Cross Training and Other Non-Dance Workouts that are Great for Dancers!

By Cody Frank

You wear the newest fads, take class, and watch your health. However, are you only taking class? Are you cross training?

Cross training is a word you may hear often, however are you aware of all the benefits? Why it’s important?  The definition is to engage in various sports or exercises especially for well-rounded health and muscular development.

Lucky for you, whether you are exercising for competition or for improved health and fitness the basics of cross training are similar. For starters, you can vary your exercise program from day to day by trying different activities or by adding a new exercise to your normal routine. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that for a normal healthy adult you exercise at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity.  (Aerobic activity requires oxygen). There is also the option to combine vigorous and moderate exercise. It is recommended to spread exercising throughout the duration of the week. Strength training (which is an anaerobic activity and does not require oxygen) is advised to occur 1-2 times a week.

Specifically for dancers, the following cross-training activities are ideal to reach maximum Fly Gyal potential:

*Yoga –Will lengthen and strengthen your muscles. Beneficial for the mind as well.

*Pilates – Strengthens core. You will always hear the teacher say core at least once in class or rehearsal.

*Swimming – Allows dancer’s joints to have some relief against the floor. When in the water, gravity does not affect you.

*Biking – Can serve as extra help to strengthen quadriceps and gluteus muscles. Keep the resistance at a low setting, do not lean forward, and breathe.

*Cross-country skiing – Increases cardiovascular strength and improves the parallel position.

*Elliptical – A cardiovascular workout without the high impact

*Strength Training – Builds strength. To gain strength, lift heavier weights with fewer repetitions. Lifting less weight with more repetitions will build bulky muscles.

Now that you have some more ideas to use when you cross-train; below are a few key notes to remember.

–       Wear supportive shoes. This will help correct imbalances and keep you stable.

–       Be aware of your alignment. For instance, when in parallel position, check to see if your knees are in front of your hips and directly over your toes.

–       Cross-train in a way that complements your style of dance. Turned out all day? Work on staying parallel. Using the lower body during rehearsal? Then increase your muscle strength in your upper body. Variety is key.

–       Limit yourself – don’t over do it and be smart with how you cross-train.

After the above information, you might still be wondering why cross-train? The benefits of cross-training are:

1. Reduces risk of types of injuries by balancing the muscles of the body

2. Provides relief to muscles that are constantly worked.

3. Helps to improve the dancer’s technique, strength, and endurance.

*As always, consult your physician before making changes to your diet and exercise regimen, and take classes from professional, certified instructors.

Thanks to Merriam-Webster, Mayo Clinic, ACE Fitness, and Dance Spirit for the above information.

Photo via SoleSisters
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