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Boren teaching a class for an Equinox event. Photo by Will Mayer for Better Half Productions, Courtesy ABT

We all know that personal trainers can help dancers condition their bodies more effectively. But trainers who are also dancers themselves? Now that's a uniquely valuable perspective.

Take Kathyrn Boren, an American Ballet Theatre corps member who got certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine last summer, following in the footsteps of her colleagues Thomas Forster and Roman Zhurbin. Her weekly Conditioning for Dancers classes in New York City are filled with everyone from athletic men to older women (including one ABT donor who's attended every single time). But those who might get the most out of her workouts are the dance students who attend. They walk away with exercises and advice tailored for their particular challenges—coming from someone who knows those challenges intimately.

Boren recently spoke with Dance Magazine to share her best cross-training advice for dancers looking to improve their fitness.

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Ballet Stars
Kathryn Boren dancing Giselle with Ballet Frontier of Texas. Photo by Chung Lin Tseng, Courtesy Boren.

As the marathon of American Ballet Theatre's eight-week Met season comes to a close, we caught up with corps dancer Kathryn Boren to talk to her about about the importance of warming up properly before a show. After four years with the company, Boren has her pre-performance routine down to a T.

What do you do before a show?

I always take a hot shower just to start the day over and get really warm, really fast. Then I put on my makeup and get my hair ready. At 6:40 I start doing a full, basic barre and core work; I feel like it's the only way I can get back to feeling centered and know what my body is capable of doing. I'll work in my pointe shoes for one or two exercises. Then it's 15 minutes till curtain, and I have to get in my costume and get onstage.

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Boren in Balanchine's Allegro Brillante. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

When Kathryn Boren joined the corps of American Ballet Theatre last spring, after two years with Boston Ballet, it meant adjusting her cross-training schedule, too. To accommodate ABT's longer rehearsal days, she moved most of her workouts to her day off, Sunday. “I don't want to tire myself out too much during the week," Boren says. “I keep it simple, so I can push on the weekends." Here are the ins and outs of her routine.

Sunrise strengthener: After brushing her teeth, Boren does a grueling plank series with her feet lifted and pressed against a wall. She alternates a 30-second hold with 30 seconds of mountain climbers—driving one knee toward the elbow and switching legs—until she's reached two minutes. “That's the only thing I really do at home before I leave for work."

Uphill battle: Boren's Sundays at the gym typically start with 45 minutes on the elliptical. She gets her heart pumping with intervals, adjusting the incline and resistance every few minutes. Throughout the session, she'll work at steep incline levels of 10 to 13 and resistance levels of 5 to 9.

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