As Summer approaches, many Dancers will embrace a much needed three or four month layoff. Some will vacation, some will continue to obsessively take class day after day. The smart Dancer Cross Trains. To continue Dancing with the intensity you had during the season is like beating a dead horse. Our bodies need time off in order to make important gains and improvements. Yes, you can actually improve by taking some time off!
Here is the Cross Training Plan that I recommend;
Right after the Performance Season is over, take at least 2 weeks off! Upon returning to class, this will give you a clear signal as to what “pains” are actual injuries and which were just symptoms of overuse. During that first class back (typically after a 2 to 6 week break) take note of certain areas and muscle groups in the body that feel weak. If you feel that you have a serious injury this is a great time to see a Doctor, get an MRI, and get it fixed in time for the season to start.
After taking note of those weak areas, consult a Ballet Strength Expert such as myself for Dance Specific exercises that you can do in the gym. On Ballet Dancers, for example, the “turn-in” or legs in a parallel stance is usually weak. I would then recommend some basic strength training techniques involving one-leg squats and exercises on the Bosu. Dancers also tend to favor one side of the body. This is a great time to strengthen your weak side!
As far as taking class goes, I recommend no more than 3 days per week during your time off. The other 2 days should be dedicated to your Cross Training program!
Feeling out of breath during that variation? Don’t forget about cardio. What better time than Summer to go for a run, hike, or bike ride in your favorite park. You may be surprised at how much better you feel and how much more you are able to do pain free!
How do I Cross Train? To ensure that my trouble areas stay injury free, I take class only twice per week during the off season and weight train three times per week. I also focus on keeping my core strong with lots of unique abdominal exercises. For Cardio, I do chasse’s on the treadmill, front and side!
Still confused? I have taken all of the guess work out of it with my new book, Beginning Ballet Strength©. You can get your own copy at www.balletstrength.com!
Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer/ Certified Personal Trainer/ Author/ Certified Nutritionist
You may not realize this, but Ballet Dancers have some of the most unhealthy dietary and lifestyle habits. These bad habits effect dancers from daily class all the way to auditions. We’ve all read the famous Ballerina’s books like Gelsey Kirkland’s Dancing on my Grave and hopefully have learned a lot from their mistakes.
What can you do to improve your health so that you can reach peak performance? Follow a few of these simple guidelines to boost your energy in everyday class all the way to performance time.
1.) Don’t skip out on Breakfast– After 8 or more hours of fasting overnight, your body desperately needs food fuel in the morning. Make sure you are eating a balanced breakfast before heading out to class in the morning.
2.) Stay Hydrated– I cannot stress this enough. If you are not drinking water or an electrolyte enriched beverage before and during class, your strength will suffer.
3.) Eat– The skinny, emaciated look is so 1970. Artistic Directors are looking for strong bodies these days.
4.) Soak and Stroke– A hot bath at the end of a long day of rehearsing is just what your body needs to relax and prepare for tomorrow.
5.) Take a day off– Sometimes you need a mental day of rest. On your days off, participate in functions or activites that do not involve dancing. You will feel a lot fresher when the work week begins again.
I hope you have enjoyed these 5 healthy tips for Ballet Dancers! If you’re feeling a little low on energy, chances are you are missing one of the above components.
Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer, Author of The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide