Dancing is both an incredible art and a very physically demanding sport. Competitive dancers work hard during their classes to perfect their routines and often dedicate much of their free time outside of classes to their fitness regimes. This level of commitment may be harder to maintain in the off-season, especially without the strict scheduling that regular dance classes provide.
Keeping dancer fitness levels up during the off season is essential for dancers who want to be able to pick right up where they left off when they return to their lessons in the fall. Creating a healthy and challenging exercise program during the off-season is a surefire way to maintain the strength, balance and flexibility you worked so hard to build in your classes.
The Importance of Cross Training
One of the most beneficial things any athlete can do for himself or herself is take part in a cross training program. While practicing moves and routines that are specific to dance are great for muscle memory, it can leave some areas of the body under worked. According to The Dance Journal, the point of cross training is to add to a fitness level without causing overexertion. It can create a more rounded, total body fitness that helps to prevent injuries.
There are many ways to cross train, with each offering its own benefit to your fitness regime. Aerobic exercises like running or spinning can improve endurance and lung capacity. Weight training can help you pinpoint specific muscle groups that you want to target, like creating more dynamic leg muscles or strengthening your core.
Whatever your goals for the off season are, it’s important to take your cross training slowly and to make sure you’re doing exercises correctly. Trying to do too much to too soon can lead to easily preventable injuries. Be sure to also take rest days and to mix up your workout routines. Doing the same exercises every day will cause you to eventually reach a plateau where you stop making progress and just increase your risks of getting hurt instead.
Attend Other Fitness Classes
If you prefer the structure of having classes to go to each week, consider joining a gym that offers fitness programs. Classes that focus on strength and flexibility, like yoga or pilates, are great for building the muscles and increasing the range of motion that you need for dancing, according to Marie Claire. Having a schedule can help keep you accountable during the offseason so you’re less likely to skip workouts.
The summer season can be a good time to experiment with different workout programs. Find something that you enjoy and that gives you the results you’re looking for. Attend classes that are fun and make you excited to be there.
Talk to Your Dance Teacher
Planning a dancer fitness program by yourself can be a tough task, especially when most of your dance technique experience comes from the classroom and not the gym. Ask your teacher for specific exercises or workouts to be doing during the off-season, so you have some professional guidance on how to keep your form up. Depending on your studio’s summer plans, you may even be able to get into the classroom a few times over the summer for some dedicated work.
Taking Care of Your Body
Exercise is important to dancer fitness but it isn’t the only element. Be sure you’re still taking care of your overall health, like eating healthy, balanced meals and drinking plenty of water. Remember that your body needs calories for energy. Try to avoid doing heavy workouts if you haven’t had a substantial meal yet, and stay hydrated during hot summer days.
Sleep is also critical for staying in shape. Your body makes repairs and rejuvenates itself when you’re getting some shut-eye. Make sure you don’t skimp on the rest so you can feel and perform at your best.
If you have any concerns about your summer dancer fitness plans, be sure to talk to your instructors or a doctor. Focus on your safety so that you’re ready to come back to dancing again in the fall.