April Day is celebrating her 16th season with The Joffrey Ballet. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet.

Joffrey Ballet Star April Daly's Conditioning Tips and Post-Show Recovery Secrets

Joffrey Ballet Star April Daly shares how she stays conditioned throughout the season—and makes her summers intense.


Sweet 16

This fall marks April Daly's 16th season with The Joffrey Ballet. "Every year I learn more and more," she says of how she conditions and cares for her body. For example, two years ago, a disc issue in her lower back reinforced the importance of core strength. "I'm a jumper," she says, "so I realized even more that you have to have a strong core and stabilize the back muscles to cushion the impact when you're jumping."


Cardio and conditioning

With Fabrice Calmels in Christopher Wheeldon's Continuum. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet.

Daly's cross-training is diverse, including everything from elliptical workouts for stamina to Pilates mat and reformer exercises for her core. She also does Gyrotonic and a variety of exercises she's learned in physical therapy. You'll often find her in the studio doing stability work on a BOSU ball or upper-body toning with a Thera-Band.

Favorite gym class

Daly is hooked on a group fitness class called yoga sculpt, which incorporates light hand weights with yoga sequences for a mix of strengthening and stretching. "You feel like you're getting a complete workout," she says. And it's a nice counterpart to ballet: "We're so used to turning out all the time, so it's good to revisit the parallel positions."

These boots aren't made for walking

With Miguel Blanco in Swan Lake. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet.

The Joffrey recently added compression boots to its therapy equipment. "They've become a new part of my regimen in the theater," says Daly. Before and after performances, she'll recline for about 15 minutes while wearing the long boots, which inflate with air and provide pulsing pressure to the legs and feet. "They relax my legs, but not to the point that I can't dance." And, she says, they even cut down on post-show soreness.

Summer study for the pros

Daly often spends summers in Florida, training with renowned Cuban teacher Magaly Suárez, alongside professional dancers from other companies. "It's incredible to have a fresh pair of eyes," says Daly. During the regular season, she tends to approach company class as a warm-up for rehearsals, but over the summer, class is like a boot camp. "She's on you from the second you do your first plié. She brings you back to the basics," says Daly. "I'm dying by the end of barre, but I don't have a six-hour day afterwards, so I can really put my all into it."

Her Post-Show Wind-Down

With Miguel Blanco in Swan Lake. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet.

  • compression boots at the theater
  • a meal, ranging from a bowl of pasta to a cheese plate depending on how hungry she is
  • a hot bath at home
  • an ice bath for her calves and feet to rejuvenate them for the next day
  • a movie

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