Working out is probably one of the least appealing activities to add to a busy schedule of dancing. As dancers, we are pushing our cardiovascular strength to the limit during performances, but exercise little cardio on a day-to-day basis. Technique class is not very cardio heavy, and most of the time in rehearsals you are stopping and starting for notes. In turn, you are not actually building the strength necessary in order to prepare your body for getting through work that challenges your physical stamina on stage. That’s where cross training comes in. I prefer the term “cross train” to “work out,” as dancers are already fit, but can utilize other forms of exercise in order to enhance their performance abilities. Regular cardio sessions will increase your stamina, making it easier when you’re pushing through a difficult and long ballet. Not only does this enable you to focus on your technique and the choreography, but it also prevents fatigue related injuries. I shoot for 3 cardio sessions a week, depending on my rehearsal schedule. Sometimes I just go at a steady state for 40 minutes, but when that gets monotonous I incorporate High Intensity Interval Training methods. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a method of cardiovascular activity in which you alternate intense bursts of sprinting with rest periods. HIIT lowers insulin resistance and provide improved athletic performance, improved glucose metabolism, and improved fat burning. These short and killer workouts mimic what a dancer does on stage. In a pas de deux, you usually have the partnered section (sprints), bows (rest period), female variation (sprint), male variation (rest), and the coda (sprint). This also applies to a corps member’s job in Swan Lake. The rest periods would consist of standing on the side in a line while the principals dance, and then immediately jumping around for the coda the sprinting state. You can complete these workouts on a treadmill, bike, elliptical, or any cardio machine. One of my favorite ways to do cardio is on the elliptical machine. It’s low impact, so it doesn’t put any unnecessary stress on your joints. This is my favorite workout that is a combination of different workouts that I’ve tried. I aim to do this at least once a week.
Alexandra Pullen was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and was raised in Chicago, Illinois, where she began her initial ballet training at a local community center. Pullen studied at Dance Center Evanston, Evanston School of Ballet, and Chicago Ballet Arts, and the Ruth Page School of Dance, where she joined their company, the Civic Ballet of Chicago.
She trained on scholarship at the Joffrey Academy of Ballet in Chicago under Anna Reznik and Alexei Kremnev. She toured with the Joffrey Trainees to perform as Clara in The Nutcracker Suite. She studied on scholarship at summer programs of the San Francisco Ballet School, School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre.
In 2012, Pullen competed in the Youth America Grand Prix Chicago Semi-Finals and received a gold medal in the classical category and a silver medal in the contemporary category. She was a Finalist in New York City. In September 2012, Pullen was awarded the Shoot for Change Scholarship to attend the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre, and joined ABT Studio Company two weeks later. Pullen joined ABT as an apprentice 2013 and was promoted to the corps de ballet in 2014. With ABT, Pullen’s rep included Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, Giselle, Swan Lake, Coppelia, Ashton’s The Dream, Manon, Cinderella, Gaite Parisienne, Les Sylphide, La Bayadere, and Twyla Tharp’s Bach Partita. She toured ABT to destinations such as Abu Dhabi, Australia, Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis. This is her second season with Colorado Ballet.