Can Dance & Ballet Make You a Better Athlete?
It makes you more aware of your own body, which translates to the way you analyze and approach all your activities.
"Dancing has made it a lot easier for me to pick up tennis and skiing," says Katia Pryce, founder and creator of DanceBody. "My balance and lower-body strength are insanely good because of dancing, which is important in skiing." As for tennis: "I'm so aerobically conditioned in terms of lateral movement that getting to the ball is the easy part.... The hard part is hitting it correctly!"
Dance experts say you can reap similar benefits even if you're not a pro. Here's how even the occasional class can make you a better athlete.
The Physical Perks
Stronger feet: "Across the board, ballet and dancing helps make your feet stronger," says Alberto Ortiz, founder of Work Train Fight. "Our feet are the foundation of pretty much all of our movement." Regardless of your sport of choice, having strong feet—that you can balance on—is an asset.
Better endurance: from a cardiovascular standpoint, dancing ballet is superior because of the high aerobic component, for some people, it may be easier to work harder for longer while dancing. When you're dancing, your mind is distracted and you're enjoying the movement; you're not thinking about how fast your heart is beating, whereas on a treadmill you're likely counting down minutes. In a ballet or dance class, you can forget that you're working out for an hour or more, but that consistent cardio really makes a difference over time.
Flexibility: You probably could have guessed this one, but it's important. Flexibility earned from dancing or exercising ballet helps to achieve great results in other types of fitness activities. It will also prevent any potential injuries and balance the muscular structure.
Body awareness and coordination: Ballet and dance strengthens your mind-body connection. "Learning how to isolate certain parts of your body and understanding your center of gravity are two huge benefits that translate into your athletic performance," Ortiz says. Boyd agrees, noting that "there are big, intricate movements in dance, and your brain is processing those and helping you execute them. You're aware of where you want your body to go, and how you want it to move. Over time, you find yourself thinking less and just getting after it! Catching on to activities or workouts with patterns, rhythm, or beats will come a bit easier for dancers."
How Dance Helps You Get Your Head In the Game
Confidence: "I've met people who declared they'd 'never dance,' but then gave it a shot, and now they're hooked," says Pryce. Confidence plays a role not only in feeling good about yourself and your body, but also your willingness to try new things or pursue physical goals—like finally hitting that PR you've been after.
Social connection: "Expect to meet and connect with the people around you," Pryce says. "Dancing is a communal sport. Our ancestors did it as a way to bond and celebrate, so we are hardwired to want connection through this type of movement." When you think about it that way, it's pretty tough to not want to at least try it out. "Like attracts like, and the people coming to these classes crave connection and companionship, not just a solo treadmill experience." Fit friends are likely to keep you coming back for more, so don't discount the power of the new gym buddies you might find through dance.
Awareness of your surroundings: "In the boxing ring, I'm always preaching the importance of knowing where you are—if you know moving to your left will make you run into the corner and get stuck, then move to your right instead," Ortiz says. "In salsa, even though you're super focused on your partner, you also need to make sure you are aware of your space; running into a bar or other dancers never feels good." The ability to read your surroundings quickly can benefit you in pretty much any sport, from running to cycling and even weightlifting in a crowded gym.
So what are you waiting for? Try our Ballet Body Sculpture classes and start advancing your fitness life: