Today's Flashback Friday post is one I have been waiting anxiously to share for a long time. It's funny because since we've opened our studio in May and have seen countless new faces, the age-old question that I have gotten over the past few years has increased tenfold.
"What was your body like in high school/what was your body like when you were dancing full-time?"
My answer has been the same over the years, since we revamped the allongee curriculum to include more work from our CardioBarreBands and more of our CardioBarreSculpting phrases...
"Nothing like it is now."
I would have never thought it possible, but it's so true it's not even funny. Yes, you can see all or most of my ribs but you can also see my ridiculous abs displaying themselves as an 8-pack, my biceps and triceps which are definitely ever present; you can see the definition between my illiotibial band and my gluteus maximus muscles (we take pride in these allongee BUNS). I can wear 3'' heels on the worst walk home after sloshing back a few cocktails (don't forget to live a little, ladies!) and I don't have to worry for a second that my ankles will roll out and I will fall and break my face as the final culmination to my night...
A large part of the reason I had opted to continue dancing past high school and professionally (other than loving it, of course) was because I could not fathom what would happen to my body without the rigorous daily exercise that it had been so used to over the past decade. My last two years of high school were filled with dance credits- I danced for 4 of the 6.5 hours per day. I didn't have a "lunch period"; instead I went to dance class.
When my professional life in dance was beginning, I was fortunate enough to perform side by side with the Principal dancers, soloists, and core members of the New York City Ballet. These dancers , and any members of any regional ballet company in the country and even internationally, are experts in their field: they've spent countless years perfecting the way in which they use their bodies, and the struggle never ends.
This was the first time that I witnessed the beauty of ballet and it's training process, but also the first time my eyes were opened to something else: dancers are athletic, yes, but their stamina is disgraceful. Cross training is not something that we dancers generally love; when you spend 6-8 hours per day in pointe shoes, your time off becomes just that.
The lack of stamina is something that really becomes an issue. Imagine this beautiful soloist performing her 2 minute variation; she nails everything- BRAVO! You see her take her bow and as she raises her arms to 5th position it becomes ever-apparent that the giant rising and sinking of her chest is nothing more than hyperventilation. She did a 2 minute dance and she's completely out of breath!
But how is this even possible? How can these beautiful athletes have such poor cardiovascular endurance?
It all lies in the structure of the training. Dance is stop and go- you learn a combination, you do it with your group, you wait while other groups do said combination; we all stop to learn the next combination and class rolls on. A 2 hour technique class, and your heart rate barely raises above 120bpm, and NEVER for more than 2 minutes at a time.
Well, eventually I found myself in an Anatomy and Kinesiology class for Dancers in undergrad. I was already running the first generation version of these classes as "bodyLOGIC" classes; they were much more like a pilates class. Then I realized we were doing it all wrong; the cardio is such an important part. Your body will NOT reshape without it, but rather will simply build muscle atop what's already there. Not to mention, you're not working those cardiac muscles at all. Cardiac muscle builds similarly to any other muscle in the body. We use it, it gets stronger. We were missing half the core components of a good workout.. UH-OH & No Thank You!
At allongee, we fire those small muscle groups, but we use a large range of motion and we do it quickly. We get the heart rate up, and we keep it up so that we can BURN more calories and fat, and thus see better results in faster time!
Our space was created by a dancer. Our instructors are life-long fitness enthusiasts with backgrounds in dance and medicine, countless fitness and wellness certifications, and a plethora of experience dealing with their bodies and the bodies of their students. Our floors are sub-floored and sprung, so all those jumps and impact activities are safe (most studios have floors laid directly upon concrete, where you would be better off going for a run outside on the sidewalk. YES, I said it because it's true.) Everything that we do, have done, and offer are all truly for the benefit of our students. Your body is the most important instrument. Let's start treating it that way!
There are plenty of testimonials upcoming on here, but here is my own:
I'm 15 pounds lighter than I was the last time I was dancing full-time, but I am also 100% healthier and stronger. I can go months without taking a ballet class, show up one morning to a class filled with dancers who have been training day in and day out prepping for auditions, and I totally KILL it. Oh, and a nightly burger and nice dark beer probably helps my ballet technique immensely (please, enjoy the below grossly casual photo of me, probably post-allongee by the looks of it).
I went from worrying about what NOT to eat and crying about it all the time to literally eating everything in sight. Yes, I teach a lot of classes; if you're going to work out like a total badass, well then you definitely have to nourish it like a badass. My testimonial is really no different from those of you ladies that take class with us every day, seriously! If you've gotten started at allongee recently, ask around. There are so many success stories, my heart is full; I can't wait to share with you over the next few weeks!