Our 7 Favorite Dancer Workouts on YouTube

Dancers know they need to cross-train. But sometimes the last thing you want to do is trek to the gym, or throw down 30 bucks for another Pilates class.

That's where YouTube comes to the rescue. Of course, an online video can't offer the specialized guidance of an in-person instructor. But with virtually no equipment needed, these seven dancer-approved options are a super convenient way to fit in a workout right in your living room—for free.

Kathryn Morgan's Pilates Class

Length: 20 minutes

Best For: Serious core strengthening. Former New York City Ballet soloist Kathryn Morgan knows exactly what it takes to build the kind of center that dancers need. While demonstrating, she also warns about common errors dancers make when performing the exercises (she knows our bad habits all too well).

Warning: She leaves little rest for the weary between exercises. Be prepared to sweat.

Extension & Developpé Builder

Length: 29 minutes

Best For: Improving your extensions. This workout strengthens and stretches virtually all the muscles involved in developpés, from your core to your glutes and hamstrings. Largely based on a traditional floor barre, the workout is done on your back and knees, with one section that moves in and out of a plank.

Bonus: The trainer, Alessia Lugoboni, is a former Royal New Zealand Ballet dancer, and her Lazy Dancer Tips channel is stocked with all kinds of workout videos for dancers (or those who want to look like them).

New York City Ballet Workout

Length: 60 minutes

Best For: A full-body, ballet-based sweat session. This video distills a traditional ballet class down to a stationary workout done entirely without a barre. It was designed in collaboration with New York Sports Club to strengthen the body using classical dance movements.

But, Wait: Yes, that's Peter Martins narrating the exercises. This oldie but goodie is a classic from 2001. Dancers have sworn by this video and its sequel for years.

Yoga For Dancers

Length: 24 minutes

Best For: Stretching out and strengthening your core, upper body and glutes. This trainer adds in plenty of balance challenges, too, making it a great well-rounded option when you're on layoff.

Our Favorite Part: The dog lounging in the background offers some seriously relaxing summer chill-out vibes.

Agility Workout

Length: 20 minutes

Best For: Working on balance and coordination. This class is built around a small circle—which you can create with a jump rope, a yoga strap or even a series of pencils—to challenge your agility with fast footwork, small jumps and balances. Bonus: The cardio component will also boost your stamina.

We Know: Some of the exercises look a little silly, but trust us, they're killer.

Plyometric Drills

Length: 12 minutes

Best For: Increasing the power and height of your jumps. All kinds of athletes swear by plyometrics to increase their power and jump height. These drills may seem basic, but they can produce real results.

Disclaimer: Make sure you warm up first, and have a sturdy chair or bench handy.

Equipment-Free Arm Toners

Length: 4 minutes

Best For: Strengthening your arms without dumbbells. If you don't have access to any equipment, these simple exercise offer a quick but effective substitute.

Why We Love It: Because you can feel the burn and finish up in less than five minutes.

Latest Posts

Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

December 2020