The boutique fitness craze has swept cities and
Instagram accounts, and though you may not
be interested in underwater cycling or trampoline yoga, some of these trendy classes have
major benefits as cross-training. While they
aren’t targeted specifically to dancers, you can
use these pro tips to make sure your approach
will pay off in the studio.
Who should do it: The purpose of cross-training is to challenge your body in new
ways. So a barre
class—which is loosely
modeled on a ballet
sense for someone
taking ballet regularly,
but it might be perfect
for a tap or jazz dancer,
or a ballet dancer during layoff, says Megan
Richardson, an athletic trainer at New York
University Langone’s Harkness Center for
Pro tips: Barre classes often use a different
range of motion than ballet classes, so take the
opportunity to develop other muscles, says
Alicia Ferriere, DPT, of Finish Line Physical Therapy. Let up if anything feels like it’s
Who should do it: Anyone who wants to
build upper-extremity stability, says Richardson. You’ll learn to
use muscles in a quick,
forceful way, and work
on functional core
Pro tips: Make sure
you’re in control of
your mobility. Because
dancers tend to have flexible shoulders, your
instructor should show you how to work
from your shoulder, back and core muscles,
session or a small class for your first time, and
avoid classes where you fight other students
Who should do it: Dancers working on
building stamina—especially for short, powerful bursts like petit
Pro tips: Look for
studios with bikes
that allow your shoes
to clip in. According
to Richardson, having your foot secured
to the pedal will help you activate your hamstrings, rather than just your quads. Sit back
on the widest part of the saddle and make
sure your seat is at the correct height—if your
knees are coming up too far, your hip flexors
will take over. Many studios use metrics that
allow you to compete against classmates—just
make sure this doesn’t push you to overdo it.
CROSSFIT-ST YLE WORKOUTS
Who should do it: Richardson suggests these
classes for dancers looking to build partnering
strength, since you
often learn how to lift
Pro tips: When done
with poor form,
maxing out on weight
and repetitions and
locking into hyperex-tended joints can put you at risk for ligament
injury. Ferriere recommends taking classes
taught at a slower pace and using lighter
weights when learning new movements.
Who should do it: Dancers looking to build
cardio, improve back strength and work upper-body muscles they normally wouldn’t activate.
Pro tips: There’s a
risk for lower back
and neck injury,
says Ferriere, so be
sure your legs are
doing the work and
that you’re pushing through your heels. Don’t flex too far
forward—it shouldn’t feel like a hamstring
stretch—and stay neutral in your pelvis. Take
a beginner class your first time to learn the
Who should do it: Anyone looking to build
core strength, and to find length and strength
in more challenging positions. Richardson
calls classes like SLT (Strengthen Lengthen
Tone) and ChaiseFitness “Pilates on steroids,”
since they incorporate machinery to intensify
classic Pilates exercises.
Pro tips: “The person who is instructing you
really needs to be savvy about where you need
to be activating,” says Richardson. “You need
to be using the deep core muscles that are
often weak in dancers.” n
Trying a New Workout?
• find small classes, even if that means
going at off-peak times.
• tell the instructor that you’re new.
• use light weights, especially for fast reps.
• ask for clarification and modifications.
• give 100 percent—you don’t know how
your body will respond.
• try to tackle movements that haven’t
been demonstrated clearly.
• replace movements with ones you
know—a weighted squat is very different
from a plié.
Boutique fitness classes are popular—but
are they right for your cross-training?
BY LAUREN WINGENROTH