Blog Archives

Strength Training for Dancers

Here is a video of me performing some of the strength training techniques I use for Ballet Cross Training in the off-season.

You will notice some simple ballet moves taken up a notch. I do a lot of work in the parallel for strength and stability in my hips, knees and ankles. I also do lots of Plyometrics like the “Plie jump squats” that are shown in the video.

Please, don’t try this at home, and be sure to visit www.balletstrength.com for details on how you can gain Ballet Strength!

**By the way, my book, Beginning Ballet Strength is now available at www.balletstrength.com!

See you in the gym,

Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer, ISSA CPT/SPN

Effects of the Recession on the Dance Community

It’s all you hear about in the news, and it has effected the Dance Community.

It is hard to stay optimistic when you hear about companies such as New York City Ballet cutting as many as 11 dancers from their rosters. If NYCB, a company who I would consider top notch, is having financial issues, imagine how the small regional Dance Companies are struggling. (link to article)

Sarcamento Ballet cancelled the rest of it’s season. (link to article)

Even worse yet, no companies are hiring for the 2009-2010 season discouraging potential professional dancers from persuing their talents.

What do you do when this happens to you? How do you survive when you are laid off and have no place to dance? I have experienced this first hand as the company that I dance for had to cancel it’s February show of Coppelia due to lack of ticket sales. Instead of complaining about something I couldn’t control, I decided that I needed to do what was in my best interest.

You can look at these periods of layoff as blessings in disguise. Come on, you know you can’t dance forever, so this is the perfect opportunity to discover your other talents. Take this time off to enroll in a college class, pass on your knowledge by teaching dance, or think about heading off to a new company.

I have taken this wonderful opportunity to continue to develop my Personal Training business. Over the two months that I have been laid off from ballet, I have been able to sign on 10 new clients, create videos, and work on my marketing campaigns.

Be proactive. Don’t let these hard economic times get you down! Develop your other interests and begin paving a path to your career transition after dance.

-Nikol Klein, ISSA CPT/SPN and Professional Ballet Dancer

Learn More at www.nikolklein.com

Ballet Dancers and Ankle Injuries

A sickled foot...an ankle sprain ready to happen.

A sickled foot...an ankle sprain ready to happen.

In class day after day I watch my young co-worker Professional Dancers forcing turn-out and rolling in on their ankles. I have watched ankle sprains put dancers out for entire  seasons. How many times have you had a teacher try to force your body to do something that you know is just not genetically possible?

The most common types of injuries in Ballet Dancers are in the ankle area. Almost all of these injuries are caused by weaknesses or faulty technique. Forcing turn-out is just one example of poor technique that is sometimes encouraged by Russian ballet instructors. The fact is that most ballet instructors have not studied the human anatomy and biomechanics enough, and simply teach based on what worked for them. The truth is that we’re not all the same and it is not possible to clone dancers.

Without proper form and core strength, it is easy to sit into the calves and ankles to take on the whole weight of the body en pointe. Weak glutes or over-flexible hamstrings can sometimes lead to unstable ankles due to gripping of the calves. What happens when the calves are overused? They tighten up, they feel like rocks, they won’t stretch out. And when the calves lock up, you lose mobility in your foot and ankle.

When calves get tight or tired out after a long variation or pas de deux, some dancers think it is weak calves that are causing the problem. They proceed to do more releves, but never address the real problem. Are you pulling up in your legs when you do releves? Do you feel the releve in the upper hamstring, or are you sitting into the calves?

This is where I have my Professional Dancer clients try a few simple exercises on the Smith Machine  to test their hamstring/glute strength. If they are feeling the exercises mostly in their quadriceps, which you don’t want, I know that there is a lot of work to be done. I will then test the dancers balance on the Bosu Ball or Balance Board standing on one leg.

Whether you are an injured dancer or a healthy one looking to test your strengths and weaknesses,  contact a personal trainer exerpienced in working with dancers. Give yourself the confidence you need to maintain a healthy and long career!

-Nikol Klein, CPT, Professional Ballet Dancer

www.nikolklein.com

Dancer Rehabilitation and Maintenance

NYCB Dancer getting rehab on an injured foot.

NYCB Dancer getting rehab on an injured foot.

What are you doing to ensure that your body is in top form every morning when you step into the studio?

There are many factors that contribute to injuries in dancers that could have easily been prevented. Muscle fatigue, lack of proper rest and recovery are essential to keep your body in top form. Here are a few simple maintenance routines to get you on the right track.

Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Without proper rest your body will not have proper time to recover from the day before. Plus you won’t be alert in class and rehearsal making it hard not only on yourself, but also your co-workers!

Don’t forget to stretch. It seems like something so simple, but it is also something that is easily forgotten. Tight muscles are more suseptible to injury.

Supplement. No, don’t take Advil. Try a natural approach. Did you know that Bromelain is a natural anti-inflammatory? Also, try a Calcium/Magnesium complex to relax the muscles while supporting healthy bones.

Drink Water. Enough said.

Soak in the tub. Soaking sore muscles in a few cups of Epsom Salt and hot water can make a world of a difference. Try stretching after the hot bath too!

Seek massage and chiropractic work. Let’s face it, we’d like to have all the answers ourselves, but sometimes we must rely on the help of others. A weekly visit to the chiroprator or masseuse will fine tune you…at least until you have to rehearse some overhead lifts in a pas de deux.

 Practice these simple techniques to help promote an injury free career. Your body will thank you for it!

As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

-Nikol Klein, Certified Personal Trainer/ Professional Ballet Dancer

Strength Training and Ballet Dancers

In ballet, we’re all looking for that edge, what sets us apart from the next dancer. Some are born with fortunate genetics such as natural flexibility or a lean physique. For the rest of us who are not lucky enough to have these natural abilities, we must identify our weaknesses. Ballet technique alone is not going to save you.

 

Once you have identified your weaknesses, you can begin to address the problem.

Sometimes the answers can be found in ballet class. It’s true, there is no substitution for a good class, but there are other means to improving your weaknesses. Cardiovascular fitness, Pilates, and Strength Training…yes, Strength Training…are just a few of the methods that dancers are exploring these days to get the most out of their careers.

 

Strength Training was seen as taboo in the ballet world up until now. Older instructors will warn against it, saying that it will create short, bulky muscles. What some fail to recognize is that we as dancers have evolved, and the demands being put on our bodies are getting harder. Most ballet companies these days are also performing Contemporary works which can take a toll on the body if it is not properly conditioned.

 

Simple exercises can help tone and even out the muscle imbalances that dancers have from being too turned-out. If we work on strengthening the muscles in a parallel position, we can take some of the stress off the adductors, making for more efficient use of the leg in the turned-out positions.

 

I will touch on specific weaknesses and injuries in future blogs. Keep reading, and you can be on your way to a better ballet body. Remember; don’t try anything on your own without a proper assessment from a trainer specializing in dancers.

 

-Nikol Klein

Certified Personal Trainer

Professional Ballet Dancer