It’s crucial, especially for dancers, to tone those inner thighs. “The inner thigh, like any upper leg area, helps stabilize the knee joint,” says dancer, personal trainer and group fitness instructor Deborah Horton. “Having strong inner thighs will help with that rotation.” And you don’t need a bulky piece of equipment to get your legs whipped into shape. Try these no-fuss exercises, created by Horton exclusively for you!
The Best Stretches You’re Not Doing
If your idea of stretching is sitting in a split for five minutes while you watch TV, it’s time to revamp your routine. Next time, try these dynamic exercises. “They target areas that counteract what you do when you dance,” says Brynn Jinnett, a former dancer with New York City Ballet and the founder and creator of Refine Method in NYC. “Think turn in, not turnout.”
When it comes time to perform, you can’t wait to be onstage. But preparing for a show takes more than doing your hair and makeup. Your muscles need to be warm or you’ll risk getting injured—and a warm-up isn’t just a quick stretch or two. What does a good pre-performance routine entail? Click here to find out!
Shape Up Like the Stars
At DS we spend our days fawning over Lauren Froderman’s fabulous legs, Ashly Costa’s impressive abs and Maud Arnold’s awesome curves—so naturally we wanted to know how these pros stay in such great shape. Turns out, they work hard to maintain their totally toned bodies. But they’ve also found ways to keep fitness fun. So what are their go-to exercises for feeling good and looking great? Read on!
No More Knee Pain!
You spend your days jumping, leaping, bending, twisting and generally putting a ton of stress on your knees. But be kind to them—they’re two of your most important body parts! One of the best ways to avoid knee pain is to strengthen the muscles surrounding your kneecaps. “These exercises will help improve your alignment, which is essential for knee health,” says DS fitness consultant Michelle Rodriguez, founder of Manhattan Physio Group in NYC. Click here to get started!
The 7 Best Moves For Your Dancer Bod
If you’re traveling and can’t make it to a dance class—or even to the hotel gym—that doesn’t mean you have to skip your workout. DS asked four fitness pros who specialize in dance for their favorite dancer-specific exercises. These moves will keep you toned all over, and none of them require any props or equipment. Happy sweating! Click here to get started!
Tone Up Your Muffin Top
Love handles, muffin top—call it whatever you want, but we all hate that extra stuff that hangs over the elastic on our tights, right? While the best thing you can do to slim your sides is to adjust your diet (more veggies, fewer brownies!) and add cardiovascular activity to your weekly workouts, there are also some toning techniques that will make those tights more comfortable. Click here to get started!
The Dos and Don’ts of Cross-Training
Cross-training is a hot topic. What should you do? What shouldn’t you do? Exercising outside the studio can improve your overall fitness, but be careful to pick workouts that will benefit your dancing without building bulky muscles or putting you at risk for injury. Click here to see what kinds of cross-training experts recommend for dancers.
So you think doing squats and lunges will give you a big butt? False! These exercises—plus other moves targeting your gluteus and hamstring muscles—will actually help strengthen and tone your rear, not plump it up. Brynn Jinnett, a former New York City Ballet dancer and creator of the Refine Method, developed this series of exercises specifically for dancers on the go. The moves are simple yet effective. And the results? Increased strength throughout these muscle groups will improve your jumps and turns, and you’ll look smokin’ in whatever costume your teacher throws your way this season! Click here to get started!
Push-ups. Ugh. Does anyone actually enjoy this notoriously difficult move? Maybe not, but push-ups are a crucial upper-body–building exercise. We promise push-ups won’t bulk you up—but they will seriously tone your core, shoulders, back and arms. And they don’t have to be impossible! Here are four variations on the basic push-up. Start with the first, easiest level and do as many reps as you can, whether it’s two or 12. Each day aim to do one or two more than the day before. Click here to get started!
Looking for a mat exercise that will strengthen and tone you all over? Add a plank (or seven!) to your workout routine. This move—a favorite among yoga and fitness instructors—fortifies your abs and upper body while stabilizing your spine. According to certified personal trainer Jamie Dowd, the weight-bearing aspect of a plank means that it also builds bone density, which helps prevent fractures. Here, Dowd tells you how to execute a standard plank and shares ways to modify the exercise to target different body parts. Click here to get started!
Dance Team Body Blast
The Knicks City Dancers aren’t just pretty girls with great physiques—they’re dancer-athletes who have to perform multiple high-energy routines back-to-back. Their custom boot-camp workout featuring a combination of calisthenics, plyometrics and strength-training exercises builds stamina and roots out physical weaknesses. Tyler Woodman, a personal trainer from Club-H in Hoboken, NJ, who created the KCD boot camp, crafted a mini version of the program for DS. He suggests starting with a 10-15 minute warmup filled with basic dynamic movements to get your heart rate up. Then perform the exercises here as fast as you can while maintaining your form. As soon as you finish, turn on some music and perform a couple of your favorite dance routines. In time, you’ll build up enough strength and endurance to do multiple sets of exercises and dances with minimal resting periods in between. Click here to get started!
Want more from your core? Last month, former dancer and fitness instructor Bethany Lyons shared Power Yoga moves designed to help improve your balance. Now, she’s back with three Power Yoga-based core-strengthening exercises. Lyons says they’re an effective ab workout because they require you to work multiple muscles at once, unlike crunches, which only work your rectus abdominus. She suggests doing these exercises four or five times per week for the best results. Click here to get started!
Looking for a way to improve your balance while simultaneously strengthening and stretching? Power Yoga—a hybrid technique that draws from various traditional yoga forms, including Vinyasa and Hatha—may be for you. According to Power Yoga instructor Bethany Lyons, the method focuses on improving alignment and building strength but also has a therapeutic element. Lyons, a former dancer, says Power Yoga is great cross-training for dancers because it forces you to work in parallel (we’re so used to being turned out!), and it helps you better coordinate breath and movement. Here, Lyons shares two moves that will improve your balance. Click here to get started!
Have A Ball
Pilates on its own is a great way to build strength, but adding a stability ball into the mix can make your workout even more challenging—and fun. Here, Erica Essner, a dancer and Pilates method instructor who teaches a stability ball class at Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, NY, shares two of her favorite moves. Each one works a variety of muscles simultaneously and helps build strength and flexibility. Click here to get started!
Pump Up Your Jumps
Wish you could leap higher, farther and with more control? Try incorporating plyometrics into your workout. This method, favored by athletes of all kinds, teaches your muscles to recoil and contract faster and with more force. Here are three moves to get you started. Click here to get started!
Working Out With The Stars
Have you ever wondered how contemporary ballet queen Drew Jacoby got her lithe legs or commercial diva Comfort Fedoke chiseled her arms? DS asked a few pros with particularly toned physiques for their fitness secrets and go-to moves. Read on—and then get moving! Click here to get started!
360 Degree Strength
Dancers have to move their bodies in all directions, but most strength training exercises only require you to move along one plane at a time. For a more dance-friendly workout, try using proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF), a technique favored by athletic and dance instructors because it improves your range of motion by simultaneously strengthening muscles and improving their flexibility. According to Leigh Heflin, MSc, the PNF Diagonal (shown here with different versions for guys and girls) targets your obliques and shoulders and teaches you how to maintain torso alignment while working your port de bras or lifting a partner overhead. Click here to get started!
Want to tone your entire body? Try working out with a kettlebell. Unlike a conventional free-weight, the kettlebell’s center of gravity, and the bulk of its weight, is outside your hand. To get it moving and absorb its impact, more muscles need to fire. This increases the calories you burn as you tone. Here are a few exercises to get you started. Click here to get started!
Ready To Roll
A foam roller is a versatile, inexpensive tool that can be used for more than just rehab and stretching—it’s great for strength training as well. Dance Spirit asked certified personal trainer Jamie Dowd to come up with a few moves to help you roll your way to a stronger body. Click here to get started!
Many dancers don’t realize that there’s much more to your core than just your abs. Your back and side muscles play an equally important role in giving you the strength and posture you need to support your entire body as you dance. Here, body conditioning specialist Clarice Marshall shares a collection of back exercises designed to round out your core work. These moves wake up your deep stabilizing muscles first and then gradually incorporate the ones closer to the surface. Click here to get started!
These exercises from body conditioning specialist Clarice Marshall challenge your abs from the inside out. Marshall says the first two moves stimulate your “deep stabilizing muscles,” which include your transversus abdominis, while the other moves incorporate muscle layers closer to the surface, like your obliques and rectus abdominus. Click here to get started!
Upper Body Builders
Want to improve your port de bras? Building up your upper body will make it easier for you to hold your arms in position while you dance. These exercises will lengthen and strengthen the muscles in your chest, shoulders and arms. Click here to get started!
LB Kass’ Dance-Team-Inspired Program
This high-energy routine is great for dancers who want to tone their entire bodies and get a cardio workout at the same time. Danzenergy combines yoga and ballet and adds a dance team twist to build all-over strength and control. Click here to get started!
Every dancer needs strong, flexible and articulate feet, so Dance Spirit reached out to body-conditioning specialist Clarice Marshall to get the scoop on a few moves that will help you put your best feet forward. According to Marshall, these exercises are great for dancers who want to increase foot strength and alignment with the lower leg. She says they’ll moves will also help dancers recover from having their feet constrained by shoes and will help get feet in better shape for landing jumps and leaps. Click here to get started!
His & Hers Exercises
Want to work muscles all over your body? Try an airplane with a single-leg squat. This exercise will help both guys and girls improve balance while toning outer thigh, hip, arm and chest muscles. Slight modifications will yield gender-specific benefits. If you’re a girl, use hand weights to strengthen your port de bras and to build up muscle endurance. If you’re a guy, use a weighted medicine ball to mimic how you’ll be moving when you’re lifting a partner. Click here to get started!
Hip and Shoulder Openers
Tight hips and shoulders can hinder a dancer’s range of motion and cause injuries. Here, yoga instructor Megan Walsh shares a routine designed to help you open up the muscles in these important joints. Hold each pose for three seconds before transitioning to the next. Click here to get started!