One of my dance friends sometimes goes to the gym after leaving the studio. I’ve always just danced—should I be doing more?
If done properly, cross-training certainly won’t hurt your dancing—it can actually help make you stronger and fitter. But that doesn’t mean you should “cool down” from a three-hour rehearsal with a 10-mile run!
As a dancer, it’s unlikely that you need to add additional cardio workouts to your routine. But if you, your teacher, and your doctor agree that it’s best, opt for low-impact workouts such as swimming, cycling (SoulCycle, anyone?), or using the elliptical machine at the gym. These workouts will get your heart rate up without adding unwanted bulk to your muscles. If you enjoy running, go for gentle jogs or interval workouts (running hard for a short amount of time then recovering by running easy, and repeating a few times) in lieu of long runs, which can add unwanted stress to your joints from literally pounding the pavement. And if you can, jog on a soft surface, like a dirt trail, as opposed to concrete or pavement.
If cardio isn’t your jam, seek out a local yoga or Pilates studio, or hit the weight room. Lifting free weights can help tone your muscles, while Pilates and yoga will increase overall strength (especially core strength) and flexibility. Can’t make it to a gym? There are plenty of at-home workouts you can try that require nothing more than your own body weight. Think push-ups, planks, and tricep dips—all of which you can do in your living room during Pretty Little Liars commercial breaks!
The most important thing for you and your gym-going friend is not to overdo it! If you’re serious about dancing, your cross-training should just supplement your studio training, not make you so exhausted that you can’t leap, turn, or make it across the floor without feeling beat or super sore. And as always, seek the advice of your doctor or a certified fitness professional with specific questions.