Disclaimer: Before starting any new workout or physical activity you should talk to your doctor. I am not a doctor. Go see one and ask them if you are healthy enough to (re)start dance classes- particularly ballet.
So last week I wrote about 4 things to forget when you’re returning to the barre. We chatted about those those fond, but oppressive memories of your old dance body that you needed to let go!
Well this week, I wanted to write about physical preparedness. This is the area where I completely fell short when I was returning to the barre after 13 years.
When you come back to dance, it’s usually after a long process of thinking about it, wanting to, being scared, thinking you’re foolish, forgetting about it, and then repeating the process. So after you jump over the mental hurdles and finally decide you want to get back to the barre, you immediately want to rush to class, either at home or at a studio, before you chicken out and change your mind. Right?
So…if I can catch you before you run to a class or even push play on a YouTube video PLEASE! give yourself at a few weeks to prepare for your first class. You are worth it! Your longevity in dance is worth it! No other athlete jumps in to run a marathon without preparation or into regular season without a preseason routine.
I am working on something special that will walk you through the processes of getting back to the barre, but in the meantime, here’s my 5 essential tips on how to prepare your physical body for dance:
- Improve your stamina with low impact cardio a few times a week. Petit and Grande allegro are no joke for professionals, so imagine if you haven’t jumped like that for years. I walk daily and jog stairs alternating between fast a moderate to challenge my stamina. Swimming and biking are also ideal and low impact.
- After warming up, stretch daily. Nothing like going to do a grand battement and realizing your hamstrings are tight as…(insert your fav word here).
- Work on core and back strength. Fact: Sitting at a desk all day withers away all core strength. When your arabesque looks… well like a slightly off the floor tendu to the back (hehe), know that core and back strength are what you need. Also it’s easy to try to hike your leg up to look like you used to, but that’s not smart for the long term.
- Strength Training. This is something I wish I would have paid way more attention to. When I was preparing to get back to the barre, I was hyper focused on my weight and appearance, but after 13 years away from public ballet classes, ignoring the (lack of ) strength of my muscles is what contributed to my meniscus tear. My hamstrings, quads, heck my whole lower body was weak from sitting at a desk from 9-5. Keep it simple, use your body weight or resistance bands to focus on ankle strength, hamstring strength, and turn out muscles.
- Eating right (you know what that means for your body-dancers have keen body awareness). Bottom line: makes sure you are working towards an ideal weight. No crash diets. No juicing fasts, no trying to get to your teenage weight, but be mindful that ballet is not for the faint of heart, so shedding excess weight lessens the impact on hips, knees, and ankles.
So those are my 5 tips– the things I wish someone would have told me when I restarted ballet. I hope this (A) convinced you to get back to the barre if you were on the fence, and (B) gave you some things to incorporate into your daily routine if you’ve decided to give ballet another go.
I’ll see you at the barre beautiful dancers,
Amber Genise XX