Here’s what you can do to keep your dance body going strong when you take a well-deserved summer break:
Stay Active!Although it may seem quite appealing to spend your summer vacation lounging away in the sun, it is important to make some time for physical activity. Take a hike, play a rousing game of beach volleyball or partake in an early tennis game. Your physical activity doesn’t need to be boring, but it does need to take place. Cardio during the summer is important for keeping up your endurance so that when you return to the dance studio you aren’t struggling to get through your routines. Whatever you can do to get your heart rate going is a great idea.
If you really want a great aerobic activity during the summer, go swimming! Swimming works all of your major muscle groups, and is just plain enjoyable, especially during those hot summer months. If your summer break will be spent primarily at home, consider getting into a daily workout with a ballet DVD. There are many great DVDs on the market, and they really vary depending on the level of workout you want to achieve. There are also a number of DVDs that allow you to customize the workout to achieve your fitness goals while on summer break, so take advantage of these workouts and customize a ballet routine that best meets your wants and needs.
If you want to work on your barre routine while away from the dance studio, consider focusing on barre work that focuses on your weaknesses. For example, if you struggle with maintaining your balance, make sure you are customizing your barre workout to include plenty of exercises that focus on maintaining balance.
Now is the time to improve your weak points so you can come back from summer break better than ever/
Hitting the gym may be a nice part of your summer routine, but make sure to take it light when it comes to weights. Weights that are too heavy bulk up your muscles instead of keeping them lean, so if you choose weights, choose light weights with longer repetitions over heavier weights with fewer repetitions. Head to an aerobics class, spin class, yoga class or Pilates class, and get the bulk of your workouts done on the cardio equipment, such as the stair climber, treadmill and elliptical machine. If the fitness center has a swimming pool, take advantage of this incredibly effective, full-body workout.
Try a Pilates class.Pilates is great for stretching, building your core, and building lean, elongated muscles. Ask your friends to take a class with you, and make it part of your girls’ day out. Many gyms and fitness centers have a wide array of Pilates classes, from beginners to advanced, so find the one that best suits you and your fitness level and get going this summer. If finding the space or the time to work out this summer is making you anxious, throw a Theraband into your suitcase and get your exercises done, wherever and whenever, even on the hotel room floor.
There are many great Theraband exercises that will keep you limber and many that will challenge your leg and core muscles. A DVD of Theraband exercises is always a good idea, and there are many videos on the Internet that can walk you through Theraband exercises to keep your ballet body strong and limber. In addition, if you intend on preparing for pointe work when you return from summer vacation, make sure to include Theraband exercises that strengthen the muscles of your feet.
Remember Good NutritionRemember that staying healthy and keeping your body in good shape during the summer includes eating right, sleeping well and staying hydrated. During the summer, it can be quite easy to become dehydrated, which leads to a loss of muscle tone, a loss of energy and a loss of concentration. Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks that are loaded with useless calories. Eat plenty of seasonal fruits and vegetables, and enjoy lean protein on the grill. Even though you may want to stay out late and play, remember the importance of a well-rested body and aim to get a solid eight hours every night. Take it easy on the alcohol, and avoid calorie-laden mixed drinks.
More than 70% of our body is made up of water. Adequate hydration is essential for proper muscle functioning and energy metabolism, and this is particularly important in the summer heat. Drink 2 liters of water each day. In addition, drink sufficient fluids during exercise to replace the water you are losing to sweat.
Use Summer Break Time to Car for Existing Injuries.If you were not able to take enough of a break during the year in order to let your injuries fully heal, now is the time — before the problem becomes recurrent. Follow the R.I.C.E. protocol — Rest (from the aggravating activity), Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Note that while you are resting from activities that aggravate your injury, it is still important to keep up your overall strength and endurance in any way that you can so as to prevent de-conditioning. Know when to get the help that you need. Seek professional care when you are in extreme pain, or if you have pain that persists for more than 2 days.
These basic tips for being a “healthy dancer” not only apply during the summer, but are an excellent strategy for preventing injury the whole year round. Take a day or two every week to put on your dance shoes and perform barre work or exercises to keep your feet strong. If you have the time to hit the dance studio every once in a while during the summer, take advantage of these opportunities to stay in shape. Stay active, take care and enjoy your summer.