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Creating a Program and Tracking your Progress

Warm Up Before you get into your Barre and class work (whether you are doing a floor barre or standing barre) is a good idea to go through a detailed warm up. This is something that many people miss out when not dancing to their full capacity but can make a big difference to how you feel in your "class work". How much of a warm up is needed will also depend on whether you chose to do your cardio work in the morning or the afternoon. It is important to understand the difference between an effective warm up and flexibility work.

Class Work Depending on your level of training, the presence of any injuries or restriction and your technical capacity, the class work component of your day may range from a simple half hour Floor Barre to a full 90 minute class. Even if you have no injuries, I highly recommend using a floor barre program at least every second day. Floor Barre can be even more challenging than a regular standing barre, and can highlight many weaknesses that may be able to be masked in a regular class. If you are unfamiliar with a technical floor barre then check out the following video, and our detailed "Will I Ever Dance Again?" programme.

Specific Strengthening and Technique Work Whenever you are not dancing at your full capacity it is a perfect opportunity to improve on any of the areas that are preventing you from performing at your best. Whether it is developing deep core strength or flexibility in your upper back, make the most of your time off to go through any other strengthening and conditioning exercises that you know. However, rather than just doing a big jumble of random exercises, try focussing on just one area for 2 weeks to see more results. Identify several exercises that fall into the specific categories of:

  • Mobilise (creating space and fluidity to allow the movement)

  • Isolate (Specific isolation of the deepest muscles)

  • Integrate (How do the deepest muscles work with the more superficial muscles)

  • Function (How will you use this pattering in class)

  • Load (Adding speed, repetition or resistance)

If you are needing help with working out which exercises fall into which categories, ask your dance teacher or therapist, or consult one of our many programs such as Training Turnout or How to get your legs higher in a devéloppé devant.

Deeper Stretches and Flexibility Work Always remember to do your deeper stretches and flexibility training later in the day once all of your other work has been completed. Remember that there is a very big difference between "Warm Up" and "Flexibility Training". For most people, the structures limiting their flexibility are not muscles, but more fascial restrictions and neural tension. It is extremely important to deal with these other restrictions before working on any muscular stretches. Use the following video to help work out what kind of restrictions you have. If you are going to do longer stretches, it is important to do these later in the day, as if you hold a stretch longer than about 30 seconds that muscle will not be able to operate at its full power for at least half an hour afterwards. Therefore if you do your deep stretches before class, you may lose power and control in the arewas you need it most.

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