The goal with your cross-training should be efficiency. Period.
No more working out every single day. No more logging 3 miles in on the elliptical after rehearsals. No more arriving two hours early to the studio to squeeze in your extensive pre-class exercise rituals. No more forcing yourself through your daily workout routine just to cross it off your list. No more dragging yourself to multiple random exercise classes, enduring exhaustion in order to "improve" your ballet.
The more popular cross-training gets in the dance world, the more time and energy dancers are spending on it. But, ironically, this is the wrong direction to go in.
You already dedicate so much time and energy to ballet. Between technique classes, rehearsals, performances, warm-ups, cool-downs, time after class spent working on whatever you are struggling with…you have so few resources left over to live the rest of your life. The last thing you want to do is drag yourself to the gym to slog through another 2 hours of physical work to fulfill your cross-training requirement for the day. That may be fine when you are young, but as you mature, you have to be careful where you spend your time and energy.
As you gain experience and become more seasoned in the profession, that is when you really start appreciating ballet for the art that it is. That is when you really start figuring things out and developing your artistry. Coincidentally, that is also usually the same time you start to develop an interest in other things in life. After spending decades immersed in your craft, you begin to notice a big world around you that you’ve been shut out from...and, now you want to explore it. Once this Pandora’s box is opened and you realize there is more to life than just you and your ballet, you can’t go back. (Well, you can, but you’ll be miserable.) You no longer want to spend every waking second working in the studio or gym to perfect your craft.
Plus, when you no longer have mommy and daddy paying the bills and have to support yourself with another job that gives you financial freedom, it gets even harder to squeeze it all in. After an 8 hour shift at work, how the heck are you going to find the energy to then take a ballet class and put yourself through the gauntlet at the gym?
You still have an intense desire to dance, improve, and perform. But, you also want a family, a career, a certain lifestyle, to be part of a bigger cause, & to leave your legacy behind. This is a crossroads many dancers face as we mature in our dance careers. And, it’s a shame many of us feel forced to move on and leave our ballet dreams behind when we are no longer willing to be single-mindedly obsessed with ballet...just when we are getting to the point of really understanding and being proficient in it.
It doesn’t have to end this way. You don’t have to choose “ballet” or “the rest of life.” You can have both. And, what’s even better, you can still level up in your ballet while pursuing other things in life…if you are willing to change the way you train.
How do you fix this dilemma if you can no longer train the way you used to, devoting 100% of your time and energy to your ballet? You have to train differently. You have to find a way of training that gives you more bang for your buck. Instead of spending 20 hours a week taking extra classes to stay in ballet shape, you spend 30 minutes in the gym with sports-specific cross-training designed to compliment your ballet. This isn’t an interchangeable equation where any type of "cross-training" workout will give you the results you are looking for. It requires a workout with the specific purpose of enhancing your ballet technique.
So, when you get to the point where you want to improve in your ballet and grow as an artist but have no more time or energy left over to devote to your craft, what do you do? You start to train differently - value efficiency over volume. Find a cross-training method that gives you more bang for your buck. Train less so you can dance more.
Do you struggle to find time to do it all? Do you feel the pressure of the time crunch…like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done?