co-Founder and Artistic Director Kristine Smith first had the vision for InSpira after a major health scare in 1991, when she received the troubling news of the existence of a tumor in her brain. Prior to InSpira, Ms. Kris worked in the Magazine and Nonprofit Industries with a focus on Performing Arts and Fitness, for 9 years. After receiving Pituitary Brain Surgery in 1993, she felt overwhelmed with gratitude to God for allowing her to live and decided to take her life in a new direction.

With a new vigor for life, Ms. Kris decided to go into business for herself, with one main goal in mind – to make a positive impact on the lives of others. As a long-time dancer herself, Ms. Kris knew first-hand the power of the arts to influence lives in the community. Thus, InSpira was born.

IPACC, formerly known as InSpira Dance Theater, had its humble beginnings in 2002 with just 14 students in the basement of Mt. Zion AME Church in Little Rocky Hill, NJ.  In 2005, InSpira moved to its first commercial location in New Brunswick, NJ. This year also marked the start of the Academy and Scholarship programs – programs designed to recognize and foster dance excellence and educational achievements. In the year 2007, the InSpira community continued to grow as the studio moved to it's current location and expanded to include music and voice education. 

Over the years, InSpira has become a safe haven for more than 300 students. It has blossomed into a hub for students to not only foster their dance and music abilities, but to be engaged in a supportive and loving family atmosphere. Without a doubt, to be at InSpira is to be home.

Happy 14th Anniversary, InSpira! #BeTheInSpiration

What are some of the reasons you are thankful for InSpira? Comment below.

Pauline Braxton
Community Outreach Coordinator

Friday, May 6, 2016

ipaccblog#4: InSpira Moms - Thank You

She carpools you and your friends back and forth to classes all season long. She forces you to rehearse your piano solo one last time before bed. And she knows all the right things to say to encourage you just when you feel like giving up.

Yes, InSpira Mothers are truly one-of-a-kind.

This Mother’s Day, we’d like to celebrate all the phenomenal mothers of our InSpira family by acknowledging what makes them so incredible.

Our InSpira Mothers are…
InSpira Moms are notorious for being highly involved at the studio! They show their support at studio functions and events as often as they can. You can also find them up onstage at the recitals, as they are no strangers to taking classes themselves! Our moms are active learners in our adult classes, studying various types of dance. It’s true, when it comes to their child’s dance and music education, the InSpira Mom does not take a backseat.

The InSpira Mom is not solely concerned about the health and well being of her own children, but rather she also extends herself in service to other students in need as well. Backstage at recitals you can find her helping another student pin a hairpiece into place, or bringing in snacks for the students to share. InSpira Mothers are key contributors to our community, always willing to uplift the team.

Our mothers know all the best ways to stay connected with happenings at InSpira. They wield the powers of the Internet and social media to stay on top of all the latest announcements and news releases. They are not afraid to share a picture or two on Facebook, or hashtag #InSpira to spread the news and show their studio pride.

Above all else, the InSpira Mother is selflessly devoted to the success of her children. She optimizes every opportunity at InSpira to nurture her child’s growth and development.

InSpira Moms, we’d like to send a special Thank You for all you do. Your selflessness and devotion is an inspiration to us all. We appreciate you. And we love you. Happy Mother’s Day! #BeTheInSpiration

Leave a comment and share your thoughts or favorite memory of an outstanding InSpira Mom!

Pauline Braxton
Community Outreach Coordinator

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ipaccblog#3: Healthy Snacking On the Run

 School – Homework – Afterschool Activities – Bed – Repeat.

As a student, you know what it’s like to live a busy lifestyle. Sometimes, the rush from place to place can leave little time to grab a healthy snack in between– making us vulnerable to the tempting calls of our favorite fast food places. To help combat the urge to grab unhealthy foods in a rush, here are some healthy, portable snack ideas to keep you fueled and satisfied throughout the day.

When looking for a snack to give you the nutrients and energy you need to make it through your busy class and rehearsal schedule, look for these three things:
¨     Lean protein - repairs and builds muscles
¨     Healthy fat - for muscle recovery
¨     Complex carbohydrate – provides fiber and energy

Unlike their fast food counterparts, foods with these components won’t slow you down or make you feel tired during the day. Try packing some of these snacks to go:

To-Go Wrap
-Canned tuna
- Plain 2% Greek yogurt
-Chopped celery
-Whole grain wrap
-Hard-boiled egg

-Plain 2% Greek yogurt
-Whole grain wrap

Homemade Trail Mix
-Raw or roasted nuts such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
-Dried cranberries, apricots, mango and pineapple
-A sprinkle of dark chocolate chips - dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants and can help reduce blood pressure!

Nut Butter Sandwiches
-Natural almond butter
-Banana slices
-Ezekiel bread – this health bread is full of protein and amino acids, crucial for muscle repair.
-Natural peanut butter
-Apple slices
-Ezekiel bread

Fresh Veggies and Hummus
-Carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and celery
-Your favorite hummus

Prepare these healthy snacks at the start of the week so that they will be easily accessible to grab on your way out in the mornings during the week. Keep the 3-part formula of lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbs in mind when snacking and you’ll be energized and fueled for the busy show season ahead! #BeTheInSpiration

Pauline Braxton
Community Outreach Coordinator

Friday, April 22, 2016

ipaccblog#2: Hit Your Target

We’ve all been there – set goals for ourselves only for them to sit on the back burners of our daily activities. It’s true: setting and managing goals can be challenging. But with these helpful guidelines, you’ll be sure to achieve those long-desired dance and music goals.

Make Visuals
Visually depicting your goal can be an extremely valuable tool in seeing it through to the end. Write your goal down on something that you see every day and use it as a daily reminder of your plans. Record it in your planner, on your bulletin board or on a sign that hangs over your bedroom mirror. For extra motivation, get creative by adding eye-catching color and design.

Set a Reasonable Time Frame
Be sure to set a deadline for accomplishing your goal. When doing so, give yourself enough time to accomplish it. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day! This is one of the best methods to ensure concrete results. Also, consider setting up a few checkpoints along the way where you can track your progress and reward yourself. Acknowledging your hard work during the journey is a great way to stay encouraged as you march towards that end goal.

Tell Someone
Share your plans with a friend, a family member or a mentor who will hold you responsible for completing your goals. Find someone who will encourage you in those challenging moments when you’re running out of steam or feel like giving up.

Be Diligent
Lastly, the key to accomplishing your goals is to be consistent with the plan you’ve designed. Pursue your goals daily, deciding for yourself that you want them badly enough to follow through to the end.

Remember: With persistence and hard work, there is nothing outside of your reach. Stay motivated and hit your target! #BeTheInSpiration

Pauline Braxton
Community Outreach Coordinator