3 Cross-Training Tips For Ballet Dancers
Ballet is a wonderfully challenging form of exercise. But what else do you do to stay fit when you’re not in the studio? Jog at sunrise? Or do you prefer downward dog? Professionals and novices alike do well to maintain a fitness regimen outside the world of pliés and pirouettes. Exploring a variety of exercise programs in conjunction with dancing can help you become a better dancer, and keep you in optimal shape. Consider three cross-training tips for ballet dancers.
1. Try yoga.
Yoga has many therapeutic benefits including increased core strength and positive meditative effects. It also increases flexibility. The slow, gentle movements help to safely warm up with body, making the way for greater range of motion. Second, it improves your posture with exercises that are designed to take stress off the lower back and help realign the spine. When paired with regular chiropractic care, yoga can greatly diminish back and neck pain. Also, the mild, restorative poses in yoga can help you relax. Dancers tend to be perfectionists; engaging in a practice that requires you to “let go” is not only physically beneficial, but also promotes mental and emotional well-being.
2. Go for a jog.
With all the jumps and leaps ballet requires, it should come as no surprise that dancers have significantly higher stamina than most. If you find that you struggle to get through combinations without gasping for breath, try jogging 2 or 3 times a week. Jogging increases circulation and greatly improves stamina. Granted, jogging without taking the proper precautions can lead to shin splints, severe strain on the knees, or worse, cardiac arrest. Prior to setting foot on the pavement, it would be wise to allot at least 10-15 minutes to give your body a sufficient warm-up, stretching the calves, hamstrings, and ankles. Then, practice intermittent jogging, or brisk walking combined with short sprints. Always set reasonable goals for yourself, and always wear appropriate footwear.
3. Swim a few laps.
Swimming is another great way to get your blood flowing and tone your muscles at the same time. Unlike jogging, swimming is a very low-impact workout that’s easy on the joints. Dancers love it. (After all, synchronized swimming is also referred to as “water ballet”.) Extend the grace and poise of ballet technique into your local swimming pool and swim a few laps after class, or on days that you’re not in the studio. Swimming is a great complementary exercise to keep you physically active without leaving you drained (no pun intended).
Not a dancer? Include ballet in your cross-training! It’s a widely-known fact that NFL coaches have required their players to take ballet to improve their agility on the field. Yes, everyone from football and basketball players, to gymnasts and track stars have benefited from ballet training. Regardless of what your main gig is, use common sense and take care of your body. Cross-training, when pursued safely, can give you insight into other disciplines and make you a more well-rounded athlete/artist.