The Workout: Melissa Hamilton

The Royal Ballet soloist stays in shape by swimming laps—and reading books.
Published in the February/March 2013 issue.

Hamilton with Eric Underwood in Wayne McGregor’s "Infra." Photo by Bill Cooper.

Melissa Hamilton has the ideal ballet body: endless legs, a streamlined silhouette, eye-popping arches. But that doesn’t mean the Royal Ballet soloist gets to take it easy. It just gives her a different set of challenges.

Pre-class routine: Hamilton doesn’t spend much time stretching: “My body’s already quite elastic as it is,” she says. Instead, she strengthens her core with sit-ups and planks. “I also lie on my stomach, and lift my upper back.”
About those feet: “A foot with a high arch tends to be weaker. I have to use a Thera-Band daily, rolling through the metatarsal, and working against the resistance in all directions so my ankle joint gets stronger.”
Outside the studio: When her schedule permits, Hamilton goes swimming at least twice a week, doing the breaststroke for about 15 to 20 minutes. “It’s an all-body workout, but for me, it’s more about relaxation than anything. You’re just by yourself with your thoughts. It puts my body back into place.”
Her trick for staying centered: Reading books. ““It’’s great escapism from however many ballets I’m rehearsing. Right now, I’’m actually reading Federico García Lorca’’s The House of Bernarda Alba because we’re dancing Kenneth MacMillan’s Las Hermanas, based on the play. Even still, it helps me to switch off a little bit.”