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5 Exercises that Build a Dancer’s Endurance

As we’ve learned, there are plenty of changes we can make to our eating and sleeping habits in order to maximize the energy we can pump out during a social or performance. Like any skill however, our muscles can also adapt to the greater energy output, so we can dance better, for longer. So what are some great exercises that can give us this ‘dancer’s endurance’?

When trying the activities below, remember that you want to take your heart rate out of it’s normal comfort zone, so it adapts to higher intensities of activity. Improve your endurance by improving the frequency of your exercises – 3 times a week is good for most people. Here’s a great way to keep track of your improvement:

  1. Take your heart rate while completely relaxed. Record this as your Resting Heart Rate (RHR)
  2. Do a gentle activity – a slow jog or a couple laps in the pool do nicely. Stop, take your heart rate again, and record this as your Gentle Activity Heart Rate (GE HR)
  3. Now do something really strenuous – sprint, swim as hard as you can, do fast jumping jacks or burpees for 30s. Stop and check your heart rate once more, recording under Maximal Heart Rate (MHR)

Your goal is to lower your RHR and GE HR, while reducing the time it takes to get there from your MHR. Check weekly and record the results in a logbook.

1. Daily Activities

If you are new to endurance training and tend to spend your time tied to a desk, small daily changes are best to start. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, jog or walk briskly when running errands, maybe a short bike ride if you’re feeling inspired. Your aim should be to start getting used to the higher level of physical activity, so if you can’t break a sweat doing this, upgrade to one of the 4 options below.

2. Jogging

Good for enjoying outdoor ambience with exercise. Start with 20-30m of jogging, alternating between about 65% of your MHR and 30s sprints at 90% MHR. Leave time in between each sprint for your heart to slow down to jogging pace again. Run on soft ground or track – harder surfaces could lead to shelling out extra money for knee surgery on top of your dance lessons.

3. Swimming

Water provides a great natural form of resistance training – great if muscle and joint pains are a daily challenge. As with jogging, try alternating between lower and higher intensities. Check out your local community centre, or even the seaside if the weather permits.

4. Weight-Lifting

Cardio training is important, but being able to lift things (like our partners) for longer without tiring is a form of endurance too. Core exercises like planks or leg raises are important, before branching out into the lifting muscles, like triceps and hamstrings. Try Googling ‘dancer strength training’ for ideas, or call up a personal trainer for advice.

5. Fitness Dances

As the Zumba slogan goes: ‘party yourself into shape!’ While you may have to do a bit of searching to find an instructor who matches your desired intensity, you have the extra motivation of a class full of like-minded dance-a-holics. Gents might find the ratios rather skewed away from them, but what better way to earn the admiration of your female companions? There are numerous fitness dances out there – Joy of Dance offers Zumba, Nia, and Ginga, for instance.

Next week, we return to dance technique, and ask: what can you change in how you dance that will not only make it look effortless, but feel effortless as well?


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