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Experts / December 2017
Brittany Burke, Global Newsroom

Try the Tough Training Ballerinas Do to Prepare for Center Stage

‘Tis the season to watch ballerinas on stage and think, “How do they do that?!” over and over.

While the obvious answer is that they spend countless hours at the barre and in the studio rehearsing every single day, what you might not realize is that they also put in work at the gym, too.

“Ballet is very rigorous and very athletic,” says Katie Boren, a ballerina with American Ballet Theatre.

“It requires so much strength, and training outside of the studio really helps me to push my stamina and find areas of my technique to strengthen in an effort to enhance my performance.”

Boren does a lot of that training at celeb-favorite gym The Dogpound in New York City, where she works with trainers Kevin Mejia and Emily Samuel on her balance, strength and power.

“Ballerinas do a lot of body weight work,” says Samuel. “We like to fill in the gaps with resistance bands and medicine balls.” The goal is to lengthen and tone muscles in a way that will enhance the work dancers do in the studio.

“Core strength is a must for dancers, so I gravitate toward any and all core exercises,” says Boren. “Ankle stabilization and inner thigh strength are also important targets. Balance is always something that can be improved, so I love that challenge.”

We got an exclusive look into some of the exercises that Mejia and Samuel do with Boren to ensure that she feels confident performing multiple shows per week in front of a packed crowd.

It pays off, she says. “When I’m on stage and the nerves hit, the lights are blinding, and the audience is watching, it helps so much to know that I’m secure and solid,” Boren says. Check out Samuel’s eight moves that help Boren feel that way.

Banded Lateral Walks


With a resistance band around calves and feet just a shoulder-width apart, bend knees and step one foot directly out to one side. Bring other foot to meet it, then repeat on the other side.

Banded Squats


With a resistance band around knees and with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, bend into a squat, then stand straight up. Repeat.

Hamstring Curl on a Medicine Ball


Lay on the ground with arms and legs straight, and feet resting on a medicine ball so hips are elevated. Slide the medicine ball toward your body until knees are bent, keeping hips lifted. Slide the ball out again, and repeat.

Banded Core Hold


Place a resistance band around something sturdy nearby, and pull so it’s taught. Bend into a squat, and hold the band in both hands with arms outstretched. Pull the band inwards so elbows are bent at your sides, and extend arms back out straight ahead. Repeat.

Box Jumps


Stand with feet a shoulder-width apart, and bend into a squat. Using your glutes, power off the ground and onto the box. Step down to the floor, and repeat.

Back Lunges Kick Over


Stand with feet shoulders-width apart. Step right leg back into a lunge, then power right leg straight forward into a kick as left leg stands. Swing right leg in the air 90 degrees until it’s at your side, then return it to the floor. Repeat on both legs.

Single Leg Deadlift on Bosu


Stand on one leg on the flat side of a Bosu. Bend knee and lift leg so that thigh is parallel to the floor, then swing leg behind you, dipping your chest forward until everything but your left leg is parallel to the floor. Repeat on both legs.

Reverse Burpee Spring Jump


Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a medicine ball in both hands. Jump straight up, and as you land, lower butt to the floor and use your core to roll onto your back, keeping legs bent, as the medicine ball extends over your head. Roll back up to stand, and repeat.

Experts / December 2017
Brittany Burke, Global Newsroom