Dancer Conditioning: Inspiration For The Tired Dancer

by Marketing Intern Rachael Appold

I think it goes without saying that dancers are some of the strongest people in the world. We tend to be perfectionists, drilling technique and performance quality into our bodies and brains, then hitting the gym afterward. I like to think of myself as a dance perfectionist, too, but with one minor difference: I am SO. LAZY.  Sure, I work hard in dance class and give it my all during performances. But when presented with a choice between hitting the gym after a long dance rehearsal, or wrapping myself in a blanket while watching Netflix and drinking hot coco, it’s extremely difficult for me not to choose the latter.

So when my friend Maddie asked me to take Maurice Johnson’s Dancer Conditioning class with her, I was a little hesitant to leave my warm house and venture out to the Joy of Motion Bethesda studio. However, I have taken class with Maurice before and I absolutely loved his high energy and fun dance combinations. So I wiped off my hot chocolate mustache and headed off to class!

When I arrived at the JOMDC Bethesda studio, I admit that I was feeling a little self-conscious. I had never taken dancer conditioning before, and like I said: I am SO. LAZY. Would the workout be too difficult? Would I embarrass myself in front of the other students who had been coming to class week after week? I asked one student whether I should leave my shoes on or take them off, admitting that I was new to the class. Immediately, all of the other students gathered around, praising Maurice and the workout he provided in this class. One student named Julie told me that Dancer Conditioning was “a great way to end the week!”

I was feeling a bit more confident as the class began. Maurice quickly went over the format of the class: we would begin with 12 straight minutes of cardio(my heart jumped as he said this), which would lead into strengthening exercises for the whole body. Then, we would end with a stretching/alignment session.  I loved that Maurice told us what we would be doing throughout the class ahead of time; leaping into an intense workout is much more difficult when you’re not prepared.

50 jumping jacks, 16 burpees, and 20 ab curls later, I was drenched in sweat! Maurice provided a workout suited for Superman himself. I’ll be the first to admit, the burpees gave me the blues. As lazy as I am, I also tend to be a showoff. So when Maurice gave us the option of doing regular burpees, or doing burpees without jumping, I decided to take the first option. After the first two burpees, though I realized that I may be better off working my way up to jumps. But even when I slowed down and modified my movement, Maurice shouted out words of encouragement. “You all know your bodies”, Maurice stated at the beginning of class. “You can modify anything to keep yourself safe.”

By the time our stretching session began, I was feeling super energized! I almost wanted to continue the core strength exercises for an extra five minutes. Maurice turned off the lights while we pulled out some yoga mats. This was my favorite part of the class. It was super relaxing to work through a guided stretch after such a powerful workout. The cardio and strengthening had made my muscles warm and more flexible, which is always a plus. Maurice walked around the class, giving each of us corrections and more words of encouragement.

I walked away from that class feeling powerful, relaxed, and alert, all at the same time. I was so glad that I had decided to leave my bed and fit an end-of-the-day workout out into my busy, *cough*lounge-around-time*cough* schedule.
As the class ended, I asked Maurice how dancers could benefit from taking the class. “Dancers can improve their strength, endurance, and of course, flexibility,” Maurice said. “And the benefits are the same, no matter how much dance experience you have.

So what can a new Dancer Conditioning student expect from the class? “You can expect a hardcore sweat,” Maurice said, as other students nodded in agreement. “You can also expect cardio, a full-body release, which is the stretching portion, and you can expect to hit every muscle group and tie it all together.” I had to wholeheartedly agree. Adding in my own advice for taking Dancer Conditioning, wear comfortable, loose workout clothing and don’t forget to bring water.

Are you interested in challenging yourself in a Dancer Conditioning class? You can sign up for Maurice’s class here, or view the entire drop-in class schedule here.