Working Out With Paloma Garcia-Lee

After hitting the Broadway boards in The Phantom of the Opera and Nice Work If You Can Get It, Paloma Garcia-Lee adapted to the exhausting load of an eight-show week. But now, dancing Joshua Bergasse's daredevil choreography for On the Town, she's taken on even more: Not only is she assistant dance captain, but in her role as a swing, she's prepared to go on for eight female ensemble tracks—and seven male tracks!

To stay at-the-ready, Garcia-Lee relies on a specialized fitness routine that varies with her schedule. “Since I'm usually performing about half the week, I need something that can 'waste' me the other half, so I'll go to either SoulCycle spinning or Physique 57 classes," she says. “They work for my body without hurting it. As a performer, I'm looking for something that keeps me toned, tight and includes cardio strength." On performance days, she takes a dance class instead so she's not overtired.

Garcia-Lee was an early adopter of spinning mecca Soul­Cycle when she first moved to New York City at 17. She loved the spiritual atmosphere of the 45- to 90-minute spin classes complete with toning arm exercises, pumping music and motivating instructors. “The instructors' long, lean bodies and sculpted abs and arms shattered the myth that cycling will bulk you up," she says. “When I left, I'd be wobbly, but I loved seeing how my body was changing." When a friend started working at Physique 57, Garcia-Lee found that adding the hour-long classes to her weekly lineup was her “magic potion." The high repetitions of small, dance-like movements at the barre, on the mat and with weights were a perfect counterpoint to spinning. Between the two, she amped up her endurance and added lean, toned muscle mass.

Garcia-Lee was so enamored of SoulCycle in particular that she became an instructor. “When I was in Phantom and riding all the time, my core and legs had never been stronger. It made everything easier, especially on pointe," she says. But when her contract at Nice Work began, the routine became too much. “About six months into Nice Work, I was teaching four to six classes a week—and my voice was fried," she remembers. “I developed polyps on my vocal chords from screaming in the classes and couldn't sing in the show. My voice was gone for four days." Although she doesn't teach these days, she still enjoys taking class. “You have to think about your priorities: I came to New York City to be a Broadway performer," she says. “Finding the ingredients that keep you in shape but uphold your performance is the sweet spot."


Her Go-To Snacks

“A lot of us are guilty of saying 'Oh, I want to look thin,' but that's not the answer to a strong body that can actually handle the demands of this career." To get fully nourished, Garcia-Lee loves these snacks:

• Organic apple-cinnamon brown-rice cakes

• Eggs cooked in coconut oil with goat cheese on top

• Avocado slathered on a plain rice cake

• Organic chicken

• Oranges, apples and grapes for quick energy that won't weigh you down

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Physical stillness can be one of the hardest things to master in dance. But stillness in the bigger sense—like when your career and life are on hold—goes against every dancers' natural instincts.

"Dancers are less comfortable with stillness and change than most," says TaraMarie Perri, founder and director of Perri Institute for Mind and Body and Mind Body Dancer. "Through daily discipline, we are trained to move through space and are attracted to forward momentum. Simply put, dancers are far more comfortable when they have a sense of control over the movements and when life is 'in action.' "

To regain that sense of control, and soothe some of the anxiety most of us are feeling right now, it helps to do what we know best: Get back into our bodies. Certain movements and shapes can help ground us, calm our nervous system and bring us into the present.

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