It’s easy to pick Acacia Schachte out in a Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet rehearsal. No matter the speed at which her sinewy limbs slice through space, her core stays steady, grounding her every move. Schachte finds that exercises based on natural coordination and momentum help her relax overworked muscles and target smaller fibers, refining her technique and letting her dance stronger, longer.
Weekly practice: Twenty to 45 minutes of Pilates mat work and yoga every day before class, in addition to group strength and conditioning sessions with a company trainer twice a week. “It’s a full-body workout with weights, jump rope and a lot of planks, push-ups and resistance training using our own bodies,” she says. “There’s also a stationary bike at Cedar Lake. It’s good for cardio, but requires less impact than running.”
Performance prep: “I’ll typically do the Pilates leg circles, hundreds, pikes and rolling like a ball, then some sun salutations and warrior poses—the really basic stuff. Then I give myself a half-hour barre.”
Daily meals: Oatmeal with nuts and fruit—often a banana—for breakfast, a warm lunch with veggies, rice, beans and grains and a salad with lentils or tofu for dinner. “I’m not much of a snacker,” she admits, though she’s making an effort to nibble on almonds or a banana in between meals for an extra boost during long rehearsal days.
Tour exceptions: “I’ve never really eaten red meat; I’ve been a vegetarian since my teens,” she says. “But I’ll have salmon once or twice a year if we’re on tour. It’s always a little harder to find good food then.”
Massage maven: Schachte uses a roller for her IT bands and quads, two tennis balls tied in a sock for her lower back, a dog ball for her glutes and calves, an acupressure board for her feet and another roller with two wooden balls that targets either side of her spine.
A reformed approach: “I’ve let go of wishing to change things about my body. It lets me work more realistically with what I have.”
Glancing at the long and sinewy Rebecca Krohn, one might not guess that the New York City Ballet principal eats about every two hours. But to keep up with the rigorous rehearsal schedule that comes with her job, Krohn has figured out a mix of strengthening, refueling and daily maintenance that keeps her on top.
On the menu: Before or after class, Krohn has a smoothie made with Greek yogurt, fruit, coconut water, spinach and sometimes half an avocado. “I also eat simple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches throughout the day. They’re not filling, but they’re satisfying. And I always keep a chocolate and peanut butter Luna protein bar in my bag in case hunger strikes.”
Cross-training: Private Pilates classes three times a week in the off-season, and on Mondays in-season. “I have a little bit of scoliosis and I always feel more even after the sessions.”
Rolling out: “I have a ball for each part of my body: small rubber balls from vending machines at grocery stores that I use in between my metatarsals; a slightly larger ball for my plantar fascia; and the next size up I use on my calves and back. The biggest, called KONG Balls, are for the front of my hips. I found them at the pet store—they’re for dogs.”
Recharge: A 15- to 20-minute cat nap between rehearsals and performances. “I lay down and put my legs up against a wall to decompress my back. Plus, your feet get so swollen from standing all day, sometimes you can barely get your pointe shoes back on.”
Stamina secrets: A lean-protein–filled meal, like a chicken breast, two hours before curtain. “It’s enough to keep me going through the evening without getting hungry. I make sure I have water on hand, and adrenaline helps. Once you’re in the zone, you just do it.”