By Stephanie S. Saunders

Whether you take ballet six times a week, or just loved tap dancing as a kid . . . once a dancer, always a dancer. Even though we outgrow our love for pink tights and tutus, we never really give up our love of movement—not to mention our desire to have a dancer's long, lean body. Since dance might be the only athletic endeavor where most practice sessions are done in front of a mirror, it's understandable that dancers are among the most aesthetically obsessed athletes on the planet. So why is it that many dancers still struggle to acquire the perfect body, even with all of the hours of training? And what does this mean for those who might still take classes occasionally—or who have hung up their dancing shoes long ago?


The reason anyone's body stops changing is because it's adapted to the movement you've given it to do. When you've trained the same way since you were four, standing at the same barre and doing the same grande jet├ęs across the floor, your body becomes extremely efficient at what it's doing. This is also true if you've been doing 60 minutes on a Stairmaster® at level 12 for the last 3 years. Simply put, your body has no reason to change.

That is, until now. Welcome to the latest Beachbody® hybrid: P90X®/INSANITY®/dance.

Why P90X and INSANITY?

P90X and INSANITY are two very intense training systems, both designed to get you into the best shape of your life. And simply completing one of these programs would probably alter your body considerably. But here's another little-known fact about dancers, from the amateur to the professional: Most are bored with exercise they can't do in a dance studio. Admit it, nothing is as fun as dancing. And that's OK, 'cause this hybrid program will keep the boredom at bay while stimulating your muscles in whole new ways. The resistance training and intense cardiovascular conditioning will alter your physique while all the elasticity will keep you feeling like a rubber band. And you can still take dance class (or start again, if you've had some time off).

When to begin

He's active with his sons, going swimming, fishing, and to the park. His change has affected many people around him, inspiring them to exercise and eat healthily, too. Beyond all the compliments he now receives about his appearance, Jeremy is gratified to be an inspiration to others and see their healthy success.

If you're an active dancer rehearsing or performing in a show, you should wait until the job is completed before beginning an X/INSANITY hybrid program because of the soreness you'll most likely encounter initially. Hindering your ability to perform or dance is not what you're looking for. If you dance for exercise or fun, though, this is the perfect time. And should you not be dancing presently, but still want a dancer's lean lines, consider this hybrid program and perhaps add a dance DVD into the mix.

Schedule your hybrid workouts at opposite times of day from whatever class you're taking. As you'll see in the mock schedule section, you should do your intense plyometric or lower-body resistance training on days when you're not in dance class, and you should do your upper-body and flexibility training the days when you are.

Foundation

Dance is amazing at working most of the major muscle groups in your body, and most dancers have a pretty strong core and good balance. What many dancers lack is muscle in the upper extremities and high-intensity cardiovascular capacity. Most also deal with a huge amount of muscular imbalance. If you're a recreational dancer, you might have fewer of these imbalances, but you may not have the same amount of core strength or flexibility as a pro. P90X and INSANITY combined should solve all these problems.

Periodization

Periodization is a method of alternating training loads to produce peak performance for a specific event. And it's something dancers don't really do. Herein lies the difference between dance and most other athletics: Dance is an art form that is never mastered. It's not quite like running, where the fastest one wins. There's always a bigger jump, another turn, or a higher extension to master. So you keep pushing through until you end up injured or too old to care anymore. Ironically, this is another reason why dancers (and those who aspire to look like them) can fail to get their bodies to their full potential. You need to learn to give your body time to adapt to the load of work you're giving it, and then begin to increase that workload. Train in cycles and shock your system into changing.

Recovery

Dancers, both professional and recreational, also need to learn to allow for recovery. Because soreness is second nature to a dancer, you think you're invincible and just keep going. So not true. Because your training will be in cycles, and will be very intense, you must adhere to the recovery weeks and not push so hard. Also, your muscles need 1 day of rest each week, which means all you get to do is stretch.

Putting it together

Hopefully you've read Steve Edwards' entire series on customizing P90X and hybrid programs. If not, it has invaluable information that's worth looking back at. Steve is very specific in stating that if you're unable to complete either P90X or INSANITY on its own, a hybrid of the two will not serve you well. This still rings true. This dance hybrid is offered, assuming that you're in excellent physical condition and are hopefully dancing on a regular basis. If you're someone who takes a cardio hip-hop class once a year at the gym, this hybrid isn't really intended for you. It doesn't mean you can't try it, but make sure you're at a physical level where you're able to complete all three exercise systems on their own, before combining them. If you're not enrolled in dance classes at all, you could use a dance DVD from the Yoga Booty Ballet® Ab and Butt Makeover series or Shaun T's Dance Party Series in place of the dance classes.

Schedules

The following is based on P90X Lean and Doubles, INSANITY, and a mock dance schedule. You will, of course, have to tweak the formula to fit your schedule, as every dancer—or those who desire the physique of one—takes a different amount of dance classes per week. Some take two; others take ten, which obviously is a different amount of stress on the body. Also, since most forms of dance are more intense on the lower body muscles, we're trying to avoid overtraining them. So however you adjust the schedule, make sure you're not completing a brutal leg or plyometric workout on the same day as a 3-hour dance class. If you're not presently in a dance class, you could skip the dance workouts or use a Yoga Booty Ballet or Shaun T video, as suggested previously. Also, although we're following a Doubles schedule, we'll focus more on flexibility, assuming you'll get cardiovascular work in your dance classes. There are few forms of dance that don't require great elasticity, so maintaining those long, lean, pliable muscles remains important.

Weeks 1, 2, 3

Day 1 AM: P90X Core Synergistics PM: Ballet Class
Day 2 AM: INSANITY Plyometric Cardio Circuit
Day 3: AM: Dance Class PM: P90X Shoulders & Arms, Ab RipperX
Day 4: AM: INSANITY Pure Cardio & Abs
Day 5: AM: P90X Yoga X PM: Dance Class
Day 6: AM: P90X Legs & Back
Day 7: Rest or P90X Stretch X

Recovery Week 4

Day 1: AM: P90X Yoga X PM: Dance Class
Day 2: AM: P90X Kenpo X
Day 3: AM: Dance Class PM: P90X Stretch X
Day 4: AM: INSANITY Core Cardio & Balance
Day 5: AM: P90X Core Synergistics PM: Dance Class
Day 6: AM: P90X Yoga X
Day 7: Rest or P90X Stretch X

Weeks 5, 6, 7

Day 1: AM: Dance Class PM: P90X Core Synergistics
Day 2: AM: INSANITY Cardio Power & Resistance PM: P90X Kenpo X
Day 3: AM: P90X Chest, Shoulders & Triceps, Ab Ripper X PM: Dance Class
Day 4: AM: INSANITY Cardio Circuit, Cardio Abs PM: P90X Legs & Back
Day 5: AM: Dance Class PM: P90X Yoga X
Day 6: AM: INSANITY Cardio Recovery, Cardio Abs
Day 7: Rest or P90X Stretch X

Recovery Week 8

Day 1: AM: P90X Yoga X PM: Dance Class
Day 2: AM: P90X Kenpo X
Day 3: AM: Dance Class PM: P90X Stretch X
Day 4: AM: INSANITY Core Cardio & Balance
Day 5: AM: P90X Core Synergistics PM: Dance Class
Day 6: AM: P90X Yoga X
Day 7: Rest or P90X Stretch X

Week 9, 10, 11

Day 1: AM: Dance Class PM: P90X Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X
Day 2: AM: INSANITY Max Interval Plyo PM: P90X Core Synergistics
Day 3: AM: P90X Cardio X PM: Dance Class
Day 4: AM: INSANITY Max Cardio Conditioning & Abs PM: P90X Yoga X
Day 5: AM: Dance Class PM: P90 X Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X
Day 6: AM: INSANITY Max Interval Circuit, Cardio Abs PM: P90X Kenpo X
Day 7: Rest or P90X Stretch X

Recovery Week 12

Day 1: AM: P90X Yoga X PM: Dance Class
Day 2: AM: P90X Kenpo X
Day 3: AM: Dance Class PM: P90X Stretch X
Day 4: AM: INSANITY Core Cardio & Balance
Day 5: AM: P90X Core Synergistics PM: Dance Class
Day 6: AM: P90X Yoga X
Day 7: Rest or P90X Stretch X

Ted Shawn, the great pioneer of modern dance, once said, "Dance is the only art in which we ourselves are the stuff of which it is made." This is part of the reason that having a beautiful physique makes dance so much more appealing to see. So whether you're dancing in a company, or just taking classes for fun, use P90X and INSANITY with your classes to acquire the perfect canvas to paint on. You'll also find that you're stronger, have greater stamina, can jump higher, and might be even more flexible than you were 12 weeks ago. Now that's good stuff.

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