5 Workout Tips From an ABT Dancer Who's Also a Personal Trainer

When Thomas Forster isn't in the gym doing his own workout, he's often coaching his colleagues.

Two years ago, the American Ballet Theatre soloist got a personal training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Now he trains fellow ABT members and teaches the ABT Studio Company a strength and conditioning class alongside fellow ABT soloist Roman Zhurbin.

He shared five of his top tips for getting into top shape.


Thomas Forster leaps onstage

Marty Sohl, courtesy ABT

Most Dancers Need Extra Cardio to Get Through Choreography

"Ballet class doesn't give you great stamina," he says, "so you need to do something else to really build that so when you have to do a variation that's 15 minutes long and you're absolutely exhausted, your body can handle it."

Exercises Don't Need to Be Complicated to Get Results

For workouts, Forster typically combines body-weight and cardio exercises that target multiple muscle groups. He believes that even simple exercises like mountain climbers can be effective as part of a high-intensity interval session. For an extra challenge, he'll add a resistance band to movements like squats or lateral walks.

Study Anatomy To Gain a Deeper Understand of How You Move

Since becoming a trainer, Forster has not only been rewarded with improved strength and endurance in his dancing, but also a deeper understanding of his body. "I gained a greater knowledge of the muscles and how they interconnect," he says, mentioning that he's now more aware of his alignment, which helps him avoid injury. "The human body is absolutely amazing."

Recovery Is Just As Important As Working Out

"A really cold shower or cold plunges seem to really help my body fight inflammation," he says.

Do This Every Day:

Forster says dancers should perform this stretch every day—it targets all the major muscle groups and improves mobility in your hips, shoulders and thoracic spine.

  • Step your right foot forward into a lunge, with the knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Your left leg should be straight behind you.
  • Place your left hand next to the inside of your right foot.
  • Twist your upper body toward your knee and reach your right arm up toward the sky.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

Latest Posts


Studio Bleu students Jaxon Keller, Samantha Halker and Alia Wiggins. Photos by Chris Stark

How Turning Boards and Practice Mats Can Revolutionize Your Dance Training

When it comes to equipment, dancers don't need much—just shoes and whatever can fit in their dance bag. But between rehearsals in the studio and performances on stage, one major piece of equipment often goes overlooked—the floor.

Dancers too often find themselves warming up on the concrete or carpet backstage, or wanting to practice in a location without a proper floor. For years, Harlequin Floors has offered a solution to this problem with its innovative turning board, offering a portable and personal floor that can be flipped between marley and wood. Now, they've revolutionized portability again with their practice mat, offering dancers the option to roll up their own personal floor and sling it over their shoulders like a yoga mat.

We spoke with experts from every corner of the dance industry to see how Harlequin's products have become their everyday essentials:

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS