When dancing full time, cross training is always the question as to what will properly compliment and keep your body healthy and balanced, in addition to all of the repetition of dance. When you are then retired, the question becomes not only how to maintain a fit body, but also how to fill the physical, spiritual and intellectual void that is left when you are no longer dancing every day. I can tell you from experience, this is a legitimate challenge.
When I was dancing every day, I did not cross train much, and I wish I had. After I “retired”, I was trying a variety of ways to stay fit and happy, (I am not fun to be around when I am not exercising regularly), and also something that might fit into my schedule/be flexible in terms of times classes were offered.
My search concluded with three favorite ways to exercise regularly, (I work out 3-5 days a week), and I am going to share them with you.
The first is Core Power Yoga. This is by far the most diverse and flexible schedule given the number of locations here in Chicago, and also the practice that gives me the closest to a full body, mind and spiritual workout I desire and quite frankly, need. I also love the way these classes shape and sculpt my body, not bulky, but long and lean muscle. I generally do the sculpt classes and the Hot Power Fusion class or, HPF. All classes are heated and I am going to be honest… if you do not like to sweat and/or don’t like the heat you will NOT like these workouts.
-Sculpt is a work out with weights that is infused with yoga. I use only 3 or 5 pound weights, but you can use much more than that if you desire more muscle mass. You utilize basic yoga poses while doing many reps of various arm and body movements, cardio and also chaturanga… lots of them. There is, however, a spiritual element to this class that takes it out of the realm of your average “work out”. Often times the leader of the class will set an intention, or encourages you to set one of your own, and the class always ends with a shavasana and a little “namaste” as a finish to the practice.
-HPF (Hot Power Fusion) is the hottest of the classes offered at Core Power and is a set series, pretty much the same each time, and is a yoga practice with a great flow. Some classes flow more than other classes, depending on the teacher, and it has a strong spiritual element to it. Less physical (still very physical), and there are no weights, unlike a sculpt class. I find this to be as much training for my mind as my body, and this has helped my state of mind immensely in terms of how I can handle challenges in my daily life, how I relate to the world and my daily mental health . The C1 and C2 classes are less hot than HPF and are not set yoga series, but are still a great work out.
My next favorite way to work out is Gyrotonic, and honestly, this is the one that I wish I had researched and learned about while I was still dancing full time because it basically changed my life. The ways gyrotonic teaches you how to find and use the placement of the pelvic area to access a proper and functional core is entirely applicable to dance and really, entirely game changing for any dancer in my opinion. I often tell people that if you want to get a “leg up” literally and figuratively, definitely invest in some gyrotonic private lessons. For further information refer to my “guy” in Chicago:
Charles Cutler of Jackknife Fitness located at River West Fitness Studio, 664 W. Hubbard St. in Chicago. He works by appointment only and can be reached directly at [email protected].
Lastly, but definitely not least, is Barry’s Bootcamp. Barry’s Bootcamp has recently joined the Chicago fit movement with 2 locations and there are rumors that a third is on its way. Circuit training similar to Orange Theory or other fitness establishments of the current time, Barry’s only utilizes two “circuits”, being treadmill and floor, and boasts super enthusiastic leaders and a sexy, chic and super cool “scene” as your atmosphere. You can go on core day, butt/legs day, chest/back day or full body day. I love the work out my body gets from this as well as how my body looks when I am doing it 1-2 times/week and I LOVE the vibe. I highly recommend this work out, particularly Andrew Key’s class at River North or Lincoln Park locations.
I am always looking for new and exciting ways to work out and I am looking forward to trying “I Love Kickboxing” and also the “F45 Functional Training” when it opens in Chicago. If you have thoughts on work outs I should try, would like info, have a suggestion for a blog, or have a comment to share with me, feel free to message me by using the “CONTACT ME!” button.