As the first day of fall is approaching, you’re probably already in full swing with taking studio classes and daily dancing. While it’s incredible that you’re moving your body in the studio, there are a few things outside of the studio that you can do to make sure you’re performing your best this fall. From keeping your body well-nourished to getting enough steps in throughout the day, check out our 6 best tips for getting in shape this fall dance season.
1) Get those steps in
Taking a walk is one of the best ways to improve your physical and mental health! Did you know that walking 10,000 steps per day can boost your mood and alleviate stress while helping build muscle and promote flexibility?
Walking is an incredible supplemental activity for dancers because it has a low impact on the joints. As dancers, we’re constantly leaping, twirling, and shuffling around. Dance is a high-impact activity, which can cause a lot of stress on our knees, lower back, and ankles.
When you introduce walking into your daily routine as a dancer, you’re not only giving yourself the space for a clear mind, you’re also keeping your muscles warm and active without overdoing it. Aim for taking at least one walk per day at a length of your choice!
2) Stretch your body
The benefits of stretching are endless. From reducing muscle soreness after a hard day of dancing to improving flexibility and reducing the risk of injury–stretching is something that every dancer should be doing.
But how should you be stretching? It’s not always about being the most flexible! It’s about mobility and joint protection too. We always suggest dynamic stretching to increase mobility like controlled leg and arm swings. This kind of stretching requires gentle movement that will help promote blood flow to your muscles, increase your heart rate, and prepare your muscles for high-intensity work. Think more along the lines of Vinyasa Yoga or Pilates, which incorporate breathwork into movement.
If you do want to do a bit of static stretching like sitting in your second split, we always recommend waiting until the end of the day or after your studio classes. Overall, stretching may cause a bit of discomfort but if there’s ever sharp pain–that’s a sign to stop what you’re doing!
Oh, and the perfect time to stretch? Right after your daily walk when the body is already a bit warm 🙂
3) Strengthen your muscles
The age-old tale that weight training will result in a “bulky” build is just a myth. Incorporating body-weight and low-weight training into your routine will only help strengthen your muscles and develop a lean, toned figure. In fact, many of the muscles that dancers need to use on a daily basis can be strengthened with weight training!
The core, lower body, and upper body muscles are used constantly throughout dance training and it’s important to keep these muscles as strong as they can be. Adding exercises like squats, push-ups, calf raises, crunches, planks, and more to your routine will help you engage these muscles while you’re dancing. This means fewer injuries and strain!
We recommend 20-30 minutes of muscle-building exercises every other day or daily if you’re switching off the muscle group you focus on. For example, you can try doing core exercises Mondays and Wednesdays and lower body exercises Tuesdays and Thursdays! You don’t have to spend hours in a gym every day unless you want to. A little strengthening, even just for 10 minutes, can go a long way. During all of these strengthening exercises, you can opt for bodyweight or try adding 5-10 pound weights.
4) Explore cross-training
Move your body in different ways! Cardio-based activities like swimming, biking, and running can help build stamina both inside and outside of the studio. If your body and mind is accustomed to high cardio levels and pushing to the max, you’ll have more energy to finish that final performance of the class combo and give it your all.
5) Take online dance classes
Supplementing your in-studio training with online dance classes is an incredible way to challenge yourself with new choreography and grow as a dancer. Plus, you’ll get the opportunity to work with choreographers from who you otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to take a class. CLI Studios has a library of over 1,000 online dance classes in every level and style–there’s something for every dancer!
6) Rest, hydrate, eat well–repeat!
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again–stay hydrated! Even the slightest bit of dehydration can cause loss of energy and mental focus. Not to mention, muscle fatigue and/or spasms. Try to drink at least 96 to 120 ounces (12 to 15 glasses) of water each day, and add hydrating food like fruit into your diet.
Remember, the need for rest and recovery comes with an active lifestyle. Rest is required for athletes–and as dancers, we are absolutely athletes. Without enough sleep and relaxation the body will begin to break down, causing decreased performance, low energy levels, and risk of injury.