The Broadway dancer teaches 12 fitness classes a week.
Vo appreciates the community atmosphere of group classes. Photo by Robert Hart.
Christopher Vo’s career redefines the term “impressive resumé.” He’s danced with Lar Lubovich, on TV’s “Smash,” in the national tour of Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly Away, and now appears in Broadway’s The King and I. But since graduating from Juilliard in 2008, he’s also maintained a parallel career as a group fitness instructor at Equinox Fitness Club. After teaching Zumba for five years, today he leads a range of classes exclusive to Equinox: Tabata, Metcon3, Ropes and Rowers, The Cut, Body Sculptand EQX Barre Burn. All told, his weekly routine consists of performing in eight shows, teaching 12 classes and taking five.
Most of the classes he teaches focus on his favorite type of fitness, high-intensity interval training. Bouts of high-intensity intervals followed by rest intervals, in conjunction with smart compound-movement patterns, result in burning more calories during class and even long after the workout is finished. “Tabata classes, which are 8 rounds of exercises, each for 4 minutes of working for 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds, are based on the findings of a Japanese scientist,” he says. “They force you to work at maximum intensity so you are continuously burning calories.”
Meanwhile, EQX Barre Burn and Body Sculpt are designed to heighten proprioception and help lift, lengthen and tone. Vo designed his EQX Barre Burn class to be similar to other barre approaches, integrating dance, Pilates and yoga-inspired movements with light weights, a yoga block and body barre. He finds it particularly helpful when recovering from injury, or whenever he needs to reconnect with his body. “The light weights and high repetition help retrain the body’s motor mechanics,” he says. “It’s a great add-on with physical therapy.”
This diverse blend helps Vo balance his body. “So much of dance is one-sided, especially on Broadway, when you’re doing something eight times a week,” he says. It also improves his endurance, which dancers often lack due to the stop-and-start nature of dancing.
Vo finds group classes translate to the stage from a mental standpoint, too. “They all have a community component to them,” he says. “On Broadway, so much of it is about ensemble work. Moving together in a class environment helps you tune in to the people around you, just as you do in a show.”
Because of Vo’s intense workload, he relies on a constant intake of high-protein snacks. Favorites include:
The cast of Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise in rehearsal. Photo by Stephanie Berger, Courtesy The Shed
Akram Khan loves to dive into genres he is unfamiliar with. While his own movement vocabulary is a hybrid of kathak and contemporary dance, he has choreographed a new Giselle for English National Ballet, collaborated with flamenco artist Israel Galván and made a dance theater duet with film star Juliette Binoche. Now, in between touring Xenos, his final full-length solo, and several other projects, he's found time to tackle kung fu. Khan is part of the collaborative team behind Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise, a blockbuster musical based on themes of migration and the fight for survival, running June 22–July 27. Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and featuring a score that remixes songs by Sia, it's part of the inaugural season of The Shed, a new venue in New York City.