Cross-Training for Dancers: Keeping Active During the Summer
Rest and relaxation may be tempting during the warm weather, but dance students who are serious about staying in shape and being ready to excel come fall need to stay active to maintain their muscle tone, flexibility and endurance. Here are some tips on cross-training for dancers that studio owners and dance teachers can pass onto their students.
“Summertime indulgences can set dancers back.”
Benefits of Cross-Training for Dancers
If students are going to truly commit to cross-training, they need to understand its importance. One of the big benefits of cross-training during the summer is that it will help dancers stay in shape. Week after week of lounging around the house, hanging at the pool and indulging at summertime cookouts can set dancers back if they don’t keep up their activity levels. Dedicated students should be working to maintain muscle strength and flexibility while also improving trouble areas.
While these short-term goals are important, there are also some bigger benefits of cross-training for dancers. Students who are consistently engaging in activities outside the studio often are less prone to injuries and can push past training obstacles faster than dance-focused peers.
Activity Options for Dancers
So does this mean your students should spend their vacations in the gym? Not at all! There are many different methods of cross-training that will appeal to even the most reluctant dancers. David Popoli, M.D., a primary care sports medicine physician from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, explains that there are activities that allow dancers to express their artistic side while still giving them a great workout.
Yoga and Pilates
As Popoli mentioned, yoga and Pilates are great summertime activities for dancers. These low-impact activities will help students improve their flexibility, control their breathing and target specific muscle groups. You may want to see if a group of your dedicated dancers are willing to take a yoga class in the studio over the summer – hosting an instructor is a great way to bring in a little extra revenue during the slow season.
Another viable option is weight training. Many females are hesitant to lift weights, as they don’t want to end up with big bulky muscles. However, when done correctly, weight training can be extremely beneficial to dancers.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about weight training,” Emery Hill, athletic trainer at Houston Ballet, explained to Dance Spirit magazine. “People think that if you lift weights, you’ll get big musculature. But it can be very beneficial as far as being able to lift or be lifted, or to hold your position, because you have more basic strength.”
Encourage your dancers to work on their cores, biceps and legs by lifting weights. Three sets of each exercise with eight to 10 reps is the perfect amount to keep them looking long and lean while still building up strength.
When the weather is simply too nice to stay inside, dancers can continue their training with outdoor sports. Students who want a full-body workout can try swimming laps at their local pool. This activity doesn’t put any pressure on the joints, but it can really get your heart pumping, helping improve endurance.
Biking is a good choice for dancers who want to build up their leg strength. Encourage your students to ride in low-resistance areas – like flat stretches of land – so their leg muscles stay trim.