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How She Does It - Amanda Middleton

Catherine Langman

Posted on April 26 2018

In our 'How She Does It' series we interview women about how they incorporate active and healthy habits into their lives. We believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health and fitness, so we aim to capture the variety of ways women choose to be active to give you ideas and inspiration on how to live your best active life.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Amanda Middleton, born Amanda Dick. I am 51 in May and I’m a Dance Teacher. I've been a dance teacher for over 30 years and have a dance studio in Brisbane at the Graceville Uniting Church Hall. My dance school is unlike most others, I teach all the disciplines of dance without eisteddfods and exams, and have an end of year concert which is a fun, family event. I don't like the unnecessary pressure exams and eisteddfods can put on children and I think it becomes a barrier to people wanting to dance or continue it. Dance to me is about having fun.

I’ve been married to my husband Murray for 27 years and have 3 children and one fur baby: Kate  21, Jack 19, Harry 17 and a spoodle called Levi. I love my family and my interests include anything to do with dance and taking time out for me.

What does active living mean to you?

Active living means not only keeping your body fit and healthy but also your mind – both need to be stimulated.

What do you like to do to stay active? 

I began dancing at the age of 7, so for the last 44 years I have danced or taught dancing. I still teach a miniumum of 14 hours a week at my own Dance Studio.
I like to go the the gym to do my own personalised program, get on the rowing machine or do classes – I love Body Balance as it is a mix of Ballet, Tai Chi, Pilates and Yoga. I also enjoy Pilates Reformer Machine Classes.

What is your definition of healthy?

Doing whatever is right for you and your body. A few years ago I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer, the surgeon removed my Thyroid which means my metabolism struggles. So I had the fright of my life, It was a real wake up call. It goes to show that cancer can truly happen to anyone. I work really hard on fuelling my body with the right foods to help it function. I will do anything to stay around to see my kids grow up and have their own careers and family, so fitness and healthy habits has become a major part of my life.

Have you always been active and healthy?

Yes always. I grew up on a sugar cane farm near Bundaberg so as kids we were constantly outside and then I started dancing!!

What is your daily or weekly routine? 

Monday is my big dance teaching day. I teach over 8 hours of dancing with students aged 3 - 83. Tuesday I squeeze in gym or a class. Wednesday I'll go to the gym if I can in the a.m. and then teach 5 hours of dance teaching in the p.m.
Thursdays and Friday I will try and get to the gym or more classes. Saturday is my day off usually watching my sons play sport and Sunday I always go to the gym with my husband ( he works in Sydney most weeks – so this is our time to do something together)

What daily habits keep you fit and healthy? 

Being a dance teacher definitely helps! 

What is your best active living hack? 

Music! When I hear it I can’t help myself and always have to get up and move. It gives me a strong beat, my mind starts choreographing and my feet start tapping.

Favourite healthy meal? 

I love Grilled Salmon with green salad and lemon juice.

What health craze are you guilty of loving? 

Ballet Barre – I love teaching this to my Adults because I get to do it with them, I also enjoy the stretch, and seeing them work hard and hurt (in a good way!)

What challenges do you need to overcome in order to achieve healthy and active living?

I rely on my Thyroid Medications to survive, If my levels aren’t high enough – I get extremely tired and just want to sleep. It has taken doctors 2.5 yrs to work out that I need to run higher than a normal person so my medication needs to be stronger. If you are tired all the time, it is hard to want to exercise, let alone teach dancing.
I also ruptured my ACL at the end of 2017 on a ski holiday with my family. Thank goodness no surgery is required but I have limitations now and need to be careful.

Over the past 9 years I have worked as a contract Dance Teacher at Brisbane Boys Grammar. I teach anywhere from 100 – 450 boys how to dance once a week over 5 weeks and then they perform for a presentation evening on the 6th week. This is extremely challenging for me but totally rewarding. It is easy to teach a class of kids who want to be there and who want to learn but when you have 450 boys who would rather kick a ball, it's a bit of an uphill battle to say the least. It is so much fun teaching boys who are super reluctant to dance, how great dancing actually is. By the end of the five weeks I have teenage boys coming up to me and telling me how much they loved it! I've realised that even though I am absolutely exhausted in mind and body after teaching these boys, I now know why I was put on this earth... it is to teach boys who can’t dance, to look like they can in only 5 easy lessons.

What is the best ‘side-effect’ of staying healthy and active?

Looking AND feeling good. 

What (or who) inspires and motivates you?

My young dance students. Seeing them grow and work hard as their passion for dance blossoms is why I do what I do. It's such a rewarding profession helping people welcome something fun and physical like dance into their life from a young age. I love teaching my adult tap and ballet classes, with ladies of all ages laughing and having fun , testing their memory skills, training their mind and bodies. This brings joy to my life. Dance is also where a lot of my really close friendships have formed. I am still good friends with my dance teacher - it is something that I treasure. My husband also motivates me. He makes me feel loved and special and I really enjoy our workout sessions together. 

How do you overcome negative thoughts?

I’ve always been a very competitive person, so give me a challenge and I’ll rise to it. Being the youngest of 7 children, I had to fight my way through life. Sometimes, just putting loud music on helps me to get in the mood and just go for it.

How do you practice self care? 

Listening to my body and having naps when I'm exhausted. I also like epsom salts baths to relieve aches and pains.

How do you manage days or periods where you are not as motivated?  

I’m pretty active most of the time, so I listen to my body and give myself a day off from exercise. 

What do you do to treat yourself? 

Have some chocolate!

Top 3 workout songs

Haven't stopped dancing yet - Gonzalez 

Don't stop 'til you get enough - Michael Jackson

Can't stop this feeling - Justin Timberlake 

What are your top 3 Instagram/Facebook accounts that you follow?

Active Truth, my children (spying on what they get up to) and I am a part of a Facebook group with my friends called Mountain Mummas and we all go on walks outside together - although my attendance isn't the best. 

Love Amanda as much as we do? You can connect with her via: 

Facebook: Amanda Middleton Dance School 

Love Amanda's look?

You can shop it the bronze leopard and wild meadow tights for kids and adults here, the rose tank and the black tank here.