The off-season is equal parts glorious and anxiety inducing.
The glorious part is the rest. The beautiful moments with family + friends, plus a change of scenery if I’m able to travel, make my heart so happy.
The anxiety inducing part is the ballerina who lives in the back of my mind at all times and knows that any periods of rest come with consequences. For me, rest is no longer a complete vacation from exercise. Rest means that I keep moving, but gently. I decrease the intensity of the work. Slowly but surely, I prepare my body to go back into the studio with as little pain as possible.
A ballet body is incredibly fine tuned— it is adjusted to the demands you put on it, and anytime that you step away from that work, there’s a lot of work on the other side that will need to happen to get your body re-adjusted to the demands of professional ballet.
Here are just a few of ballet’s unique demands that surpass anything + everything I do teaching a SteeleSculpt class:
1. Functional range of motion is HUGE in ballet— back arches to the max, hips rotate to the max, ankles bend and stretch to the max.
2. Gaining strength + stability in those extreme positions— for example, not just being able to kick your leg very high, but being able to HOLD it there with your muscles alone.
3. Pointe work— unfortunately Pilates and bodyweight conditioning doesn’t do much intrinsic foot + ankle strength. With my chronic ankle injury, whenever I neglect pointe work, I lose strength in my feet, it’s quite painful trying to gain it back. I either need to continue doing ballet barre + pointe barres to maintain it, or do a LOT of resistance band/Theraband work.
*DISCLAIMER: This is what I’ve learned from my personal experience. I know some dancers that can spend every single day of their off-season on the beach + return to work in the studio without missing a beat. Every body is different.*-
To give you all a better idea, here’s an example of my schedule during the off-season. A lot of the work I do for SteeleSculpt is mixed in here! Keep in mind that this is a rough outline, and doesn’t get adhered to exactly each day of the week. But overall, this is a pretty standard layout what my weekly activity level is like:
Sunday: Teaching Sunday Burn.
Monday: Ballet barre + pointe barre, plus a 30 minute lower body circuit with resistance (using kettlebells or dumbbells).
Tuesday: Filming a class for on-demand + walking/swimming/low-impact cardio.
Wednesday: Teaching Express Burn, ballet barre + pointe barre, then 30 minute lower body circuit with resistance.
Thursday: Scolio-Pilates with Suzanne + recovery routine like stretching, ice/heat, self-massage, etc.
Friday: Ballet barre + pointe barre, then 30 minute lower body circuit with resistance.
Saturday: Teaching Abs for Breakfast + walking/swimming/low-impact cardio.
Another MASSIVELY IMPORTANT note here— nutrition + recovery are just as important during the off-season as they are during the season. You can work your body into the ground, but if you’re not fueling yourself properly and taking steps to decompress, some of your work goes down the drain! If you’re in the DC area, check out Serki and her team at HighKey Balance Studio in the Dupont Circle area. She offers cryotherapy, infared sauna, compression, cupping, and massage therapy for when you’re feeling burned out.