Cross Training. You’ve probably heard the term before, but do you know what it means and why it matters to you as a dancer? Well, cross training simply refers to training in a sport or activity other than the one which is your main focus. By doing so, you improve the skills and fitness needed for your main activity. In our case, it means doing activities other than dance to supplement your dance training. We’re going to explain why you should cross train, and how you can get started.
What & Why?
Why should you bother with cross training? Well, it’s a great way to continue to improve your fitness, gain skills, and reach goals. We all have different natural strengths and weaknesses. No matter how great your teachers are, or how many classes you take, sometimes there are going to be things that you need to focus on in your own time in order to see improvement.
Cross Training can also be a fun way to switch things up. You love to dance, obviously. But sometimes doing an activity without the pressure to reach an elite level can be a welcome change. You don’t need to stress about how good you are at your cross training activity: you’re doing it to help you dance! Choose something fun, and don’t take it too seriously. CoreDance Founder & Director Geneen Georgiev loves keeping her cross training playful, with monkey bar workouts at the beach, and martial arts!
How can you implement cross training into your already busy life? After all, you’re already at the studio 5 nights a week, and you have school, friends, and family. Our advice? Just add one session a week, about 1 hour. Involve your friends and family- go for a bike ride, or a Sunday hike!
During holidays and breaks from dance, add more to keep yourself in peak condition. We all need a break from dance (even just a little one) so Christmas, Spring Break, or Summer Vacation are perfect time to add a little something different.
What to do?
So what sorts of cross training are useful for a dancer? Well, that depends on what you want to get out of it.
Do you find that you’re struggling with flexibility? Perhaps a yoga class would be perfect for you. Are your teachers telling you that you need to work on your core? Try going to the gym or focusing on strength training at home: standing on a balance board or working with a stability ball can be extremely beneficial in gaining core strength, as well as balance.
Some other suitable choices for dancers include pilates, swimming, biking, hiking, running, aerial silks, and weight training. Figure out what it is that you need to focus on, and find an activity that complements it!
Tips & Reminders
Choose activities that are specific to the style of dance you do, and what you need to improve on. If you want to improve your stamina, focus on cardio like swimming, biking, or running. If you want to increase your flexibility, choose something along the lines of yoga or pilates. If you’re looking at overall strength and fitness, hit the gym or add some resistance/weight training at home.
Remember that cross training should be supplemental to your dance training; it shouldn’t take over, or cause you to be tired during your dance classes. Keep it fun, and don’t over do it!
September is almost here, and with it comes the shift from sunny care-free days to schedule and routine. You might not be ready for “Back to School”, but you’re probably ready to head back to dance! The beginning of
a new dance year brings so much excitement: Seeing your dance friends after a few months apart, wondering what songs your teachers will choose for choreography, amping up to learn the latest “it” move.
However, after two months of vacation, heading back into the studio can come with a few challenges. Here are our Top 5 Tips for easing back in, and making sure that you start your dance year off right!
#1- Attend an End of Summer Intensive
Nothing helps you get back in shape faster than an intensive! Find a studio in your area that offers summer classes and get yourself moving. Our good friends over at M.E.M. Dance Co. are offering a Pre-Season Intensive the week before Labour Day! Check out their website for more information. http://www.memdanceco.com/
#2- Start Slow
Maybe you did a summer intensive or two. Maybe you watched a lot of Netflix. However you spent your summer, it’s important to remember that your body will need to re-adjust to dancing multiple hours a day. It’s better to take it a bit slow than to jump in unprepared and end up with an injury.
Be extra aware during high-impact moves, like jumps. Landing complicated jumps when your ankles and knees aren’t yet ready will put you at risk for sprains, strains, tears, and even breaks
Your teachers know what you are capable of, so don’t feel like you have to impress them. Start small, and work your way up! Why not drop into a beginner class and refresh your basics?
#3- Set Goals
Once you’re feeling back on track and ready to kick it up a notch, set a few dance goals for the year. Try setting a goal for flexibility, technique, and performance. Goals are a great way to measure your progress, and to challenge yourself. Tell a teacher or dance friend so they can help you keep on track.
#4- Stretch and Strengthen
Take time every evening to do a few gentle stretches at home. Make it a part of your bedtime routine. You already know that it’s important to stretch when you’re warm, so do it after having a bath, or make sure to do a little cardio first!
Rebuild strength in your feet and ankles using a Theraband (they’re cheap & available at Sports Equipment stores, physio offices, & Walmart). Check out these exercises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6us2J8gFLc
You can also strengthen your feet and toes with toe gymnastics: try picking up pencils with your toes, stand on a towel and “gather” it up with your toes, try to lift each of your toes off the floor one at a time. It’s harder than it sounds!
It might not hit you right away, but you are going to experience some soreness after the first few days back in class.
The best way to ease the pain? Proper self care.
My final tip for getting ready to dance again? Plan a Dance Movie Night with your dance besties. My favourite (and cheesy) picks are “Center Stage,” “Save the Last Dance,” and of course the entire “Step Up” franchise. Or try something inspirational, such as “First Position” or “Pina”.
Good luck, and have a great “Back to Dance” season!