Health and Fitness

Studio Pilates Performance Series: Dancing

Improve your strength, power, balance + flexibility

A dancer requires a physically confident, technically sound and artistically equipped physique to meet the demands and expectations of their repertoire. Pilates has long been a preferred form of training for dancers, targeting specific areas that not only support technique and strength, but that aid in injury prevention. Studio Pilates delivers intense, 40 minute workouts on Pilates reformers in a small group environment that feels more like a personal training session, with our world class instructors modifying your moves for maximum gain.

Like dancing, Pilates is a whole-body workout, focusing on strength, mobility, endurance, body alignment and breath control. Each class is scientifically designed by physiotherapists, to ensure safe and considered movements sequenced in a particular way to give you the results you want, fast! We work your body on all planes of movement – sitting, lying and standing – so that the muscles are worked from many different directions, producing a uniform and very deep strength and tone, without using heavy weights.

A dancer’s body is faced with the stresses of being flexible, while needing the strength to be able to balance out and control that suppleness. It requires the ability to move to swift and intense choreography or with slow and lyrical movements, displaying great control, poise and composure. Among the many rewards of cross training with Pilates are enhanced endurance, the correction of muscle imbalances, strength, improved balance and efficient muscle recovery.

 

Performance benefits

Core: A strong core is the anchor of a dancer’s technique and the foundation of movement. It helps the body better deal with the constant impact of dance, as the power source shifts to the centre or ‘powerhouse’ of the body, aiding in the successful execution of choreography and performance, and decreased risk of injury. Pilates has a significant focus on the transverse abdominis (TA), an integral part of the abdominal wall. In conjunction with the obliques and rectus abdominus, the TA greatly supports the spine, in particular the lower back.

Postural alignment and muscular balance: Pilates heightens body awareness, improves balance and symmetry and develops strong and functional posture. It strengthens correct muscle activation, and trains for accurate distribution of weight placement, both necessary for gaining a high degree of physical coordination and an ability to express choreography and repertoire in precise terms.

Pelvic stability: Our pelvis is our centre of gravity and is an important area from which to base our strength, flexibility and range of movement. The stability of the pelvis, and correct alignment of the body, help minimise exertion and stress on the body while dancing as well as reducing the risk of injury. Muscle conditioning: Pilates is an ideal form of complete body conditioning, as the focus is on strengthening deep support muscles, and balancing and stabilising muscle groups around the joints of the entire body – critical for coping with the incredible amount of stress on the bones and joints dancing can produce.

Muscle conditioning, control and strength: Pilates helps to identify areas of weakness that may inhibit optimum form, as well as establish cues to effectively recruit and activate the muscles. Unlike strength training with weights, Pilates produces long, lean muscles, delivering the benefits of strength and tone without bulk, aiding in speed and range of movement. Pilates also works the body through a greater range of motion than other forms of resistance training, increasing functional strength specific to dancing. As with dance, Pilates strengthens muscles that play a vital role in performing particular movements. Back muscles are developed evenly and the spine is elongated and aligned for better stability. Pilates strengthens the quads, glutes and hamstrings which support the knees and hips and provide greater power.

Flexibility and control: Pilates improves balance, agility and stability throughout the body to create a proper foundation from which to generate dance movements. Enhanced kinaesthetic awareness can result in more efficient movement and better coordination, as well as decreased fatigue in the body. Emphasising a full range of motion helps maintain, and in a lot of cases increases, mobility in the body. Suppleness is essential for dancers, therefore a strength regime that doesn’t come at the cost of flexibility is a must.

Improved breathing: One of the fundamentals of dance is efficient and effective breathing. Pilates exercises are performed at a deliberate pace, engaging deep, controlled diaphragmatic breathing and coordination of breath with movement.

Rehabilitation: With a focus on the smaller and deeper muscles (not just the prime movers) and on correcting weaknesses and imbalances, Pilates helps dancers prevent injury, improve technically, and perform their heavy workload consistently. Modifications allow for the injured area to be rested, while still challenging and strengthening other parts of the body. Special attention is placed on the contributing factors that may have led to the injury in the first place, preventing it from reoccurring.