Almost every fitness regime these days has the term ‘cross training’ attached to it, but will it help in your adult ballet class, or is it just something else to fit in to your week?
Cross training is one of the buzz phrases of the fitness industry. It is where a mix of three or more physical activities make up a person’s weekly fitness regime. It could include running, strength training, swimming, yoga, pretty much anything that gives variety in the weekly schedule. This variety, in turn, helps to use all of the muscle groups, rather than stay focused on just one or two.
Cross training is designed to keep people interested in their work out regimes. It helps reduce overuse injuries from the relentless tedium of the same old, same old, and to keep the boredom at bay – something that you will never encounter in a ballet class!
A single ballet class is like doing a full week’s schedule of cross training in an hour and a half! No other form of exercise will engage all of your muscles as completely as a ballet class. You will move slowly with control and balance for adage. You will engage in rapid-fire footwork designed to increase speed and agility. You will leap across the floor learning how to jump higher, with more grace and control than even the best athletes. You will learn how to turn with precision and not get dizzy! Ballet students practice these elements in every class they attend.
Different sports and exercise will target different muscle groups in the body and typically it will be the major muscle groups. This is why cross training becomes necessary, to help your body cope and not become over-worked in one area. The exact nature of ballet technique means that by the end of the class you will discover muscles in your body that you never knew you had! Delivering that technique with elegance, care and an active thought process, means that you will engage your brain as well, which is essential for mental health as well as physical fitness.
Pilates is an add-in for many dancers. But it is more about honing the muscles rather than needing to use different muscles groups. Pilates helps to strengthen ballet muscles and can be a good supplement to the ballet class. Other complementary practices such as yoga can also be useful to assist muscle stretch and strength, but are not necessary for ballet.
No one is going to tell you that gaining extra fitness is bad for you; boosting your health and wellbeing is to be applauded. But to the question of whether cross training is necessary for your adult ballet class? The answer is no! Cross training is not required. A ballet class in itself will provide all the benefits that cross training brings, helping you to gain strength, balance and technical proficiency. The bonus is that it will feed your creativity as well!