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balletagogo

What fitness regime is suitable for a dancer?

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Hi

I am thinking ahead to possibly my daughter not getting a place at drama school to do MT and trying to have some options in place. Fingers crossed it won't come to it but I would rather have something in hand. ( funding  issues )

Apart from some dance classes and workshops that she can do- what can she do to keep up her level of fitness?

She has been at a vocational 6th form with over 30 hours a week contact time so really needs to keep up the stamina she has developed. 

Many thanks

 

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Running! You can’t get much better than that for stamina. Careful with the surface, probably not trail so as to avoid risk to ankles, and not too long a distance. 5k is enough. DD’s vocational school sets this, along with a strengthening workout as summer holiday homework.

(You will probably get more responses if you request for this to be moved off the sale board and over to the main Doing Dance section.)

Edited by SissonneDoublee

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Running is a no-no for those with hypermobile joints, which many dancers have to varying degree, as are other high impact sports.  Before starting on any fitness regime, a Physio or Doctor should be consulted.  Swimming is good, low impact exercise, as is walking and cross-training (on something like an eliptical trainer).  Warming up on an exercise bike is good as long as the resistance is not too high.  Rowing machines on a low resistance are fine assuming there’s no back injury; again, consulting a Physio or Personal Trainer who works with dancers is key.

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I’d disagree with ruling out running completely (personal opinion of course and I don’t know your daughter and haven’t seen her to know her physique). 
 

The research in dance science has shown that all types of dance are high-intensity, intermittent forms of exercise which requires a good aerobic foundation in order to recover quickly in between bouts of activity, to avoid cumulative fatigue which is a high risk factor for injury. So, first and foremost all dancers need a good level of aerobic fitness. How they choose to train this is up to them, of course, but it must be challenging enough to cause a training effect. Dance class alone is not sufficiently challenging. It has to be something that gets the dancers heart rate elevated to 70-80% of maximum, without dropping, for at least 20-30 minutes. 

On top of this aerobic foundation, local muscular strength and endurance at the major joints is good to protect and guard against injury. The best way to do this (again, opinion only and without seeing an individual, I cannot be prescriptive or personalized) is to use general, whole body movements such as squats, deadlifts, pull ups, press ups, crawling, etc.

 

I think that CrossFit has fantastic crossover for dancers as a class (programmed effectively by a good coach) should include an element of whole body strength training and then has the metabolic conditioning (aerobic/anaerobic) element too. It’s popular with gymnasts, a lot of whom are hypermobile too. 
 

Please feel free to PM me if you would like to discuss this more or arrange a session where I can advise you individually. 

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Fair enough, drdance 👍🏻 You’re certainly better qualified than I!  I was just going on what I’ve been told but that of course was advice by Doctors and Physios aimed at my daughter.   Yours is good advice.

 

 

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Thank you both,she isn't hypermobile, I can see how that can prove tricky. She does 45 mins cardio each morning,she is physically strong ,slim build and has excellent stamina.

If she runs she might want me to go with her and that's a no no for me! 

 

 

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My dd is a professional dancer and does a combination of running, weights, squats, pull ups, dead lifts etc etc, etc, but everything she does was under proper direction from a performance & enhancement coach. She started about three years ago post injury as part of her rehab and the results have been transformational. It is all now part of her daily routine, but she only does certain things on certain days, not everything every day.

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My DD regularly goes to a dance physio, who gives her exercises to suit her specific needs and goals.  Yes, this is expensive but, I think it is essential when you are 'serious' about your ballet.   Higher on our list than paying for summer intensives etc.

 

You get to a point where just adding more dance class hours is not the answer.

Edited by DD Driver
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Running came up in a BBC documentary presented by Michael Mosley. Guess what? Humans are built to run. Running might even be better for your joints than walking, as the joints are under load for less time when running.

 

Something else that was mentioned, is that dance is good for both the body and the mind. I have always believed this. In the gym, you just have to do the exercise and count the reps or watch the time. In dance you do the exercise and you have to think about the sequence of steps. I both go to the gym and take ballet classes. In the gym, I'm a grunt. In the dance studio I'm much more graceful (within the limits of what by body can physically do).

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09qjl7d/the-truth-about-15-getting-fit

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What about yoga? Excellent for strength, balance and flexibility. And the more dynamic classes are great cardio too. Also a lot more interesting and fun than gym-type exercises. 

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it depends on the dancer and her special strengths and weaknesses and goals, training load,...

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9 hours ago, Millicent said:

What about yoga? Excellent for strength, balance and flexibility. And the more dynamic classes are great cardio too. Also a lot more interesting and fun than gym-type exercises. 

I did wonder about yoga,will add it to the list,thank you.

 

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Some aspects of Yoga can be good, but beware the Lotus and half Lotus positions. They twist the knee joint and over-stretch the outer ankle in a sickled position - very bad for a dancer.

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12 hours ago, Millicent said:

What about yoga? Excellent for strength, balance and flexibility. And the more dynamic classes are great cardio too. Also a lot more interesting and fun than gym-type exercises. 

 

That depends on the person. I'd much rather be in the gym than in a yoga class. I have done yoga off and on for years and it really isn't for me. Whatever exercise works for you is the best.

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It’s all about what the dancer wants to achieve by way of their supplemental fitness training, and current workload already in place. More is not necessarily better, rest is crucial and the phrase “train smarter not harder” is worth remembering. Be critical and analytical of everything in the schedule - ask yourself why am I doing this, what do I want to get from it and is it sufficiently demanding to elicit the desired physiological changes? Following that, ask yourself am I varying my schedule /allowing enough rest time for the physiological changes to take place?  
 

The biggest mistake I come across in terms of dancers and training, is people filling their schedules with too much that is unnecessary and undoing the good work that they may have done in one or two good quality sessions by wiping themselves out doing six. 

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Too true drdance.  As a teacher it can be so disheartening when all the hard work you have done with a pupil is undone because they (or mum) thought they needed to do more elsewhere!

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Don't forget pilates.  Excellent for all round strengthening, but I would suggest small class sessions (or 1 to 1's) with experienced teachers where the teacher watches every student and will make corrections.

 

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6 hours ago, drdance said:

It’s all about what the dancer wants to achieve by way of their supplemental fitness training, and current workload already in place. More is not necessarily better, rest is crucial and the phrase “train smarter not harder” is worth remembering. Be critical and analytical of everything in the schedule - ask yourself why am I doing this, what do I want to get from it and is it sufficiently demanding to elicit the desired physiological changes? Following that, ask yourself am I varying my schedule /allowing enough rest time for the physiological changes to take place?  
 

The biggest mistake I come across in terms of dancers and training, is people filling their schedules with too much that is unnecessary and undoing the good work that they may have done in one or two good quality sessions by wiping themselves out doing six. 

You put it brilliantly, spot on. It’s definitely about building the specific body you need. Having watched my own dd’s long rehab back from injury I am totally convinced that it is the right supplemental fitness and strength training which equips and protects the whole body. The levels of fitness and strength required when dancing professionally obviously vary greatly and some jobs require awesome levels of strength and fitness!

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So many varying opinions, thank you. I guess she will have to see what she enjoys and what is of best benefit and what I can afford !

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On 28/01/2020 at 12:54, drdance said:

It’s all about what the dancer wants to achieve by way of their supplemental fitness training, and current workload already in place. More is not necessarily better, rest is crucial and the phrase “train smarter not harder” is worth remembering. Be critical and analytical of everything in the schedule - ask yourself why am I doing this, what do I want to get from it and is it sufficiently demanding to elicit the desired physiological changes? Following that, ask yourself am I varying my schedule /allowing enough rest time for the physiological changes to take place?  
 

The biggest mistake I come across in terms of dancers and training, is people filling their schedules with too much that is unnecessary and undoing the good work that they may have done in one or two good quality sessions by wiping themselves out doing six. 

Absolutely agree, great advice.Her vocational school is very well balanced in that respect.  I have had a look at your website and it's really informative,wish you were down South.

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1 hour ago, balletagogo said:

Absolutely agree, great advice.Her vocational school is very well balanced in that respect.  I have had a look at your website and it's really informative,wish you were down South.

Thank you! I do travel 😁

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