Unlatched — The Former Dancer’s Freedom from the Shame Coffin

4 min readMar 2, 2022


Grace grew up in the dance studio, bored her brothers with annual dance recitals, and learned everything she needed to know about discipline, hard work, respect, and perfection by the time she was 16. She took hundreds of ballet, jazz, and modern/contemporary dance classes between the ages of three and 18.

Her grit, drive, and determination enabled her to succeed outside the studio as well! She excelled in high school, later in college, and ultimately in her professional, non-dance career. In a way, now that she is an adult, she recognizes that her most significant life achievements became possible as a result of the discipline she learned as a young dancer.

Ultimately, Grace did not pursue a professional career in dance. Instead, she went to college and followed her academic training in finance; a few years later she got married and started a family. She became a Mom and a business woman, always juggling, prioritizing, delegating, solving, feeding, and comforting those who grew to depend upon her.

Occasionally (and inevitably), amidst the chaos, and despite the professional and family success, she would break down crying when she saw her weathered, naked body in the mirror. She felt ashamed that she had lost her beautiful, teenaged dancer’s body somewhere along the way… Once or twice, in a panic, she quickly grabbed her robe and hid her body as her husband’s approaching footsteps suggested he would walk in and be able to see what she saw in the mirror. She covered up just in time. This felt like a crisis averted, but it was actually another nail in the shame coffin. Not healthy.

Eventually she decided it was time, and she warned her family that she was going to make time for herself and start exercising.

Her first venture was the gym where she tried any class that remotely resembled dance. “Step touch, step touch,” the instructor screamed. She became bored and frustrated within 5 minutes. Her next ventures included every available class where the disappointing mantra was “dance is for everyone! Everyone can dance.” In 5 minutes, again, she was bored.

See, Grace is not a beginner and not a professional. She is paraprofessional dancer, who falls between those extremes; and she has unique needs. Her previous ballet, jazz, and modern/contemporary dance training have raised the barre, so to speak, on what she needs in a class. Her family and her job limit the amount of time she has available for classes. Her age and her body condition require daily cardio and toning, making traditional, biweekly adult ballet classes only minimally effective for her. Her emotional relationship to dance requires her to find a judgment-free, emotionally safe community of adult dancers where she can start dancing again without embarrassment and then continue training on a regular basis as she rediscovers the dancer within her.

A class that exceeds the expectations of a paraprofessional dancer is extremely rare…

Welcome to The Dancer’s Workout®, the exhilarating adult dance fitness class for paraprofessional ballet, jazz, and contemporary dancers.

If you are a paraprofessional dancer (either current or former dancer), you’ll quickly see that The Dancer’s Workout® caters to your unique and wonderful needs with our invigorating in-person classes, live virtual classes, and online (pre-recorded) classes that are available 24/7.

Like Grace, you will discover how with The Dancer’s Workout® it is much easier to safely recondition your body and spirit back into dancer’s shape than you ever imagined. You’ll see that The Dancer’s Workout® is designed to inspire you as both a dancer and a woman, while our classes quickly become both your answer and your sanctuary.

And the next time your husband walks in unexpectedly… Girl, you won’t need that robe.


Are you a current dancer? Join our free daily class!

Been a while since you danced? Grab our 21-Day DANCER RESTARTER WIZARD and gain access to our LOST LOVE RECOVERY PROGRAM FOR FORMER DANCERS!

DSOs — Interested in bringing The Dancer’s Workout® to your studio? Check this out.

Teachers — Interested in becoming certified to teach The Dancer’s Workout®? Check this out.


Jules Szabo, founder of The Dancer’s Workout® (TDW) is a classically trained ballerina from the UNC School of the Arts and former corporate executive who helps busy working women, mothers, and empty nesters rediscover their love of dance. She specializes in the paraprofessional dancer (adult ballet, jazz, and contemporary dancers who are not beginners and not professionals, who simply love dance over other forms of exercise). Featured in Dance Magazine as one of the best dance programs online, The Dancer’s Workout® classes were designed to provide former dancers an emotionally and physically safe path back to dance and to help current adult dancers and dance instructors achieve their daily fitness goals through dance. If you are a current or former dancer, you are invited to come dance with us.




Jules is a classical ballerina and former corporate executive who helps adult dancers achieve their daily fitness goals through dance www.thedancersworkout.com