Lia Cirio: The Boston Ballet Principal Has an Exercise for Everything

Cirio in Petr Zuska's D.M.J. 1953-1977. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

Just like her crystalline technique, Lia Cirio's workout is extremely fine-tuned. Consistency is key to staying on top of her game, and her cross-training regimen includes specific daily exercises for total-body stamina and strength.

Shoulder strengtheners: Cirio's arm workout involves morning Thera-Band exercises, followed by a routine with 4-pound weights in the PT room after class. “I used to have weak rotator cuffs, but these exercises have really strengthened my shoulders and made my swan arms much easier," she says.


Cirio at Fenway Park dancing "Rubies." Photo by Liza Voll, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

Stamina secret: Despite her busy schedule, Cirio aims for 30 minutes on the elliptical daily—either at the end of the day or whenever she has downtime—while pumping her arms with 2-pound hand weights for extra toning. During rehearsals for Swan Lake last fall, “sometimes I would be so tired from running the ballet that I would only do 15 minutes," she says. “But that still helped my stamina."

Bent on success: After dislocating her right knee, Cirio started doing this exercise each morning: Sitting propped up on your elbows with one knee bent and the other leg stretched out in front of you, slowly lift the straight leg up a few inches and return it to the floor. The trick is to engage the vastus medialis oblique, a muscle located above the kneecap. “Because I'm hyperextended, I have to keep reminding my knees to be strong," she says. Switch legs after 10 reps.

Cirio in "La Bayadère." Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

Dance bag snack: “It's kind of a joke at Boston Ballet that I'm the 'Goldfish girl.' I always have them around. They're little, but they're satisfying. I can just eat a handful and I'm not hungry."

Tried-and-true performance prep: Cirio has been giving herself the same pre-show barre since she went pro, and it's peppered with balances, notably one in first position with closed eyes. “Because the front is really dark, it prepares me to find my center within."

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