Top Tips for Keeping in Shape over the Holidays by Lisa Howell

Top Tips for Keeping in Shape over the Holidays by Lisa Howell

How to keep in tip top shape over the holidays!  

ballet-coaching-top-tips-01After a few weeks off over the summer (or winter) break, sometimes it’s a little hard to get back into the swing of things when classes start up. Our technique can get a little rusty, and unfortunately, the beginning of the year is the time of year when many people get injured, due to returning to dance to hard and too fast.
One of the best ways to insure that this is not your fate when you start back next year, is to really focus on improving your strength, flexibility and awareness over the break, and then perfecting your technique in your first few weeks back, before beginning to increase the hours again. If you have been working with me for a while then you will have loads of exercises and ideas to try and today I wanted to give you a little help in organising them to help you through the holiday season, and to arrive back in full form.
Here are a few tips to help organise your program so that you start back in January fully fit and ready for action!
If you have an enormous stack of exercise (from different dance teachers or from me) its a good idea to do the following:

  • Do a brain dump – Write down all of the exercises you have grouped into different sections. Ie: Core, Hips/Turnout, Flexibility, Foot control, Cardio
  • Circle the ones that are most important in each section
  • Draw up a spread sheet with the name of each exercise (in its section) down the side, and days of the week along the top
  • Plan what exercises to do on what days (remembering any other time commitments on different days – such as family parties and travelling times...)

ballet-coaching-top-tips-02When planning a program I often also have a small section that is to be done every day – even if there is no time for anything else, and then plan to alternate days between a “General Program” and a “Focus Program” that changes every 2 weeks .
For example, the first focus program may be on turnout for 2 weeks.
My “Every Day Exercise” may be to do 12 sun salutations with a pigeon pose added into each one, (As in the Front Splits Fast program)
My “General Program” is usually 2 exercises from each group of exercises:

  • Cardio 1 – Mini trampoline for 10 minutes
  • Cardio 2 – Skipping Rope for 10 mins
  • Core 1 – 3 Legged Cat exercises (The Perfect Pointe Book)
  • Core 2 – Bug Legs on the ball (Dance Conditioning)
  • Turnout 1 – Tennis Ball releases (Training Turnout)
  • Turnout 2 – Turnout in Retire (The Perfect Pointe Book)
  • Feet 1 – Foot Massage (The New Perfect Pointe Book)
  • Feet 2 – Single Leg Rises (The Perfect Pointe Book)
  • Flexibility 1 – Sub Occipital Releases (Front Splits Fast)
  • Flexibility 2 – Sun Salutations (Front Splits Fast)

Then on alternate days, I would do all of my turnout exercises:

  • Tennis Ball Releases (Training Turnout)
  • Pretzel Stretch (Training Turnout)
  • Hip flexor Stretches (Front Splits Fast)
  • Turnout in Retire (The Perfect Pointe Book)
  • QF Isolation in Side Lying (Training Turnout)
  • Turnout in Retire with Theraband (Training Turnout)
  • Butterfly Legs (Training Turnout)
  • Piriformis Stretches (The Perfect Pointe Book)
  • Adductor Stretches (The Perfect Pointe Book)

After 2 weeks of focused attention, your turnout should be improving quite a bit, so you can change the focus program to something else... Say... foot control. This way, you can keep working on all areas of the body, while making a conscious effort to improve on one.
I find that this works really well for all my students who are dancing full time and need to keep on top of their exercises, but don’t have very much time each day to dedicate to it. Keeping a well structured and balanced program, and ticking off each exercise as you do it on your spread sheet is a great way to make sure nothing gets missed!
Most of all though, it is important to have some rest from all the jumping around that we do during the year. Keep your heart pumping with regular cardiovascular exercise, and try different flexibility options such as different forms of yoga.

From: Lisa Howell at The Ballet Blog