Today has been one of those really productive days. I got up early and started the day with conditioning exercises, which I’m trying to do every morning now that my schedule is a little more manageable. I thought I would share my daily exercise routine with you, because they’re the sort of exercises and stretches that when done regularly make a dramatic difference to your technique. I got many of these exercises from Clarissa May’s YouTube videos, which I highly recommend! I just modified them to suit me, combined them with some of my own, and compiled it all into a routine I can do every day.
This routine is designed for someone who is already relatively strong and flexible- if you find any of these too hard right now, just modify them to make them easier or swap that exercise/ stretch for a less intense version. If you’re super strong and flexible, you can find variations on these exercises to make them more difficult. I find that this takes me between 90 minutes and 2 hours to complete- I allow 2 hours so that I don’t have to rush. I have the luxury of being able to do these in the morning, because I live opposite my ballet school and don’t have to be in until 10am, but any time of the day is fine- the key is doing them every day, or as many times a week as possible! I do my exercises after getting ready for class, but before breakfast.
ABS: I start by following an abs workout on an app on my phone- you can also find 5- 10 minute ab workouts on YouTube.
- Butterfly stretch; lean forward with a straight lower back. Hold 30 secs.
- Frog stretch 30 secs. Keep legs in frog and arch back into seal stretch, hold 30 secs and lower. In frog, try to lift right knee 5 times, then left, then both.
- Bum stretches
- If there’s room, start sitting up with legs straight out in front. Open legs to middle splits, roll forwards and bring legs into frog behind. Reverse and repeat 3 times.
- Use theraband to practice lifting and lowering leg to passé with resistance.
- Middle lunges to both sides, and middle splits, holding 40 seconds each
- Go to barre (or chair etc.) and use hand to help lift leg as high as possible, keeping hip down and legs straight and turned-out, and ribs in. Let go of leg, then let go of barre. Repeat other side.
- Side plank on each side, adding 5 seconds every day.
SPLITS (I have added extra time for my left leg as this is my less flexible leg and I am working towards evening them)
- Lunge right leg front 30 secs. Lunge left leg 40 secs.
- Sitting hamstring stretch 30 secs.
- Seal stretch 30 secs, then child’s pose 30 secs.
- Middle lunges again, 10 secs each side.
- Hold middle splits for 1 minute. Stretch to the right side and hold for 30 secs, then the same on the left. Walk forwards and hold for 40 seconds. Straighten knees completely, lifting feet to stretch hyperextension (Do NOT do this if you do not have naturally hyperextended knees as you will cause damage)
- Hold right leg front splits for 1 minute. Flex right foot, hold it (/pull upwards if knees are hyperextended) and put head on leg- hold for 30 secs. Stretch backwards as far as possible and hold 40 secs. Repeat left, but hold splits for 90 seconds instead of 1 minute to begin with.
- Start stretching over splits on something small, and keep increasing in size.
- Seal stretch as far as possible 30 secs
- Arabesque lifts, facing barre/ chair lift leg as high as possible in arabesque maintaining turnout, straight knees, pointed foot and hold back up. Lift and lower with control- start with 10 and increase. Repeat other leg.
- Slow back lifts lying on the floor- start with 10 and add.
- Lift back as high as possible, put arms in 3rd position (or 5th) and hold for 20 seconds. Add 5 seconds every day, then when it’s easy, add holds in with the back lifts.
- Back lifts in frog stretch positon: start with 10 then add.
- Seal stretch, bend knees, grab ankles and try to put ankles on shoulders. I can’t actually do this yet but I try every day!
- Stand facing barre and pull leg up behind you into full standing split. Let go and try to hold- repeat both sides.
- For needle: right-leg front splits, lean back and grab left leg, pulling head towards that back leg. Be very very careful not to pinch your back doing this. Repeat other side.
- Child’s pose 1 minute. Then stand up, slouch the shoulders a lot and lean to one side- you should get a great back stretch.
- 30 plie- releves
- 20 ankle rolls each way, on each foot
- Downward dog: lift right leg to 180 degrees and pulse for 30 secs, then repeat left. Then grande battement in this position, lowering with control, 20 times on each leg.
FEET AND POINTE
- Roll out bottom of feet with foot massager or tennis ball
- Stretch calfs and achilles
- Standing on a balance disk, stand on 1 foot with the other in parallel sur le coup de pied and rock slowly from ball to heel for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other leg. Add 5 seconds every day.
- Sit on the floor with legs out in front. Wrap a medium or thick theraband around toes. Point and flex 10 times each foot. 10 point and flex, keeping toes down and just moving ankle. Point and flex 10 times keeping toes lifted in demi pointe. 20 circles each way. Winging 10 times each foot.
- Scrunch up a towel or cloth using only one foot, then the other. 20 arch lifts each foot.
- 40 releves in 1st poition, then 20 on each foot with the other foot in a turned-out sur le coup de pied position.
- Stand in 2nd position on demi-pointe and shift weight from side-to-side, pushing the toes off the ground, 30 times.
- 30 tendus to each side.
PUT POINTE SHOES ON
- Walk through shoes in parallel, then bend knees, roll on to pointe, straighten knees and lower slowly, 10 times. Repeat in 1st position.
- 20 releves on each foot with the other foot in a turned-out sur le coup de pied position.
- 20 releves in first position.
- 20 tendus to each side, working through the shoe, then when foot is extended in tendu, spring from demi to full pointe. Do 4 sets of 8 on each side.
- Push over the shoe, holding for 30 secs, then straighten knee but try to keep foot in position. Repeat to other side, and front and back both sides.
- Cross one led over the other and plie in parallel to stretch foot, keeping weight over big toe, Repeat other foot.
- Remove shoes and stretch calves.
Now you’re done! You can do part or all of these exercises, but do some every day and you’ll really notice a change. Don’t forget to drink loads of water during and after! In addition to these exercises I’ll do at least one 90 minute class a day, and on some days when I have the time I try to do another workout, such as a run, swimming, pilates or the gym.
I hope this was helpful, keep dancing!