What cross training are you doing?

October Issue 2021

As dance becomes more athletic; to keep up and keep our bodies safe we need to train like athletes. A style of training that is often used with athletes is cross training and as dancers we can do this too. 

So what is cross training? Cross-training is training in something other than the athlete’s usual sport. The goal is improving overall performance. It takes advantage of the particular effectiveness of one training method to negate the shortcomings of another.

We can take cross training quite literally and use it in the sense that training in many different styles can create a well-rounded performer. Back when I was a child dancer it wasn’t the norm to practice five or more different styles, however these days it’s totally normal for dancers to take part in ballet, tap, modern, contemporary, hip-hop and Acro…and that’s before there even teenagers!

Or, we can go a little deeper into cross training and start using fitness and conditioning methods and classes to benefit our dancing. As long as time is spent well and the classes are taught by a professional who understands how dancers’ bodies are built and what they are required to do; cross training for dancers has lots of benefits. From improved stamina, stability and stronger performances. 

Working closely with my husband Samuel Downing, who is a hybrid strength and conditioning coach for dancers,  I have seen first-hand how cross training can be super beneficial without the concern of negatively impacting the desired body aesthetics that are needed for dance such as bulky legs. People always ask how I can get my dancers so good and I would say it is down to cross training, Samuel makes them strong, their teachers make them versatile and I give them a space for growth mindset and creativity.

Here are a few examples of classes you can take part in to begin cross training to improve your dancing. The best part is many of these can be taken part in at home without even needing to be at the studio. Online training has had a positive impact on dancers’ lives with the ability to be able to add classes from professionals into their schedules from their own homes whenever is suited. 

Pilates: The precise, deliberate movements of Pilates, and emphasis on alignment increase a dancers strength and flexibility without creating bulky muscles.

Yoga: The benefits of yoga are the development of focus, mindfulness regarding breathing, easing tense muscles, and increased flexibility. Yoga is also a renowned stress buster and can be a soothing balance to a dancer’s often intense training regimen.

Resistance Training: and this doesn’t mean bodybuilding! By working with a professional you can enhance your strength to perform dance movements` better. By using weights, resistance bands or even your own body weight. It’s important to remember that any resistance training will only work when combined with great form, this is then safe and effective. 

Swimming: As one of the best whole body workouts, building stamina without strain and used as a rehabilitation therapy for dancers with injuries.

Do remember that any cross training should be done with professional supervision or advice and without turning this into an advert…I’d really check out Samuel Downing PT!


Rosina Andrews

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