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Going to the gym??


swanprincess
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I was just wondering if anyone's dd goes to the gym, and if so, what exercises/equipment do you use? The reason that I ask is because on Saturday mornings I do yoga at the leisure centre, but then have a couple of hours before going to ballet. Would it be worth going to the gym in this spare time, and if so, what equipment do I use to build core strength and complement my ballet? Thankyou :)

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I use the gym at school occasionally and we have hip abductor and adductor machines. These are really useful for strengthening inside and outside thighs. I also used the abdominal cruncher. Lots of reps with a low weight is the best way to build strength but not build heavy muscles which of course is not what you want for ballet :)

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Can't think of amything specific but I would personally avoid the treadmill as it can be really hard on the knees. The cross-trainer might be good for general stamina, I know a normal class doesn't have the same aerobic effect as the cross-trainer for me!

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25-30 minutes on a cross trainer is great aerobic non-impact training while focusing on holding your lower abdominals in (transverse abdominus - think of zipping up a tight pair of jeans and that's the muscle you need to hold) will help with your core. If the gym has Swiss balls you could use them too - look up 'progressing ballet technique' on Facebook for some great ballet specific Swiss ball exercises, or there's loads of ways you can use a Swiss ball for core exercises - again have a look online or ask someone at the gym to show you some / check you're doing them safely.

 

Finally - remember that if you want to build strength you have to take protein into the body through high protein foods or protein shakes as well as doing the exercises. If you don't take on the protein, the exercises done might cause the muscle you're working to break down but not recover / build up and you could end up with injuries.

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Cardio exercise will be good - cross trainer but also treadmill - walking, not running!

I personally think that abs machine us not so good for you as a ballet dancer, Swiss ball exercises or the one when you use your own body weight ( Plank or other Pilates exercise)

are the best - but they need to be done properly - ask a good fitness instructor for help.

I don't think that protein shakes are a good option in this case, well balanced diet is good enough for you to build up strength in my opinion. If you'd like any help please PM me as I am a "fitness professional" :-)

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Yes there are loads of natural sources of protein, lentils, qunioa and turkey are some of my favourites :) I definitely wouldn't go the protein shake route, but there are some really nice protein bars if you are in a hurry between classes.

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One of the things dancers seem to need to do is to build up stamina. dancers are more like 100m athletes than marathon runners. To help I know my DD tries to swim and I wonder if this is a possible option for you? it doesn't hurt any body part, can be helpful to support injuries and will build up stamina?

 

Heather

Aka Taximom

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Swanprincess, you could just go with repeating a few class exercises whilst tired and building up slowly rather than setting yourself back with too much exercise. If you take baby steps, although this might be frustrating, it will pay off in the long run. If you could get to a reformer pilates class that might help without burning too many calories. Go gently as you are trying to heal as well as develop as a dancer. The rest will come in time but health comes first. ????I added the tortoise to remind you that fast does not always equal winning!

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thank you very much for the replies, thats really helpful :)

 

Swanprincess, you could just go with repeating a few class exercises whilst tired and building up slowly rather than setting yourself back with too much exercise. If you take baby steps, although this might be frustrating, it will pay off in the long run. If you could get to a reformer pilates class that might help without burning too many calories. Go gently as you are trying to heal as well as develop as a dancer. The rest will come in time but health comes first. I added the tortoise to remind you that fast does not always equal winning!

what you say about dancing whilst tired is interesting- i instinctively thought that dancing whilst tired was likely to cause injury? would dancing through slight tiredness be beneficial? (for example, after academic exams at school when i felt tired i missed a dance class, thinking that i wouldn't have enough energy to focus. In future, would it be more beneficial to not miss dance classes when tired, in order to build up stamina?) thank you for your lovely words of encouragement :)

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It's not so much in that sense but when you feel well and are not stressed with exams it can be useful just to push a tiny bit extra whilst in a class you feel well enough to do. I do not mean to this extreme but often professionals will perform a pas de deux etc for a second time whilst tired to build up stamina for the show. On a small scale this might mean occasionally doing the allegro twice if it is done in 2 groups in class, having a go at an extra arabesque or adage combination for a second time. Hope this make sense but also listen to your body as rest is also important in order to recover and build strength so pacing will be key.

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Doing something whilst fatigued is a good way to build stamina but it should be something EASY! ie low skill level that isn't too challenging or tricky. Fatigue related injuries are caused by being too tired to maintain safe/correct technique and that's more likely to happen in something technically advanced. (Does that make sense?!)

 

When doing stamina training exercise physiologists recommend low skill level which is why something like skipping / cross trainer works well but simple dance specific things work well too such as sautes, gallops, pose temps leve etc

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When I hit a stressful blip in the road but I still needed to attend ballet class, I would do the class to the best of my ability but I wouldn't push it.  I called that kind of class a "maintenance" class - enough to keep up skills, but not the time to aim for a new level.   I think a "maintenance" class is better than no class - unless one is truly injured or ill.   I also found that the class usually helped to ease whatever stress I was under.  We are usually stressed because something is out of control.  Ballet class restored that sense of control.

 

When rehearsing for a performance, I always double rehearsed - go through my dancet twice without a break.  However, if the dance was truly arduous, I wouldn't double rehearse right off - but build up to it.  At each rehearsal doing a bit  more until I had done the dance twice through.

 

I found this very helpful for a couple of reasons.  Usually when performing there is a certain amount of excitement - during which we tend to breathe faster and thus shallower.  But if any doublts assailed me during the performance - I KNEW I was capable of doing it twice through- and thus doing it once was assured.  That thought relaxed me, and my breathing would ease and the whole thing became much more flowing.  

 

I don't think one has to be tired in order to build stamina - I think one can do it by gaining control of core strength.  That is not only an issue of strength but of how to apply that strength.  One doesn't have to be tired at all to do that.  Gain knowledge - apply it intelligently.

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