Updated: Aug 16, 2022
Would you like to have a toned and beautiful ballet body? Are you looking to improve your overall health by choosing a high protein diet? Would you like to discover what kind of exercises you need to keep your body strong and energetic? As a professional ballet teacher and as a trained ballet dancer I would like to share with you these amazing tips which I gained through my personal experience. I would like to highlight that not every dancer has the same shape, size or height but everyone can have a toned and strong body with the right exercises and diet. In order to get significant and durable results it is crucial that you have some kind of cross-training aside from your dance practice and that you are constant. Even though there are some more popular ones such as Pilates, Yoga, running, swimming and the usual gym workout, many other physical activities can bring additional benefits.
What is cross training?
Cross training for dancers is all the extra and different exercises that you do outside your ballet training and which can help to develop skills needed for your dancing. Physical activities or sports such as the one listed previously are the most advised by teachers but activities such as badminton, tennis, martial arts, gymnastics, body balance, any other type of dancing and so many more, can also contribute in shaping a beautiful ballet body. Of course they can also help to improve some of the skills which can increase your ballet performance. A great example comes from my personal experience and from one of the first disciplines that I started at the age of 15 together with artistic gymnastics: Karate Shotokan. I always wanted to do ballet since I was a little girl but for many unfortunate reasons I was not able to, so I ended up doing Karate instead for a year and continued for a few more years in Wales. I thought that it was always something interesting to learn and that it's always good to be able to defend yourself. That didn’t just make me a more confident young woman but also it helped me to build discipline and gave me skills such as strength, stamina, flexibility and balance which were beneficial for my dancing. I did practice it for a few years on and off but in the end I decided to give it up as it wasn't really my passion. I belonged to the ballet world.. As I mentioned earlier, I also did artistic gymnastics in college for a year and later on for a couple of years in a gymnastics academy in Wales called YMCA. Here I gained artistic skills which I later used in my dancing choreography and learned how to properly point my toes which is a must in ballet. Another discipline which I learned back in Valencia, Spain was contortionism. This discipline was a total surprise for me as I believed that I would have spent most of the time stretching and working on my suppleness but instead I was on my hands all the time. My private instructor told me that you need to be able to hold the handstand, scorpion position, headstand and move from one position to the other with fluidity and ease before working on my flexibility. Of course my wrists started to hurt me and also being upside down for most of the training caused vertigo making me have a stomach ache and headache. After a while though my body got used to it and I pushed myself even more doing most of the balance positions without the help of my instructor. I have started this discipline especially as a ballet cross training to significantly improve my flexibility but not knowing it also crazily improved my balance. I also practice daily Pilates and yoga and every now and then, I like to go for a run or a swim depending on the season.
Check out this post if you would like to keep your body stronger and healthier “Feel amazing: how to boost your immune system”
What kind of food should a ballet dancer eat?
Dancers need lots of energy all day long especially if they are professionals and eating food which supplies the body with that, it is important. Foods which are high in protein will give us sustained energy such as fish, dairy products, legumes, nuts, quorn etc. Healthy fat such as nuts, eggs, Extra Virgin olive oil, avocado, wild salmon, dairy products help fuel the muscles. Carbohydrates are a great source of energy so eating good sources such as cereals, fruits, vegetables, crackers, quinoa, oats etc. Vitamins are also crucial for a healthy diet such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12 which converts food into energy, helps form protein and helps maintain healthy nerve cells. In regards to adding desserts or anything sweet to your diet I would advise to use your common sense but I don’t believe that you should completely forbid yourself from having them. I always have something sweet every single day and of course, unless I eat too much of it, I feel that it actually sometimes helps my performance. Eating some sweet popcorn, a piece of fruit, a small piece of chocolate, a caramel almond bar or something small before my training gives me a boost of energy. I’ve also always had a sweet breakfast with some cereals, a slice of toast with honey or jam and butter, a couple of oats biscuits dipped in my cappuccino etc. What is important I believe is that the portion is small, that you vary your breakfast or your overall diet anyway and that it is always nutritious.
Check out the post "How to lose weight, get toned and feel amazing"
Tips to avoid eating disorders
In this society and especially in the ballet world there’s a lot of pressure of being thin and that can cause some issues particularly in teenagers students. Our culture is obsessed in being slim and toned but as that defines the ideal body type, many ballet companies will not accept you unless you have that. Of course that is slowly changing as more muscular dancer bodies are being accepted in playing even main roles. What is important to understand is that our body in order to perform well needs to be well nourished. Consequences in not doing that would be dizziness, tiredness, muscle loss, brittle bones which will significantly affect our performance. In addition it can also be very dangerous to our health so it is important that we eat well and mindfully but that at the same time we don’t skip meals or starve ourselves. Eating disorders such as Anorexia, Bulimia Nervosa are definitely to be avoided if you want to have a strong, toned and healthy body.
Is there anything that I should add to my diet?
Water is an essential and important part of your diet so it is important to take plenty of it and to keep your body dehydrated. Dancers particularly lose lots of water through perspiration during classes or rehearsal so it is crucial to have a bottle of water with them at all times.
Keeping active, not only during the ballet workout, session and shows, but also during the day everyday. Sitting down for hours, for example at your desk and then workout for example for 4 hours will definitely not give you a ballet body. Of course it is a different story for the professional but if you are serious about your progress and higgered to see results you need to have a balance in your personal life too. For everyone though it is vital to have rest times and active times throughout your day and that will not just give a more toned and strong body but also a healthier one. In order to have the energy to train and keep yourself into shape you have to look after your body and mind first.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and if you need to ask any questions or have any ideas for any future posts please feel free to contact me or leave a comment down below. Also don't forget to Subscribe if you don't want to miss any future posts and have free access to premium content!
Follow me on Pinterest and have free access to lots of exciting Pins!