Praise yourself. 2020 was a hard year. You, however, proved to be strong enough to accept a new norm. Virtual classes aren’t easy, and dancing in close quarters is even harder. And with social distancing still a key recommendation for stoping the spread of COVID-19, dancers worldwide remain out of the studio and off the stage.
The stress of returning to in-person dancing following a prolonged quarantine can be overwhelming. You might find yourself relying on controlling behaviors like calorie-counts and weight checks as a means to “get back into shape.” Though this might feel comforting at first, it’s putting you at risk for a damaged relationship with both your plate and your body.
In addition to following safety guidelines for returning to the studio, you should also ease yourself back into the studio with patience. Here are a few tips to consider:
Set New Expecations
Taking a “step back” or dialing down your usual routine can be a scary concept if you’re accustomed to higher levels of dancing. Instead of lowering expectations, simply change them into new ones. Were you working on triple pirouettes a year ago? Now might be the time to aim for a clean and controlled double. 32 fouettés seem out of reach? Start with 10! From there, you’ll be able to regain the strength and endurance needed to achieve your goals.
Returning to the same level of training from prior to quarantine can lead to overworking muscles that are not quite ready to take on a full load. Include a proper warm-up to prepare muscles for dance and end with a cool down to prevent further injury. You’ll also want to tame the urge to overdo it. Amping up your training load to “make up for a lost time” can cause fatigue, chronic muscle soreness, and decreased immune function. Not to mention burnout! Be patient. Even if your body isn’t able to handle the same workload as a year ago, taking care of your body now will allow you to become stronger later!
Balance Performance Nutrition vs. Intuitive Nutrition
Your relationship with food might have changed during the quarantine. The transition you’ll make from virtual to in-person dancing requires a balance between performance nutrition and intuitive eating. Performance nutrition utilizes a gentle approach to fueling your body. Maintaining a well-balanced diet of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats is essential. This will promote energy and satiety, allowing you to fully concentrate on your dancing.
Intuitive nutrition involves listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues in order to create clear lines of communication and trust between mind and body. Instead of making food choices based on what’s “good” or “healthy”, you will learn what foods satisfy you and make you feel good both mentally and physically. Though attainable, this work isn’t easy. To learn more, check out this article.
Article written with the help from student Caitlin Alfano. Expert reviewed by Rachel Fine.