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Take your strength and technique to the next level by creating a cross-training program.
On the cover:
Crosstraining is training in two or more sports in order to improve fitness and performance, especially in a main sport. Featured bellydancer is Sonia Ochoa in China. (Link) ©2016 Aaron Stipkovich
Creating a strong and sound mind and body
Yoga is one of the most well-known cross-training methods for dancers. Many yoga poses target muscle groups dancers use often and allow for gentle activation for strength and recovery. Yoga is an effective way to build core and back strength, especially for those suffering from injuries and other medical issues. Most dancers use yoga in combination with dance practice as a warm-up or cool down; many often take classes regularly to supplement their practice and rejuvenate sore muscles. Well-being of the mind and body is emphasized and is an added benefit to the physical aspects of yoga.
Core strength is also crucial to dancers; a strong core encompasses more than simple ab exercises and movements, incorporation of the back and lower body ensures a strong and balanced core. Pilates is one of the best ways to develop and maintain a strong core and posture. Most dancers of any style use Pilates regularly to strengthen and tone core muscles groups. Pilates is growing in popularity and many different variations and classes are held worldwide.
Dancers who practice and perform regularly need a strong cardiovascular system to excel in any kind of dance. Cardiovascular health is beneficial to everyone and cardiovascular exercise (cardio) is recommended to stay healthy and fight disease. Biking, swimming, running, hiking; there are dozens of options. Recent research indicates that short, intense bouts of cardio or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are a good way for dancers to build strength and stamina while preserving precious muscle. HIIT programs use a variety of different machines and body-weight exercises and can be performed virtually anywhere for free. Experts do recommend caution when running, it can wear on the joints and ligaments and cause injury over time.
Strength training is a relatively new cross-training method, many dancers fear injury and bulky muscles and therefore stay away from strength-training programs. Strength training, when using proper form and a program that suits individuals needs, strengthens muscles and helps build healthy bones. Lifting weights challenges your muscles and body in ways that body-weight exercises cannot and excellent for strengthening areas prone to injury. Weight lifting also increases stability, core strength, mental well-being, muscle tone, and fat loss. Dancers interested in adopting a weight-lifting program should speak to an expert.
Developing a cross-training regimen will accelerate your technique, strength, and expand your knowledge about how the body works and how to move safely. Don’t forget when starting any kind of exercise program to consult your doctor about any health concerns you may have. Make sure you eat, drink, and rest enough to power through your program!
Bre Stangel, Contributor: Dance is passion, I found mine a tiny studio at a Senior Center in Vermont. American Tribal Style classes opened my mind to the beautiful world of belly dance. Soon, I was eating up every dance class and workshop within my reach and budget. I studied intensely, daily practice, yoga, drills, and performances whenever and wherever possible. I co-directed and award-winning dance duo and found myself performing across the North East. When I moved across the state for college; I took dance with me... (more...)