Get More Turnout with These Exercises!

Monday, January 27, 2020

Oh, turnout. Or, as we like to refer to it: rotation. We can never seem to have enough of it, right? If you're like me and have trouble even finding the muscles to activate your rotation, I'm here to share some exercises that have helped me!

You can use a theraband to do these, but I recommend getting some nice resistance bands if you can! These thicker ones with no-slip grips from Arena Strength are great, as well as the Tone It Up resistance bands you can get at Target.

Working in the most efficient way, I'll take you through 10 modified barre exercises to get those rotation muscles firing so that next time you're in class it should be easier to activate them and get the most out of your class time!

Backstory: I peaked with my dancing when I was with a company at 17-18 years old. When our season ended, I was hitting 6 turns en pointe, my extension felt great, my jumps were high.

The minute I started dancing in college, it never felt the same. I got increasingly frustrated that I was regressing, partially because the dancing was not as rigorous as in a full time company. Knowing that my parents were not going to let me leave college and come back home to return to dancing professionally, I instead left dancing and concentrated on college.

I started dancing again, recreationally, once I graduated, and contemplated returning to the professional world. But, I was not in the shape I needed to be in to get a contract, having done nothing for more than 3 years. Plus, by this time, I was working almost full time, in graduate school, engaged and marrying my husband, and by 24, I had my son.

Once my son was born via c-section, my body has never quite been the same. I opened a studio when he was a toddler, but was primarily teaching and not dancing myself, so I created some bad habits and muscle imbalances (imagine hours a day of demonstrating only one side - even though teacher training warned us about this!). I injured my left hip, and was in pain because of it for years after, which also created more imbalances because of compensating.

When we moved again, I was able to dance more full time for a while, but by this time, my muscular structure was totally off. My hips were constantly tilted forward, and my leg muscles very obviously showed all my imbalances. I went to my chiropractor at one point, and he said, "I don't want to overstep, because I know you know more about ballet than I do, but to me, your muscles are completely off. You are overbuilt in areas where you shouldn't be, and not using muscles you should be." And he could see this just from how I walked around!

The next few years, I was also limited in how much I could dance, I was taking care of my sick parents, and I used the time to really start to condition in ways to try to correct things. I did pilates regularly, and was constantly looking online for exercises to help me.

Last year, my son started training at a Cuban school, and I started taking a couple of times a week there. The teacher did not let me get away with anything! And while they focus on turnout, it's not in a way that only forces the ankles. They really emphasize the use of the hamstrings and glutes, and this has changed so much for me. I am still in class with her regularly, and this is one reason I am so sure that my son is the perfect place to train! She is helping me hold my turnout and alignment properly for the first time since I was 18 years old.

In trying to work in between classes to get the correct muscles firing so they would be stronger in class, I started experimenting with loop bands. That's how this workout was born! I feel like this is one of the best conditioning workouts to give automatic feedback in the next class, because you will feel the engagement of the muscles needed for more turnout and rotation - in a correct and safe way!

- Abby

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