Working Out with Stacy Martorana

Martorana in Morris' Crosswalk. Photo by Stephanie Berger, courtesy MMDG.

Stacy Martorana began running as a way to escape the pressures of dance. As a freshman ballet major at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, she went from being one of the strongest dancers in her studio to one of the least advanced in class (she happily switched to a contemporary major sophomore year). “I wasn’t in many pieces and being away from home was emotionally difficult,” she says. She used running as an excuse to get out of the studio, building up slowly by alternating five minutes running with five minutes walking.

Now, as a Mark Morris Dance Group company member, she still finds time to run every morning, between 3.5 and 4.5 miles in 30 to 40 minutes. To avoid getting too comfortable, Martorana changes up her focus regularly, with intervals, distance goals or speed training. “I try to go faster than I want, get my heart pumping and really get out of breath,” she says. She prefers running indoors on a treadmill—it’s gentler on her joints and more predictable than outdoor terrain—in her lightweight, thin-soled Nikes.

The physical benefits of running are undeniable. “I recover faster from strenuous dancing, and have more energy throughout the day after my morning run,” Martorana says. Even while touring she keeps her routine, which helps her body adjust to time changes. Luckily, the exercise agrees with her body, but she keeps her mileage reasonable to avoid wear and tear. Although her IT bands and hips get tight, stretching helps to keep it at bay. Her favorite post-run stretch is downward dog (she’s also a certified yoga instructor), to release her hamstrings and calves.

Most importantly, running clarifies her mental state. She uses the time for personal reflection, and would rather not review choreography unless she’s prepping to go into a new piece. “I need running to be non-competitive, to be on my own ‘Stacy time,’ ” she says. “I can be compulsive about it because I know how good I feel after a run—I’ll find a way to fit it in no matter what!”

Her Upper-Body-Strength Routine

Since running and dancing both strengthen the lower body but neglect upper-body strength, Martorana also lifts weights several days a week. “I like the idea of looking strong, and the more balance in the body, the better!”

Bicep Curls and Overhead Press: Start with arms at your sides. Bend at the elbows to bring dumbbells to your shoulders, then flip hands to face front and lift weights over head. Slowly return to start position. 15-lb. dumbbells in each hand, 12–16 repetitions, 3 sets.

Bent over, Single-arm Rows: With one knee on a bench, bend forward until you’re parallel to the floor, with the supporting hand directly under your shoulder on the bench. The free hand holding the dumbbell bends at the elbow to lift the weight to the shoulder and back down. 25-lb. dumbbell, 12–16 repetitions, 3 sets.

Incline Push-ups: In a plank with both hands on a low bench, bend the elbows to lower the body toward the bench (in one straight line) and reverse to return to start position. 14 repetitions, 3 sets.


Breakfast On the Run

Since Martorana runs early, breakfast works best post-workout, between her run and ballet class. She eats hard-boiled eggs for their protein boost (and ease of transport) and drinks a cup of coffee and water to start the day hydrated.


Musical Note

While many runners look for strong, driving beats to motivate their workouts, Martorana listens to calm music, like Pandora's Adele station.

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