As dancers, we are both athletes and instruments. Our bodies must be strong, athletic machines held akin to Olympians. Dancer’s bodies are also our means of communication, creation, and emotional storytelling. Though ballet alone is one of the most comprehensive workouts for the body, it’s important to strength train to develop resistance to injury. On your days off from dancing, try activities that complement dance movement. This means moves that develop resistance to hip and knee strain, maintain flexibility, and reinforce lean muscle mass. The following forms of exercise complement the muscle development of a dancer and are a great way to stay in shape when studio is not in session.
Swimming is easy on the hips and knees. It’s also an excellent cardiovascular workout and helps dancers develop endurance for long performances. The shallow end of the swimming pool is a great place to run through ballet barre and focus on turnout.
Yoga does a great job at filling in the gaps in a dance education. Yoga allows the dancer to focus on breath, slowing down, and relaxing in movement in a place of no judgement. Yoga is a great practice for dancers to clear their heads and tune into their body’s internal dialogue. Use yoga to experiment with movement, center, and balance in a way you can not do in the studio. Clear your mind and meditate.
Barre based cardio classes like Physique 57, Barre Method, Pure Barre, and Barre3 have taken off in the past few years. You can find these franchised workouts all over the country. These one hour classes use dance technique from barre, ballet, and aerobics to create a hearty cardio workout. You can also find great strength training here using light resistance of elastic bands and light weights.
Pilates class focuses on developing a strong core and balanced muscle system. These classes wonderfully complement a dancer’s development by focusing on lengthening and elongating muscles.
For another cardio workout that’s easy on the knees and hips, try Beach Volleyball or any aerobic activity in the sand. The soft sand protects joints and strengthens fast-twitch muscles by adding resistance.
By Kelsey Glennon
Kelsey is a classically trained dancer and Actor’s Equity performer. She has performed for companies such as Central Florida Ballet, Tokyo Disney, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and at sea with leading luxury cruise lines. A dancer by day and a writer by night, when Kelsey is not performing she shares her love of dance, travel, and finding a good cup of coffee on her blog Wend Away Travels. Find her full performance bio and show gallery at www.kelseyannglennon.com.
Kick up your heels and let's dance!
Broadway Dance Dreams