I’m thrilled to share that Michal Harvey will start teaching at Spiral Spine Pilates in mid-November. I had the pleasure of training Michal, and can’t wait for you to learn from her. Her unique teaching style is reflective of her background as a professional ballet dancer and her pure joy of movement. You can learn more about her background here and find Michal in the studio on Saturdays.
Below, Michal shares her favorites exercises for keeping a dancer’s body conditioned. Welcome to the studio, Michal!
Pilates has always been an important part of my life, especially when I was a professional ballet dancer. During that time, I used it to help my body keep up with the demands of ballet and balance out uneven muscles. Pilates also helped me recover from multiple, dance-related injuries, including those I acquired in my knees and back. It helped me heal and return to dance time and time again, so I have an intimate knowledge of its power to help heal dancers.
When I teach dancers, some of my favorite exercises are the ones I performed daily during my dance career. I’m so excited to share them with you, and can’t wait to teach them to you in the studio. Whether or not you’re a dancer, I’m positive you’ll enjoy their benefits.
Magician on the Cadillac with leg movements
Push your feet firmly in the loops to help activate the posterior muscular line, which will help lift your bottom in the air. Your goal is to get your body in a straight line, from your feet to your mid-back. Once you’re in magician, keep your torso still and add your favorite leg movements, like scissors, circles, and walking.
I love this exercise because it strengthens the back of my body, especially my legs. I find the back of the body often forgotten in cross-training and can end up too weak in comparison to the front. The other great benefit of magician is you learn to move your legs independently from your torso. While this is important for many activities, like walking, it is especially important for dancers.
Side sit-ups on the Chair
Lie on your side on the top of the Chair and place your hand on the peddle. Press the pedal down with your hand, making sure that your shoulder is above your wrist. Stack up your legs–hip over hip, knee over knee, and foot over foot. Exhale and lift the peddle up while curving your upper body up to the ceiling like a crescent moon. Once you’ve done 8-10 reps, go to the other side.
This exercise continually challenges my balance, which is always good for dancers who literally balance on their toes. I like that this exercise forces me to be constantly in tune with my alignment so I don’t fall over. Additionally, it gives my obliques a challenging workout and helps me quickly identify if one side is as strong as the other.
Arabesque on the Reformer
Stand on the reformer carriage with the hands on the footbar. Place the ball of one foot in front of the shoulder blocks and point the other foot and place it on top of the same shoulder block. Your hips should be piked towards the ceiling. Push the carriage out ending in a plank. When you pike up next time allow the leg with the pointed foot to raise into the air as high as you can lift it. Lower the leg back down and return to a plank. When the leg goes into the air, simultaneously allow the shoulder girdle to drop down as well. Do 3-4 times and repeat on the other side.
I love this exercise for the full body coordination and balance it requires. It’s also really nice for dancers because it mimics the arabesque we do in class. However, the involvement of your upper body makes it something new and different, forcing you to focus and be precise with your movements. It’s also a great challenge for my advanced clients.
Even though I hung up my pointe shoes many years ago, I still use Pilates to keep my joints mobile and happy. Whether you’re a current or former dancer, I look forward to sharing my knowledge and love of Pilates with you.