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Staying warm in winter


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For those of you that are in the northern hemisphere I hope that you are enjoying the lovely hot weather while those of us in the southern hemisphere are frreeeeezzzing.


I love going to class and it really doesnt require any motivation to get me there at all, however I find that I am really battling to be warm enough and to manage to move and was wondering if anyone has made any great discoveries which work in keeping you warm. Our studios do NOT have any heating and from an insulation point of view most buildings in this country fall very sadly short... no double glazing on the windows etc etc.


Most of us have resorted to dancing with tracksuits over our dance clothes, because it really is too cold to take them off when you start class but although this does help to keep the body warmer it seriously makes moving a challenge and does nothing to help the feet which really dont warm up at all and I have pointe work tonight which is going to be really sore on cold feet :pinch: not to mention the toenail that is about to come off :lol:

I went to class last night wearing a body stocking, a leo, a second pair of tights, leg warmers, tracksuit pants, a ballet jersey a sleeveless polar top and a sleeved polar top... yes, I was warm (other than my feet) and I can start shedding clothes after a couple of barre exercises, but when class started I felt like I could barely move.


What works for you to ensure that you are warm but not over dressed?

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Hi Balletlove, I live in Canada, so I know exactly that feeling you are describing and know it's coming for me in about 6 months' time ;) I've found that I have to do a serious warmup to get the inner heat going well before class, usually by walking the 40 minutes or so from my house to the studio. That REALLY helps loosen me up and I'm ready to shed a layer or two en route or when I get indoors. I also do the layering that you do...two pairs of tights (the woolen Gaynor Minden tights are awesome...warm but not bulky!), warmup pants over those, multiple layers for the upper body (I wear a sleeveless fleece vest too) that I slowly remove through barre, and stirrup legwarmers that also cover my ankles. I try to think of those stories and pictures of the Russian ballet students dancing in unheated studios back in the days pre-WWII and figure if they can do it, I can do it...LOL!


Also, silk long underwear is magically warm yet breathable and very thin. It makes a good layer under your clothes outside of ballet but a great layer OVER your tights and leotard during the winter dance months. Good luck and happy dancing! :pinch:

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It is regularly around freezing point here (Canberra, Aus) at night at the moment too! I wear thermal underwear too (leggings and tops), as it is warm but thin and allows for movement, and then regular ballet warm-ups over them. Sometimes up to three layers of warm clothing over my leotard and tights. Most of the extra layers come off as I warm up, but sometimes it takes until allegro to be warm enough! The older I get, the longer it takes to warm up- every winter I add more clothing!

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Hi Balletlove, I live in Canada, so I know exactly that feeling you are describing and know it's coming for me in about 6 months' time ;)


Ugh. Don't remind me!


In all seriousness, layering does work. I do some of the things already mentioned (stirrup legwarmers), and I also layer in a greater number of more streamlined layers -- a long-sleeved t-shirt plus a zip-up top (not as bulky as a sweatshirt). Long-sleeved tops or outer layers for runners often have loops for your thumbs to go through so the sleeves don't ride up, if that's helpful to you. Experiment with fabrics, as some are warmer than others. And those ripstop "garbage bag" shorts/pants/overalls really do get warm.


As for your feet, you could try wearing insulated, flexible booties before class for your own warm-up and in between your technique and pointe classes if there's any gap. They're often available at dancewear stores, but I have these non-dance-specific ones. You could also try wearing socks (over your ballet slippers or not) for barre. I find hiking socks work best, because they fit snugly and are designed to stay put, and you can pick heavier ones for warmth. Take them off when you move to the centre... Slippery!


You might also try switching to a long-sleeved leotard for more balletic warmth.

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Kylara7 - walking to class would probably be a really good idea and probably would get me warm enough and in terms of walking paths it really is not far at all from home to the studio; however mostly my classes only start after it is dark (in winter) and always finish in the dark and it really is not safe to walk in South Africa especially after dark my DH would have a heart attack if I even considered it :thumbsup:

Woolen Gaynor Minden tights - I havent seen those, not even on their web site???

What is silk long underwear and at what sort of a shop did you buy it... sounds like a superb solution, but now to track somethign like that down....


Wembley - I am sure you are feeling it as much as we are at the moment... we have been in the overnight sub zero temps for over a week now and barely above 10 celsius during the day!!!! Did you manage to find thermal underwear in something other than white???? It is actually not a bad idea at all - thanks.

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Balletlove, the Target stores here have a great range of thermal underwear. You can get pastel colours, or black in cotton and polypropylene, or my friends and I really favour merino wool thermals which come in black, blue, grey and white. If desperate, hiking stores often have thermals in bright stripes. To get silk thermal underwear here, you have to go to David Jones, which is fairly posh and only found in big cities.


I suspect that we have the same issues as you do in South Africa, in that many buildings are designed to be cool in summer- so they are very cold in winter!

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Bummer on the walking, but I understand about safety...I went to school in a US city where it was not safe to walk home alone after dark so I know what you mean. Can you run up and down the stairs a few times when you get into your studio building (if there ARE stairs)? That's one thing I do when I can't walk to class.


The silk long underwear I usually get through a outdoors-type store (Land's End or Cabela's in Canada, but I'm sure you have a similar sort of store in SA)...hunters and hikers use them a lot so you can find both men's and women's versions: http://tinyurl.com/6xkzwkh I've also seen silk sock liners for a thin extra later of warmth on your feet! http://tinyurl.com/453myug And both the silk tops and bottoms as well as the sock liners usually come in black as well as a lighter color (like pink or cream). The Gaynor Minden tights I got at the retail store for the National Ballet School of Canada...they were frequently sold out all last winter as they were so popular: http://tinyurl.com/63v3ebd


It's funny...now that I think about it, I have warm and cold weather dance wardrobes as well as regular street clothes...have to rotate at some point in the spring and fall, though there's usually an annoying "in between" period :thumbsup:

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Thanks Gav, I do have a couple of skiing tops that have loops in them for the thumb, and it does help keep the top down and your hands warm against the icy cold barre :thumbsup:

I may try the socks idea, I know that DH has quite a few pairs of hiking socks in his cupboard :wink: thanks for that one!


kylara7 - nope, no stairs :grinning:

Thanks for the info on the silk underwear, I think that my first stop will be a little shop that sells German clothing (I bought my ski tops there), after that I may need to get a bit more creative!

One of my colleagues suggested those thick knitted tights the kids wear as part of their school uniform... will have to investigate whether I can get them in a large enough size I am 5'9"!


Wembley - I just had a thought as to where I might find dark coloured thermals... we have some hiking/camping speciality shops, I will look there! There stuff is normally a good quality too!

Yes our houses are designed to be cool in summer and my home is wonderfully cool in summer, but in winter it is cold! It doesnt face north (it needs to face N or NW to get the sun) and mine doesnt. Built all of bricks without double glazed windows etc etc. True we oly really have 3-4 cold months a year, but if you are like me you are cold for 5-6 months of the year and NEVER without a jersey EVER!

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I know winter in Florida can be kind of a joke, but what really is very effective for me when it is cold are those knit unitards, like the ones from KD Dance for example.

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What helps me:

1.) A really good warm up, focusing a lot on the feet, hips, back, hamstrings. I can't do class in winter without at least a 10 minute warm up!


2.) Wearing multiple layers of socks and warm boot-slippers on my way to class (if not coming directly from work). I warm up my feet with multiple layers of socks on or put ballet shoes on and then socks over to continue warming feet up. I've also seen the most awesome things at Clicks - you know those heat bags you heat in the microwave? Those, but in slipper form! I'm dying to get some of those.


3.) Blasting the car heater at my feet on the way to class :blush:


4.) Slimline layers...multiple ones! Thermal spencers from Woolies can be great; also the stretch long-sleeved shirts from Woolies. If you buy them in fairly form-fitting sizes they aren't so bulky.


5.) Full leg leg-warmers


6.) Really concentrating on working THROUGH the feet in all your exercises helps to warm feet up nicely!


Fortunately we have wooden barres so the cold hands thing isn't as awful. We are permitted to wear slim, form-fitting tracksuit pants for the first few exercises at the barre (i.e. pliés, tendus). I also tend to dress very warmly throughout the day (tights, socks, leg-warmers, jeans, vest, 2-3 long-sleeved shirts, 1-2 jerseys, jacket on a typical day :jump: ) which helps me to be warmer when I get to class. The car heater is a MUST too (if you live far enough away from the studio for it to make a difference tho!). As much as possible, if I am able to get home before class, I take a quick hot shower or bath immediately before leaving for ballet because then muscles are a bit warmer, too.

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Je Suis Aimee - I know what you are talking about as one of my friends used to have one of those, we called it her baby grow... she had had it for years and years, they are not quite so freely available anymore... but an option which would be very similar are the children's woolen tights that one of my colleagues suggested the other day... am going to go and look for some this weekend.


Swantobe - I agree with you about the warm up and the hot bath before I go when I can. I frequently put my ballet shoes on at home and then pull my ugg boots on over the top and my feet do stay warm... until I have had my boots off for a few moments - I do cool down VERY fast!

I know what you are talking about from Clicks and I actually have some, but they are virtually impossible to walk in unfortunately as theoretically they were a super idea. They also dont hold their warmth as well as the hot water bottles do - I love my hot water bottles!

I am going to go and have a look at woolies on the weekend, one of my colleagues has a black t shirt on today which is nice and feeting and could work a treat... I am going hunting this weekend to see what I can find! I have thought about the thermal spencers before, but in order to get them quite form fitting I need to take the smallest possible size (uhmmm very flat chested and no padding on my upper body at all) and then the sleeves are too short :pinch:

My full leg legwarmers are my best friends... think I must get another pair!

I dont really live far enough away from the studio for the heater in my car to make any difference... during the week it is fine as it has had the drive from the office to home to warm up, but on a Saturday the cold light (for the engine) is still on by the time I get to the studio :blushing: I am VERY lucky to live VERY close to the studio!


Thanks everyone for your suggestions, I am off this weekend to see what I can find.

PS. Swantobe, one of the girls in our studio found leggings (black) at Mr Price for a very reasonable price which look like they could be a great solution!

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I have noticed that the Russian dancers in our local company always wear knitted bootee socks (with a soft suede sole) over their ballet shoes. They do the first few exercises at the barre in these before taking them off and before a performance they keep them on until it's time to go on stage. You could probably find a pattern to knit them yourself.

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When I danced in Boston in a very cold building we used to all wear knitted socks over our slippers at the beginning of barre. Also second the suggestion of long silk underwear over the leo and tights. It's very thin but somehow really helps to maintain body heat. I think I got mine through LLBean.

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My “tricks” for keeping warm in the winter include doing a really good warm-up, one that brings a slight hint of perspiration for the physiological part and for the psychological part, simply ignoring the cold. No special clothing, which for me would just make me focus on the cold and not on what I’m trying to do.

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Get a pair of ugg boots that are a size too big, and wear your canvas/leather ballet flats inside them to class. that way your feet start a little bit warmer.

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