My priority as a strength coach is to simplify matters and find efficiencies for my dancers and athletes as much as possible. The good news is, we have data, experience, and research from thousands of athletes around the world—and an increasing amount of this work is being done with women specifically in mind. So if we synthesize Abbie Smith-Ryan’s work with some of this other research and best practices, we begin to see a picture emerge for what healthy body composition strategies look like for dancers.
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Dancers are renowned for their work ethic, so the idea that they’re not working hard enough on their conditioning might come as a surprise. Don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with discipline or toughness. Sometimes dancers just don’t know how to work hard in the right way.
Our understanding of this dynamic in the sports world is nearly intuitive. If our best players are able to stay on the field longer and miss fewer games because of injury, our team has a better chance of winning. The dance world is no different, except for it relies on an approach that cares for injuries once they’ve happened (with physical therapists and athletic trainers) rather than an approach that simultaneously enhances performance and prevents injury.