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Cardio workout


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A big sin in the research world is to publish results too soon, before you’ve had a chance to digest and think things over. Having said that, I’m going to sin.


I was speaking with a friend I used to compete with long ago. He’s not a dancer, but is very knowledgeable, well known in his sport, and keeps himself in good shape for an old guy. We were talking about our respective exercise programs. I told him that I was getting tired of what I have been doing and was looking for a new cardio workout I could do entirely in my home gym. He proceeded to tell me about a cardio workout he liked and was doing over the winter. As he described what he was doing and why, I began thinking. I started thinking of how I might modify what he was doing to make it more dance related. Well, I tried out my version this noon and really liked it. I know it’s too early to talk about it, but I seem to be in a sinning mood this afternoon.


In her book Dance Kinesiology, Sally Fitt lists cardio vascular fitness as one of four components of dance fitness. For we adult dancers who can’t take as many classes as we would like and who might want to lose a pound or two, or three, or four, . . . , doing some cardio exercise seems logical. Cardio vascular exercise is simply elevating the heart rate to somewhere between about 60% and 80% of its maximum rate and keeping it there for some length of time.


A good method of cardio training is circuit training. Circuit training is just doing a sequence of exercises without rest between that raises the heart rate to the desired level. That was my workout. Here are the exercises I did:


1. Push-ups (15)

2. Petite allegro (32 counts from yesterday’s class)

3. Pilates exercise for the abs ((15) I did different exercises each round).

4. Push-ups (15 with legs crossed)

5. Chest against the thighs (12 from Luigi’s Jazz warm-up—great for legs and flexibility)

6. Pilates exercise for abs ((15) and more difficult than 3)

7. Sun salute (10—this is a modified version of the yoga sun salute, done more quickly, ignoring the breath, and with backbend and feet in second position)

8. Kickout on stomach (12 from Luigi’s warm-up)

9. Push-ups (10 with elevated feet)

10. Grand allegro that doesn’t travel much (e.g., I did Sissonne--failli, fouette, temps leve, fouette, temps leve, again and again).


I did three rounds of these exercises with no rest at any time and it took about 25-26 minutes to complete. I had about a 5 minute warm-up before starting and did another 30 minutes of weight training and stretching to complete an hour noon workout.


Now there is absolutely nothing magical about the exercises I did. I don’t even necessarily recommend them. What I want to emphasize is the basic principles of the workout, the things that made it work. First, there are exercises for the upper body, middle body and lower body. In general, they get the blood running to one part of the body and then with the next exercise get it to another body part. The exercises also increase in difficulty (in terms of effort) as one progresses through the sequence. For example, the Pilates exercises in 6 are harder than those in 3. And last, every one of these exercises I have done in some dance class, perhaps not as many reps, nor as fast, but I have done them.


As I said I know better than to write about something too soon, but decided to go against what I know.

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Its a good idea to integrate push ups and abs exercises. Especially in open classes, this seems to be left out a lot, especially if there are not a lot of male students in the class. (not that I like doing push ups, but since i re-started pas de deux I appreciate some exercises for the upper body)

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That seems like a useful and enjoyable routine. I'd like to try it!


I currently do something similar to incorporate cardiac and strength training in the same workout. I set my treadmill to a very fast walking pace, warm up for five minutes, and then proceed to the first strength training exercise (e.g., push-ups). When that set is over, I immediately return to the treadmill for two minutes of fast walking (remember, I promised my pointe teacher I would not run), hop off the treadmill, and move into the next strength training exercise (e.g., Pilates leg extensions). Then, immediately back to the treadmill (which I leave running for efficiency) for two minutes.


By putting two minutes of cardio between each exercise and by not taking rests between sets, cardiac output does indeed stay nicely elevated. If you do not have a treadmill, you could insert any cardiac activity (e.g., jumping rope or stationary cycling) into those two minutes.

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