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January 13, 2020 | Nicole Zizzi, Hip Hop Cardio & Core Instructor at Girl Fit PT
Importance of Cardiovascular Training and Cross Training for Dancers and all Athletes
Hello again Girl Fit Community!
If you don’t already know me, my name is Nicole and I teach Hip Hop Cardio and Core at Girl Fit Physical Therapy! You may remember my blog about my journey through at PeriAcetabular Osteotomy and my wonderful physical therapy experience at Girl Fit. Well, I’m stronger than ever and excited to be teaching a new class at Girl Fit Physical Therapy! We created Hip Hop Cardio & Core after many requests for a more cardio based class at Girl Fit. We wanted a fun, high energy way to sweat AND continue to get strong. Cardiovascular training is an important part of getting and staying fit as well as an important injury prevention measure for athletes. “Improved cardiovascular endurance means less fatigue and less fatigue can mean less risk for injury’, says Michaela Main, PT, DPT, dance specialist and physical therapist at Girl Fit PT. For more about injury prevention in dancers from Michaela, check out her recent blog post Tips on Injury Prevention for Dancers.
I am a professional dancer in the Boston area and I run my own company Evolve Dyanmicz. I found Girl Fit Physical Therapy through my journey with hip dysplasia and I am now continuing that journey with a recent diagnosis of hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS). Working with the Physical Therapists at Girl Fit, I am constantly learning about my body and working to keep my joints strong, aligned, and pain free! Hip Hop Cardio & Core can be a great way for dancers to cross train, but it isn’t just for dancers – it is great cardio and cross training for girls in any sport or who would like a fun way to stay fit.
I grew up in a dance studio and stretching was always one of the main things my teachers focused on. My dance teachers always loved me because I was so flexible and I never complained when it came time for splits, but it turns out that I was already flexible enough! I didn’t need to stretch more… what I really needed was to stay strong in order to support my flexibility and prevent injuries. Growing up, I suffered all sorts of injuries and joint subluxations because my body wasn’t strong enough to support my hypermobile joints. It turns out that this is actually a pretty common problem among the hEDS patient population, and it is even possible that patients with hEDS (or other forms of EDS) are more likely to find themselves in sports like dancing, gymnastics, and ice skating precisely because they are more flexible than the average person. (https://www.ehlers-danlos.com/edsgad/)Now that I have a better understanding of my body, I’ve realized (with the help of all the Girl Fit physical therapists) the importance of cross training for my body.
Even if a dancer, gymnast, or skater doesn’t have EDS, it is important for he or she to supplement their stretching routine with cross training. “Ligament laxity is a continuum and you don’t have to have a diagnosis to have hypermobility – some people have very tight ligaments and some have very loose ligaments and everyone else falls somewhere in between. We all have things we need to work on and if you have looser ligaments you likely need to work a little harder than others to stay strong enough to control all of your joint mobility”, says Kate Hamilton, Girl Fit PT’s owner. The stress that we put on our joints through repetitive movements at extreme range of motions can take a toll, leading to overuse injuries. And the amount of time that young athletes are putting into their sports through specialization at such a young age can lead to overuse injuries at a young age. That is why cross training is so important!
We’ve designed the Hip Hop Cardio and Core class to fulfill the cross training needs of dancers in a way that feels just like your normal dance class and to introduce athletes of all other sports to the joy of a fun and different kind of cardio! We also include the oh so important strength exercises. We include strength exercises not only for our cores, but also for our glutes, our deep hip rotators, our backs, and our arms— all exercises that I have learned through my years working with the wonderful PTs of Girl Fit.
Hip Hop Cardio & Core starts with a three song hip hop warm up through which we get our bodies warm and our heart rates up, working on our aerobic endurance. This is cardio, but it’s not your typical running or biking cardio… because it is dancing! For me personally, it’s way easier to get my cardio in through dancing because I don’t even realize I’m doing cardio when I’m having so much fun dancing.
We then jump into our cross training exercises. Each exercise is set to music and flows with the beat of the song. The dancer in me has more fun exercising when it’s set to music, it doesn’t feel like doing the normal (and sometimes boring) reps you would do at the gym when cross training. And I do take song requests!
And finally, I like to bookend the class with some more cardio. We finish by learning a quick and fun hip hop combination that keeps our brains thinking and our blood flowing. (This is more cardio disguised as dancing!)
So if you’re a dancer, other athlete, or not an athlete at all and are looking for some cardiovascular and strength cross training but get bored counting reps or are intimidated by the thought of going to the gym, come try Hip Hop Cardio and Core with me! You don’t need any prior dance experience to participate. The dance moves are simple, easy, and fun! So come on out and join me on Wednesdays at 7:15pm for Hip Hop Cardio and Core! I promise that you won’t regret it. 🙂