Dos and Don’ts of Cross-training for Dancers
To start off it is important to understand the dancer body. As dancers we strive for lean muscles and core strength, so this means that when you think about cross-training outside the dance studio, think about exercises that will help you continue shaping and strengthening your dancer body. Additionally, think of exercises that will not put you in harms way or cause an injury.
Ever since I started dancing I have known Pilates. At my old studio we would warm-up by doing a fifteen to twenty minute Pilates Mat warm up. I vividly remember my first experience with this form of exercise that believes in the mind body spirit connection. I was seven year’s old and from that day I have never stopped practicing this exercise and art form. Since I know the positives of practicing Pilates, I feel comfortable talking about it as a successful cross-training practice.
The benefits of practicing Pilates are that you gain stability through core strength exercises and increase mobility with correct alignment. As dancers we strive for strong technique and core strength; therefore, Pilates is a great way to achieve these goals. By focusing on specific muscles with each exercise and pinpointing which muscles are weak, tight or overstretched, Pilates helps you understand and work towards stronger leaner muscles.
If you decide to start a Pilates regime to compliment your dance classes, make sure you attend a class that is offered by a certified instructor. Here is the link to the Pilates Method Alliance website where you can search for a PMA certified Pilates teacher near you.
When cross-training it’s all about moderation, make sure you balance your exercise regime with all of the hours you are in the dance studio while still giving yourself time to rest, recover and refuel.
When exercising remember to keep your body in alignment and wear supportive shoes for your important dancer feet. Finally, think about what you work on most in dance class and target your weak areas when you cross train. For example, if you are a dancer with a stronger bottom half take advantage of your cross-training and focus on your upper body or any area you know is not as strong as your lower half.
Finally, keep on the look out for additional cross-training offerings for dancers. As technology continues to evolve more and more methods are developed. Here is one example of NYC Ballet’s Joaquin De Luz cross training method Dancer Fit. Joaquin took his knowledge of being a professional dancer and designed a strengthening program for dancers.
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