Fitness for Dancers & Gymnasts
This week we’re giving you a round-up of exercise classes that are inspired by dance, and some that work on core principles of dance that can really help you with your moves. As we uncovered last week, flexibility and strength are amongst the most important qualities that a dancer and gymnast requires. If you’re looking to further improve these vital characteristics, but want to branch outside of dance and gym class, then look no further! Here is a list of what we think are some fitness classes you’ll love, whether you’re a professional or amateur dancer, or can’t even move to a beat but love dance!
What exercises classes are good for dancers?
Budding ballerinas worldwide who could never make it to the barre to learn ballet have for years been able to get a little taste of what the classical dance is all about through barre fitness. Even if you’re a complete novice at ballet, barre fitness classes enlighten the go-ers on the core strength and dance principles of ballet. Feel like a ballerina whilst you plié squat at the barre and bicep curl your arms up to fifth position with a light weight. See the subtle differences between barre fitness and ballet? Barre fitness workouts often use ballet poses and movements yet add an extra fitness level with light weights or repetitions. There are tonnes of different ways to workout at the barre, but a trademark one that you’ve probably heard of is barre core.
What is Barrecore?
Barrecore is all about low impact, high intensity exercise through isometric movements set to invigorating music. There are different types of Barrecore classes that you can attend, so choose a low difficulty one for your first time. The classes combine elements of yoga, pilates, and ballet to work on core strength and balance. It’s popular globally with dancers, non-dancers and many celebrities (think Rita Ora and Millie Mackintosh). The aim is to engage your deepest muscles to hold poses and really work on your core, which in turn will leave you with a toned physique if you attend regularly. Barrecore “sculpt” classes incorporate resistance bands to reach a greater muscle burn and further push the limits of your muscles. A few of us at Move HQ attend Barrecore regularly and love feeling like a prima ballerina afterwards! Check out this official Barrecore preview clip.
You can find out more about Barrecore next week when we release our interview with a Barrecore instructor.
We can’t repeat this enough - it’s so important for any dancer or gymnast to have a strong core! Of course, it’s not purely about looking good, even though those toned tummy muscles do leave the rest of us feeling a bit like a pancake! Having toned upper and lower abs helps a dancer to pull their centre in for tighter and more secure poses. You don’t have to be a ballet dancer to work on your core and posture; any dancer and gymnast will benefit from having precise control of their core strength. Abs classes aren’t dance-based, and you’ll probably spend the majority of time doing mat-based floor exercises. You will, however, workout to music and improve your core stability, and we’re sure you’ll notice the benefits from ab workouts when you’re dancing.
Do you love going out but don’t get enough time to hit the club anymore? Clubbercise let’s you get your night-out dancing fix in an exercise setting, which means it’s actually OK to sweat in the “club” for a change! Armed with LED glow sticks, you’ll dance and combat your way to a more toned body whilst having carefree fun in the dark. You’re lead by an instructor who offers you high or low impact choreography to follow, who will encourage you to use your maximum energy. If normal dance class is too restricted for you sometimes, try clubbercise for an exhilarating dance workout set to club anthems from the 90’s to now.
Zumba fitness is high energy aerobic dancing that spread like a Mexican wave across the globe. Originally inspired by Latin American dancing and music, Zumba classes now offer multiple styles of dance and music to get your sweat on and boost your cardiovascular fitness. Zumba STRONG is their newest innovation that’s a high intensity workout with plyometric training. It’s different to Zumba fitness as there’s less dancing and more muscle conditioning moves (think squats and burpees), but it’s all still set like a dance routine to the trademark Zumba music that we all know and love.
Yoga & pilates
Yoga and pilates classes are great supplementary training methods for dancers. They’ll help you work on balance and alignment through drawing in your core, and flexibility through controlled movements. Of course, yoga and pilates are very different from each other, but they share the same principles that benefit a dancer. Flexibility and knowing how to stretch are particularly important for dancers, and ensuring the proper warming down stretching after class can even help to prevent injury. Mat-based work may seem like a step down from the intensity you’re used to in dance, but don’t be fooled because you’ll still leave class sweaty and feeling exercised.
Pole has had a bad rap over the years, but an interest in pole dancing and pole fitness is in its highs now. The BBC and other major global news organisations kicked off our excitement back in October 2017 by publicisng the fact that the Global Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF) now recognise pole as a sport which highlights the athleticism and strength that pole requires. Of course, we’ve always supported pole fitness because of its core principles that are the foundations of most dance styles - flexibility and strength. The increase in popularity of pole fitness means it’s now easier than ever to find a local class. Pole fitness encourages you to use your own body as a resistant weight instead of free-weights to improve upper body and core strength. It can help to be a muscle-building step before trying pole dancing or gymnastics, but is also a fantastic way to keep fit for any sport and dance style.
Online & VR workouts
You certainly don’t have to leave your home to get a good workout in! There are tonnes of dance fitness workout programmes online that will help you work up a sweat and strengthen those muscles for dance. Online dance fitness classes are a quick and convenient way to do some exercise in whatever free time you have - even five minutes is better than nothing! Use Youtube to search for the kind of workout you fancy - you’ll find that there are plenty of free classes available to you that made it onto our above list!
Try a free 10 minute Barrecore workout >
Learn new Zumba choreography from your living room >
If you’re happy to pay a little for your online fitness, video workout subscriptions to places like Physique57, Ballet Beautiful and Movement for Modern Life are amongst our favourites.
At any class, it’s important to know your limits and your own pace. A good instructor should encourage you to maintain a certain rhythm but also respect that a mixed ability or age class will workout differently. If you’re working out at home, it’s important that you listen to your body and work out safely.
Feature image is an original photo by Fit Approach.