Robbie Downey - Ballet Dancer @balletfreak

How I took my flexibility to the next level by stretching less and tossing my bad stretch habits...

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"I'm optimistic about maintaining a healthy body throughout my career. Having a proper system, that I trust, was a turning point for me. You have to invest in yourself whether it is professional photos or a professional stretching system. You can't cut corners in the competitive world of dance."

Where do I even start! I bet you can relate to all of it.

  • My routine had no variety.
  • I was holding stretches for too long and I was being inconsistent.
  • My hips were overworked and under-stretched.
  • I fell into a routine of only doing stretches I like!
  • I was even stretching much more than I actually needed to on some weeks and not enough the next.
  • My routine was actually going against my long term goals.
  • The frustration was starting to get to me.
  • I was bored from the lack of variety which was also going against me and I didn’t even know it.
  • I would cry with frustration taking audition photos because I hated my lines! It literally took hours to get something I was willing to share. Now I enjoy photoshoots and I am always prepared.
  • There is a lot of pressure in audition photos especially when some of the top companies in the world use photos only to award spots to coveted training programs (i.e. Royal Ballet). The pressure is on. That's the reality. 

Now that I am following a system to properly restore my pelvis to neutral, I understand that joint positions will improve or correct everything from my tendu to my penché to pirouettes!

  • I’m learning not to cheat to get around tension in my muscles to achieve desired movements in dance.
  • Cheating is one of the top reasons hip flexors are so dysfunctional in dance.
  • Cheating in the long run actually decreases flexibility and changes everything from your lines to your technique!
  • By doing this, over time, you create wear and tear, pain and injury. You may not even realize you are cheating. It is so important to learn to assess yourself and know if your placement is correct.

     

This is tough in a day and age where some people value extreme extensions and positions over proper technique and placement. But that short term “win” can really haunt you down the road. It’s not worth it. It’s okay to aim high, and you can still get there safely, but make sure you are not gambling with your future for that quick win. Make sure you understand anatomical limitations and the results of over-stretching or extreme stretching.  

The sad part is most dancers are not taught the importance of a neutral pelvis and spine.

  • I was finally made aware of it in my later years of ballet training closer to pre-pro and professional than when I should have been learning it at a younger age.
  • The good news is it’s fixable. If dancers were being taught correctly from the get go they would have a much different experience in dance and they would enjoy much more flexibility, a healthy range of motion, less pain and injury and experience so much more success which leads to improved confidence!
  • That drive for perfection already creates so much negative self chatter and as dancers we need to be aware of it and minimize it any way we can. 


Even though I dance with a company now and my schedule is hectic I’m no longer a victim to “lack of time” (major stretch pitfall).

I simply follow a planned out, guided weekly stretch curriculum and it has systemized my approach to stretching and conditioning. It has created familiarity, and the consistency, I was lacking. It is so much more effective than what I was doing and having a routine really takes the guesswork out of it and makes me much more excited to incorporate it into my weekly regimen. I trust the program and I know that the coach, Christine, has gone above and beyond to compile safe and efficient routines. She is a former dancer with a B.S. in exercise physiology, Pilates and yoga certified with over 20 years experience helping dancers go to the next level while spending less time stretching! I'm optimistic about maintaining a healthy body throughout my career.  

I can’t express enough how life changing a proper system can be. It is so empowering to understand your own body and how it all works and relates to dance. If you are feeling discouraged or realize you are less flexible than you used to be or just cannot get past a certain plateau I highly recommend investing in a system. There is so much bad information out there and so much to remember to keep it all together. You can take the guesswork out of it and focus on other things. If you take the time to dive into all of the information you will become an expert yourself.

Maybe someday you will even be teaching other people to stretch (something I love to do)! If you are already a teacher this is a game changer for your students! You can also overcome prior bad training or bad habits. It's fixable and it's not too late.  

Photos of Robbie by @rachelnevillephoto

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"I would cry with frustration taking audition photos in the studio because I hated how my lines looked! It literally took hours to get something I was willing to share (even though I was not really excited about the results). Now I enjoy photoshoots and I am always prepared. I even get photos, in one try, in public with people watching and cars going by like it's no big deal! I'm confident when I'm cast in any role that requires leaps across the stage or an arabesque. You have to be confident and consistent in a company. So thankful for Christine's videos!" ~ Robbie