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A Look at Cross Training for Ballerinas

Kaylie Bullock talks about the importance of cross training, fitness, and PROTEIN!

Besides being one of Central Illinois ballet's amazing company members, Kaylie Bullock also serves as the Conditioning teacher for our affiliated academy. Each Saturday morning at 10:30am Cornerstone Academy students meet for a rigorous conditioning class where they focus on working muscles they do not normally target in a ballet class. We got a chance to talk with Ms. Bullock on her approach to the class and why she believes cross training is a must for every dancer.

Give us a brief overview of what the class entails:

Since students have already completed a ballet class, we jump right into a rotation of multiple exercises mixing in cardio and strength training. Sometimes we work in groups, partners, or try to beat our personal best record.

We are always hearing the students quote you on your "protein" kick, why do you emphasis protein so much?

Oh goodness that makes me laugh! Yes, I am known for encouraging and emphasizing our bodies' need for protein. I'm an advocate for healthy foods in general, but if students take only one thing away from our conversations I'm glad it's about PROTEIN!

The body needs protein to build muscle and young dancers sometimes see professionals toned ballet bodies and think they should cut out food. In reality dancers need to properly fuel their bodies to gain muscle which creates a toned ballet body. I learned that much later in life and I wish someone would have explained it to me sooner!

Where do you see young dancers struggle most in conditioning class?

At the beginning of the year, students look at me like I must be crazy when I tell them we're going to run sprints or do lunges. There's a mental hurtle we have to get past, but after we do they actually really like the physical challenge. After that it's upper body strength! Dancers often have strong legs and weaker arms.

Why would you recommend cross training to dancers?

The benefits are endless! Cross training prevents injury and builds strength. Because dancers are achieving new goals they develop confidence and there's a great sense of camaraderie in the class. The kids really have fun. Dancers like the aesthetic benefits and when you can do 20 squat jumps all the sudden your choreography doesn't wear you out as much!

What is your personal favorite way to stay active in CIB's off season?

I have a cross training routine I follow that I really enjoy. I rotate strength training, cardio, and yoga. My favorite way to train is with a good friend though!

Thank you Kaylie for this amazing interview! Be sure to catch her class Saturday mornings 10:30am at Cornerstone Academy for Performing Arts.

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