Northern Ireland

Alex Collins: NFL pro uses Irish dancing to keep him agile

Group of Irish dancers Image copyright John DePetro/The MMQB
Image caption Christina Deacy says that Collins' footwork has improved a lot since joining

Like most athletes American footballer Alex Collins does his own workouts in order to stay sharp and fit.

However for Collins that means on his tip toes, in an Irish dancing class filled with young women.

Christina Deacy, who teaches at the Drake School of Irish Dance in Florida, says that Collins' footwork has improved a lot since joining.

"He can now dance in time with the music and his agility and upper body strength is getting better and better."

'Real sports'

Collins was originally dismissive of the idea of Irish dancing, tweeting, "real sports are televised."

It was the daughter of his high school football coach who had enough of listening to him and convinced him to try it for himself.

"He came in and it was surprising for him how hard it was," said Christina.

"We were doing our stretches for the warm up and he had already broken into a sweat while the girls were moving around comfortably.

"We started on a reel which is quite fast and his footwork was good.

"His athletic background definitely helps him out."

Jigs and reels

Collins' training schedule is pretty hectic, but that didn't stop him attending the class three times a week and helping out at an event on St Patrick's Day.

On the field he is renowned for being the first freshman to start his career with three 100-yard performances since 2004 and holding the school record of 20 rushing touchdowns.

He was drafted by the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

In the Drake School of Irish Dance however he is not only the beginner of the group, but the only male also and has adopted the nickname "Mitchell Findley" after the famous dancer Michael Flatley.

"The girls in the class love having him around because they want to impress him, so they are motivated to work harder.

Image copyright John DePetro/The MMQB
Image caption Collins also wants to choreograph a new touchdown celebration

"They love joking with him and we hope that once people see and read about this unorthodox footballer they will be inspired to join (Irish dancing) as well."

Improving his footwork was not Collins only motivation as he also wants to choreograph a new celebration routine for when he scores his next touchdown.

Collins told an American sports' website: "Something quick and fancy, so that when the fans see, they know it is Irish dancing… but at the same time, I want to add a little jazz to it."

Christina says that she and the girls are very curious to see this celebration and how he will add an element of Irish dancing to it.

Feeling inspired? Why not have a look at our guide about how to get into dance?

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