Is your narrative is saying things like, "I'm too tired to cross-train," "I have no energy," or "I already do enough exercise in dance class?"
Then, you may need to rethink how you are currently cross-training for dance class.
Dancers and athletes who cross-train have shown to have higher recovery rates and more energy rather than be injured & run down by cross-training.
Unfortunately, a lot of internet fads have led dancers to improper cross-training that is just like dancing in a different environment.
So, you ask- what is "proper" cross-training for dancers?
The simple answer is it is using DIFFERENT muscles than what you do in dance class. This means working in parallel and/or activating the surrounding muscles of a joint.
What this does NOT mean is doing balletic type movements on a Bosu ball or just taking a ballet class with ankle weights. That's just ballet class in a harder form and will not train the surrounding muscles to support you more.
I want to distinguish between dancer cross-training and ballet fitness. These two terms are often used interchangeably but, should not be.
Ballet fitness is when a trainer designs an exercise program that uses ballet type movements to create a workout. While some dancers may confuse this with cross-training, it is most definitely not cross-training. It is simply ballet movements in the form of an exercise class.
These classes (especially on my platform) are mainly geared toward dancers who left the dance world but, still want a little dance in their lives or non-dancers who use ballet to workout.
Cross-training is simply exercising the targets muscles that dancers need in the classroom in different ways than ballet movements. So, not a ballet class on steroids. And, it's also not cross-fit.
Examples of effective cross-training for dancers would be the following scenarios:
A dancer comes to me with iliopsoas tendonitis & is having trouble with their front extensions.
Solution through cross-training:
I begin a program with this dancer to strengthen their hip flexors, abductors, and hip extensors. I give this dancer exercises in parallel to support the entire hip joint. I also work on core stabilization holding the core in neutral in order to give that hip flexor additional support when performing the front extension.
Then, once muscles are properly trained we go back and work through the mechanics of front extension to identify any other weak or tight muscles that may be inhibiting this movement.
This is a pretty common scenario that I have run into many times. I have worked with dancers who are so surprised that the exercises that seem nothing like dance have actually improved their technique and made it painless.
Let's also circle around to not everyone is qualified to teach or coach ballet dancers.
Dancers require specific types of training in order to improve their technique. Coaches who are out there with dancers flipping tires and doing extreme powerlifting may not understand what is required of our bodies when dancing.
Dancers require both flexibility & strength. We want mobility in dance. Mobility is when the muscle is strong throughout a large range of motion. The best example of mobility is during any direction of an extension or battement.
With too much power lifting dancers may shorten the muscles too much creating a decreased amount of flexibility. Conversely, dancers who stretch too often can create a weakness, tightness and imbalance in their technique.
A common misconception in the dance world is if you're muscle is tight stretch it. Unfortunately, that is not always the solution to a tight muscle. Tightness can also be a sign that the surrounding muscles in the joint are weak or overused. By stretching too often, the tightness can often increase because the instability is increasing as a result of your constant stretching.
This is where having a qualified, educated, professional in the field of personal training and dance comes in.
My approach to training my dancers takes a full body approach where I look at everything in order to solve the problem. If your knees hurt, we don't just work on your knees. We look at your technique, we work on your knees, and we work on other muscles that may be contributing to the knee pain.
So, remember these things when choosing your cross-training program and coach to work with:
Does your coach have solely a physical therapy/personal training background or have they also gained knowledge and experience in the dance field? (they don't need to have been a professional dancer but, they should have knowledge of the mechanics & technique).
Does your coach have education on anatomy and physiology or are they a dancer who just decided to coach one day because they took a few ballet classes?
Does the program look a lot like ballet with weights? Then, it might be ballet fitness and not cross training for dancers.
Does the program work on muscles in both parallel and turned out or does it just look like a ballet class on steroids?
Does your coach seem to take into consideration your individual needs and watch both your exercise technique & your dance technique?
Ready to start working on your customized program to improve your technique?
Private lessons can be booked with me, Certified PT of dance, former pro dancer, and 15+ year ballet instructor by clicking here.
We will start with an evaluation of your dance technique, customize your training program, and continue to reassess you progress along. the way.
You can also participate in my follow along courses that will guide you through training specific areas of your body such as turnout, extensions, turns, balance, core, posture, and mobility.
These courses are all included in the unlimited month/year plan or can be purchased separately by clicking here.
Remember, you only get one body to dance. Take care of it now before you can't dance anymore.