Stretch, Strength & Stamina

June 14, 2017

Cross training plays a crucial role in a dancers training. Here at Steps, classes focusing on stretch, strength, and stamina are offered daily to give dancers the opportunity to train their bodies in ways that regular dance classes cannot. Some of our teachers explained the benefits of these classes to help us gain a better understanding of why we need to cross-train. Tera-Lee Pollin has been teaching Jazz and Zumba at Steps since 2013. She says her Zumba class is a mix of intense cardio and toning. “It helps get your stamina up for performance and also keeps your body looking tight and toned. I change up the exercises frequently so we are never in a comfort zone, creating a constant burn.”

Donna Flagg, the creator of Lastics Stretch, has been teaching her technique at Steps for almost two years. She says that Lastics improves flexibility, which as an end result, it creates better lines in addition to helping you meet the inherent flexibility demands of dance, no matter what style. It helps condition,  restore and balance the body, after and in between dance training, rehearsals and performances. It stretches the whole body to balance stretch with strength, which is critical for dancers because dancing creates imbalances, which then increases the chance of injury.” On the other side, Donna says that too much can over stretch the muscles, which can be a problem, especially over a long period of time. Lastics is incredibly effective, but you must know your limits to prevent injury.

Donna Starobin joined the Steps faculty this past February as a Mat Pilates instructor. “Mat Pilates is a great total body warm-up for any type of dance class. It’s one hour of intense focus on breathing, while strengthening and stretching every body part. It’s challenging and the movement system really allows you to check your progress and focus on strengthening any physical weaknesses you might have.” For about the past 90 years, Pilates has been a popular cross training method for dancers. Similar to dance techniques that have longer histories, it has evolved into a movement system that works effectively for everyone.

Having experience in cross training can also help you build your career. Tera got into teaching fitness while in between performing jobs due to an interest in working out and teaching. “It seemed like a natural thing to get into, and I have to say I love it and I love the students it has brought into my life! Teaching has also taken me to many states in North America and Europe.” Flagg had a different experience. She developed Lastics after having a dance related injury. “I learned that throughout the course of my training I had developed a chronic imbalance between stretch and strength. Dancers don’t typically stretch their whole bodies. There is an extreme focus on hamstrings and inner thighs (sitting in second, rolling through, etc…) and not much else. That is how my injury happened and it led to me creating this technique. I learned the hard way how intricately everything is connected.” Starobin was first introduced to Pilates in the 1970’s and was immediately intrigued by this brilliantly structured method. “Teaching the Pilates method has been a stepping stone in a lifelong search for knowledge. I love learning new things and sharing that knowledge with my students at Steps has been inspiring.

You can catch Tera’s Zumba class on Sunday mornings from 10:00-11:00am, Lastics Stretch classes Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s at 1:30pm and Pilates Mat classes daily at various times. Aside from these techniques, Steps also offers Morning Fit classes in Cize Live, Total Body Barre and Boot Camp, as well as Stretch and Strength classes in Gyrokinesis and Yoga. Check out the schedule to find your perfect match for cross-training!

BONUS! Also be sure to head over to lululemon at 75th street and Broadway for a free Lastics Stretch class on June 24th at 9:00am!

Talia Putrino
-Steps on Broadway Intern

Stretch, Strength & Stamina