The boutique fitness craze has swept cities and Instagram accounts. Though you may not be interested in underwater cycling or trampoline yoga, some of these trendy classes have major benefits as cross-training. Use these pro tips to make sure your approach will pay off in the studio.


Barre

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Who should do it: The purpose of cross-training is to challenge your body in new ways. So a barre class—which is loosely modeled on a ballet barre—wouldn't make sense for someone taking ballet regularly, but it might be perfect for a tap or jazz dancer, or a ballet dancer during layoff, says Megan Richardson, an athletic trainer at The Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Health.

Pro tips: Barre classes often use a different range of motion than ballet classes, so take the opportunity to develop other muscles, says Alicia Ferriere, DPT, of Finish Line Physical Therapy. Let up if anything feels like it's pinching.

Boxing

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Who should do it: Anyone who wants to build upper-extremity stability, says Richardson. You'll learn to use muscles in a quick, forceful way, and work on functional core strength.

Pro tips: Make sure you're in control of your mobility. Because dancers tend to have flexible shoulders, your instructor should show you how to work from your shoulder, back and core muscles, not your joints, says Richardson. Try a private session or a small class for your first time, and avoid classes where you fight other students directly.

Spinning

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Who should do it: Dancers working on building stamina—especially for short, powerful bursts like petit allégro.

Pro tips: Look for studios with bikes that allow your shoes to clip in. According to Richardson, having your foot secured to the pedal will help you activate your hamstrings, rather than just your quads. Sit back on the widest part of the saddle and make sure your seat is at the correct height—if your knees are coming up too far, your hip flexors will take over. Many studios use metrics that allow you to compete against classmates—just make sure this doesn't push you to overdo it.

Crossfit-Style Workouts

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Who should do it: Richardson suggests these classes for dancers looking to build partnering strength, since you often learn how to lift overhead properly.

Pro tips: When done with poor form, maxing out on weight and repetitions and locking into hyperextended joints can put you at risk for ligament injury. Ferriere recommends taking classes taught at a slower pace and using lighter weights when learning new movements.

Rowing

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Who should do it: Dancers looking to build cardio, improve back strength and work upper-body muscles they normally wouldn't activate.

Pro tips: There's a risk for lower back and neck injury, says Ferriere, so be sure your legs are doing the work and that you're pushing through your heels. Don't flex too far forward—it shouldn't feel like a hamstring stretch—and stay neutral in your pelvis. Take a beginner class your first time to learn the fundamentals.

Pilates Fusion

Nathan Sayers

Who should do it: Anyone looking to build core strength, and to find length and strength in more challenging positions. Richardson calls classes like SLT (Strengthen Lengthen Tone) and ChaiseFitness "Pilates on steroids," since they incorporate machinery to intensify classic Pilates exercises.

Pro tips: "The person who is instructing you really needs to be savvy about where you need to be activating," says Richardson. "You need to be using the deep core muscles that are often weak in dancers."

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Rachel Papo

Our 8 Best Pointe Shoe Hacks

It turns out that TikTok is good for more than just viral dance challenges. Case in point: We recently stumbled across this genius pointe shoe hack for dancers with narrow heels.

Dancers are full of all kinds of crafty tricks to make their pointe shoes work for them. But don't fear: You don't need to spend hours scrolling TikTok to find the best pro tips. We rounded up a few of our favorites published in Dance Magazine over the years.

If your vamp isn't long enough, sew an elastic on top of your metatarsals.

Last year, Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Elizabeth Murphy admitted to us that her toes used to flop all the way out of her shoes when she rose up onto pointe(!). "I have really long toes and stock shoes never had a vamp long enough," she says.

Her fix? Sewing a piece of elastic (close to the drawstring but without going through it) at the top of the vamp for more support...and also special-ordering higher vamps.

Solve corns with toe socks

Nashville Ballet's Sarah Cordia told us in 2017 that toe socks are her secret weapon: "I get soft corns in between my toes because I have sweaty feet. Wearing toe socks helps keep that area dry. I found a half-toe sock called 'five-toe heelless half-boat socks' that I now wear in my pointe shoes."

(For other padding game-changers, check out these six ideas.)

Save time by recycling ribbons and elastics.

Don't waste time measuring new ribbons and elastics for every pair. Washington Ballet dancer Ashley Murphy-Wilson told us that she keeps and cycles through about 10 sets of ribbons and crisscross elastics. "It makes sewing new pairs easier because the ribbons and elastic are already at the correct length," she says. Bonus: This also makes your pointe shoe habit more environmentally friendly.

Close-up of hands sewing a pointe shoe.

Murphy-Wilson sewing her shoes

xmbphotography, by Mena Brunette, courtesy The Washington Ballet

Tie your drawstring on demi-pointe.

In 2007, New York City Ballet's Megan Fairchild gave us this tip for making sure her drawstring stays tight: "I always tie it in demi-pointe because that is when there's the biggest gap and where there's the most bagginess on the side."

Find a stronger thread.

When it comes to keeping your ribbons on, function trumps form—audiences won't be able to see your stitches from the stage. Many dancers use floss as a stronger, more secure alternative to thread. Fairchild told us she uses thick crochet thread. "Before I go onstage I sew a couple of stitches in the knot of the ribbon to tack the ends," she says. "I do a big 'X.' I have to make sure it's perfect because I'm in it for the show. It's always the very last thing I do."

Don't simply reorder your shoes on autopilot.

Even as adults, our feet keep growing and spreading as we age. Atlanta podiatrist Frank Sinkoe suggests going to a professional pointe shoe fitter at least once a year to make sure you're in the right shoe.

You might even need different sizes at different times of the year, says New York City Ballet podiatric consultant Thomas Novella. During busy periods and in warm weather, your feet might be bigger than during slow periods in the winter. Have different pairs ready for what your feet need now.

Fit *both* feet.

Don't forget that your feet might even be two different sizes. "If you're getting toenail bruises, blood blisters or other signs of compression, but only on one foot, have someone check each foot's size," Novella says. The solution? Buy two pairs at a time—one for the right foot and one for the left.

Wash off the sweat.

Blisters thrive in a sweaty pointe shoe. Whenever you can, take your feet out of your shoes between rehearsals and give them a quick rinse off in the sink. "If feet sweat, they should be washed periodically during the day with soap and water and dried well, especially between the toes," says Sinkoe.