Your Best Body: Cross-Continental Training

Published in the October/November 2012 issue.

Texas native Megan Zimny Gray only joined Dutch National Ballet in 2010, but her cross-training philosophy seems deeply European. “I’m not one of those dancers who gets on exercise bikes or treadmills,” says Gray, who was promoted to second soloist this season. “I’d so much rather go to the beach for a swim or just run around and play soccer.”

Go-To Workout: Like any good Amsterdamer, she prefers to ride her bike to work (about 25 minutes each way), but only does it when rehearsals aren’t too heavy.

Problem Spot: Lower legs. “My feet and ankles are weak. I always warm up before class with some sort of footwork, like gripping a small ball with my toes and arch, or trying to balance on a wobble board, which activates all those tiny muscles down there.”

Thera-Band Exercise: Gray ties the band in a loop around the leg of a barre and her ankles, then does two relevé pliés facing in the direction of each number on the face of a clock. “I go around in a complete circle, and with each number I feel the resistance challenging different muscles.”

Appointments: Gray visits the physical therapist up to three times a week for general maintenance. Anywhere from once a week to once a month she sees DNB’s Mensendieck therapist, an alignment specialist who helps dancers move in an anatomically healthy way. And Gray usually books one of the company’s four staff masseuses once a week: “In the U.S., a massage was a luxury; here it’s about prevention. They usually focus on my lower legs, but they’ll do anything I want. It’s amazing.”