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Ballet Talk for Dancers

How do you know if you're ready to add more classes?


AmyKL

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Right now I have a Monday/Wednesday class through the university. The class is fantastic- it focuses a lot on placement and increasing strength, extension, flexibility, etc. I've gained so much from it and I'm in much better shape than I was when I was just taking this really short class at my first studio (the first dance I've ever had). I'm a lot stronger and WAY more flexible than I used to be.

 

I'm interested in another adult class somewhere else that is supposed to be good. It's a advanced beginner through intermediate level class. That would give me 2 and a half hours of classes on Wednesday, split between the morning and evening. Plus Mondays in the university class, although it only goes until the beginning of May.

 

I'm not really concerned that I can't handle the second class (as far as ability) because I'm willing to bumble along, even if it takes a few or more classes to figure out what's going on. But on top of the university class how do I know if I'm setting myself up for injury or physical stress? Prior to the one I'm taking now, I only had a half hour of ballet a week, which didn't do much for me.

 

My other question is, what else should I be doing on the off days that I don't have class right now? I was doing pilates, but I can't fit it into my schedule anymore because I have a conflict at the time they give the class. I do think I have the fundamentals down enough where I could probably work off a video for a while until I can find another class that fits around my classes and family. It seems like Thursday through Sunday is a long time to go without having something. I'm just stretching a bit on the off days right now.

 

Basically, this is a long winded way of asking, how do you determine what your body can handle? My class right now is challenging and leaves me sore afterward a lot of the time, but I haven't had any issues with pain or injuries. I would like to keep it that way. I'm 26, and otherwise healthy, if that matters.

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Amy,

 

I am currently taking four classes a week through a regional company. I take classes M-W evenings and Saturday monrings. I would LOVE to add a fifth class to my schedule on Thursday evenings at another studio and have been trying to get myself there for the last month. However, after working all day, and then dancing three straight nights in a row, by the time Thursday evening rolls around I am too physically and mentally exhausted to even think about making the class. In some way I think my body is telling me that what I'm doing right now is enough. Eventually I hope to be able to add that fifth class.......

 

As for you, if you are sore from what you are doing now then adding the extra class would go one of two ways.......really over-exert you and make you so sore you can barely move the next day, or it may actually work some of the soreness out of you. It is really hard to say how adding the third class would affect you. If I were in your position I would personally try the extra class and see how it goes. I am a firm believer of listening to my body........if your body can't handle it I think you will know.

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(One more post before I head off to bed...)

 

I appreciate the advice. I may just call over there and see if I can drop in on the class for a couple weeks to see what happens. I suppose I might be overly paranoid about getting injured. One of the things that makes me the most sore is that she likes to have us do tons of pliés, like way more than I've ever done before. But I can see a huge difference from doing them all. Can you even do too many pliés? :clapping:

 

Maybe one of the things I should be asking about whether or not soreness should be a deterrent to working more, or if I would benefit from working it out, or even be adding more exercise to what I'm doing. Because even though I've made huge gains in strength, I'm far from where I could be. At least I think.

 

I guess it could also be apprehension about starting classes at an unfamiliar place that is making me doubt myself so much. But 6 months ago, I was only dancing for a half hour a week. Now I'm doing 2 and a half hours a week, and getting ready to bump it up to almost 4 hours. That's a lot more than I had. And before that, I had zero dance experience. Pretty amazing, if you really think about it. :clapping:

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Can you do a 'taster' class to see how you will feel, or will you have to commit for a whole term?

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Guest pink tights

If I understand correctly, you are looking at 2 classes in one day. I'm wondering if you would be better off holding off on that. Can you find a class later on in the week--to give you a more balanced schedule? I think you would see more progress than if you tried to double up. Also, anytime you go into a class mid-way through a semester, it's a little more difficult as classes tend to build from week to week. That can be frustrating as you will constantly have to play catch-up with the rest of the class. Perhaps waiting until the new semester begins would be a good thing. You are wise to worry about injuries! Overuse injuries are all too common and can keep you out of the studio for weeks, if not months. I know, been there, done that...

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I agree with pink tights that it would be better if you could add a class on a day when you DON'T already have ballet class! Two classes in one day can be pretty tough.

 

As far as number of classes per week, I'm going to suggest that if you started adding more days of classes, like a Mon/Wed/Fri schedule, you might start to notice LESS soreness because you could develop strength more quickly. When I went from taking classes every day (in high school) to only taking a few a week (in the beginning of college), I found that I was basically getting out of ballet-shape on the off days, which made every class much harder. Once you start scheduling classes more consistently, your body can get used to the movements much more quickly and easily. It DOES get easier, really!! :)

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Agreed about trying to add a class on another day. Alternate days are good, because your body has a day to recover, and then when you start to feel the soreness (it always is for me two days after the exertion), there you are, off to class again to stretch out the soreness!

 

But I now do two classes on a Wednesday evening (almost 3 hours in a row...) and classon Monday and Saturday, so I haven't been able to get it so even myself. And to be honest, there are other classes I could add on Thursday & Tuesday evenings, but by Thursday I am pretty tired, particularly after Wednesday dancing 6.30 to 9.15, and I work loooong hours in a demanding job.

 

But really, you'll never know till you try. And as for injury, as you get stronger, you're less likely to get injured. So adding another class may even help prevent injury. Three classes a week, done carefully, is unlikely to lead to overuse injuries, I should have thought - unless you're jumping on concrete floors ...

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I was a late starter as well, and took one class a week for the first year. At first, I seriously doubt I could have handled more than that - mostly because there was so much for the brain to absorb in less than a week. By the end of the first year though, it seemd that I was losing too much between classes. I added one class a quarter, up to four a week currently. It seems pretty clear that this is about the limit for my body/mind right now.

 

I have occasionally taken four or five days in a row, or two classes in a day; once two afternoon/evening classes and an 8:30 the next morning. I never had injuries or other problems, but the old subconscious was pretty clearly telling me "don't do that again!!" So ... listen to your body/mind/feelings, they know more than you do. (And they know WAY more than well-meaning advice-givers - like me!) :ermm:

 

The one time I did pull a muscle I was trying too hard, not wanting to look as bad as I really was. Being "willing to bumble along" - or even to look like an idiot - seems to be a prerequisite to learning anything worthwhile. :unsure:

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I haven't had a chance to reply, but I have read everyone's replies. I appreciate all the input. I fell down the stairs carrying a load of laundry a couple days ago and my knee has really been hurting on and off since then. So any extra classes are on hold right now until I get that checked out.

 

I may just hang in there with my one class until summer and then sign up for 1 or 2 classes a week. It's hard to get them on any kind of regular schedule though. It doesn't seem like adult classes around here are distributed very evenly during the week. Only a few places give them, and I can't find a Friday class anywhere.

 

I think having more than one a week would be beneficial, though. As soon as my knee feels better I think I'll be shopping for some different classes.

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Question: “Basically, this is a long winded way of asking, how do you determine what your body can handle?”

 

Answer: It really depends on the individual. Some of us are plow horses and thrive on work. Others of us are (can’t think of a good metaphor) do best with much less. Essentially, you have to find where you fit in this continuum. But regardless of where you fit in the work continuum, most likely your body can handle much more than you think it can. And remember, the ONLY way you become stronger than you are right now is to increasingly stress your body.

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Question: “Basically, this is a long winded way of asking, how do you determine what your body can handle?”

 

Garyecht is right--it is very individual. It can also depend on the teacher(s) and class(es). I've found that "too much" shouts loud and clear. I can usually get to class 5 or 6 days/week, with a week or so off because of travel about every two or three months. If by chance I get to class 6 or 7 days/week for 2 or 3 weeks in a row, then there comes a distinct point where I'll be in class and notice 3 or 4 or 5 things hurting. I know that that's the sign to back off for a bit.

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