5 Tips How To Stay In Shape On Holiday
Summer is when many of us are taking a longer break to visit family, explore new places or relax in the sun. We get away from our daily routines, including our fitness regimes such as ballet classes.
Sometimes, although we are enjoying the freedom we have on our well-deserved break, we cannot help but feel guilty about not exercising to stay in shape. We may be relaxing outwardly, but our internal voice warns us about the day when we will face ballet class again with stiffer joints, tighter muscles and a little bit more padding.
To help you feel better: our bodies and minds do need downtime to recharge their batteries. Surprisingly, things can work better after a break. This is perhaps because our nervous system still digests and assimilates recently learned movements long after the physical action.
However, if your system is used to regular exercise a complete and sudden stop can be unhealthy. Not only may we become sluggish when no class "kick starts" us but we can also become irritable and less able to deal with stress because exercise produces chemicals in the body that boost your mood and stimulate hormones and neurotransmitters (communicator between nerve cells), that can help reduce stress (and let's be honest, going on holiday can have its stressful moments).
Exercise also regulates our blood sugar, so without it, we may feel hungrier than usual. This means we are moving less and eating more, a combination not many of us would find ideal.
My recommendation is to try to challenge yourself in other ways than you are used to in order to activate different muscle groups and thought patterns to create more balance and to allow tired muscles time to rest.
Five Ways To Stay Fit Whilst Enjoying Your Holidays:
The simplest means to stay fit is by walking. You can do it with a brisk walk on the beach, climbing in the mountains, sightseeing through cities etc. This improves your stamina almost without noticing since you are probably distracted by the many new things you see. Should you feel tired or get lower back pain, it is a sign to engage your lower belly muscles as you would in ballet class.
Swimming is another fabulous workout that strengthens the entire body. The water creates resistance without overloading your joints and breaststrokes are extremely effective for hip joint mobilisation.
You could set aside a certain time of the day or a few days a week where you train for 10 to 30 minutes. Do some simple mobilisation and core strengthening exercises followed by gentle stretching, for example (see pictures below):
shoulder and arm circles
adductor (inner thigh) stretches
relevés and calf stretches
Make sure you keep breathing. Don't worry too much about when to in- and exhale just try to breathe in rhythm with your movements.
To avoid injury always remember:
but execute all movements slowly and with control.
If you do not feel confident practising on your own you can follow my free exercise videos or download the Warm Up routines of the Holistic Ballet DVDs or the pilates class. Very few travel without their laptops, tablets or smartphones these days.
If you plan a little ahead it should be possible to accommodate a short routine in your holiday itinerary.
Pilates and Yoga are both excellent methods to keep your body in shape and increase its overall fitness. It is part of every professional dancer's training routine and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
It strengthens and lengthens the body from within that your regular ballet class cannot. I saw many times drastic improvements in students who started to complement their dance classes with Pilates or Yoga practice.
If you have never tried it, holidays might be a great opportunity as classes are offered in most places around the world.
Moderate exercise will keep you fit and energised throughout your holiday so you can return with renewed enthusiasm.
Approach your first week back in ballet class with patience. The first class after a break can feel really great as the adrenaline created by the excitement of dancing again gives you more than normal strength. Yet strangely, the second class often seems incredibly difficult, your muscles may be sore and your legs need to get used to turning out again.
Don't get frustrated, this is normal. Within a week or two you should be back to your usual level if not a better one.
If you have any questions, do get in touch. I am happy to answer any queries.
bottom: pelvic roll
top: hamstring stretch
bottom: adductor stretch