Five ways to up your cross-training game at home—or not

Many Chicagoans have been sheltering in place for the last two months. Maybe you’re used to working out and rehearsing every day, or maybe staying at home provides welcome reprieve from a jam-packed schedule. Either way, you’re likely growing tired of sitting still. Maybe you even feel that traditional workouts aren’t really your “thing.” Now what? While you may be tempted to do some online shopping, you don’t need any expensive equipment to get the most out of training in the comfort of your living space! As part of our Dance Health Month series about ways to stay healthy and happy during social distancing, here are five ways you can maintain physical health and fitness when you can’t go to the gym.

Grab a Buddy

If you’re cohabitating, grab your roommate, sibling, partner or pet, and get moving! Not only can partner exercises offer the added difficulty of a counterweight, having a buddy involved in your workout can help you stay motivated to challenge each other to do that extra rep. If your buddy is a small child, you can keep them engaged while helping adopt healthy habits (parent/child yoga, anyone?!). If you’re isolating solo, dedicating a day or a time for a video chat with a friend while training or a phone call while walking outside can help you stay connected and maintain a routine during unstructured time. 

Rediscover functional training

For many dance professionals, pre-COVID work life also involved long, rigorous hours in extra jobs: waiting tables, changing kegs, shaking drinks and carrying heavy stockroom items, for example. Perhaps you spent several hours a week teaching dance classes, or wrangling small children. Say what you will about the service and hospitality sectors—it is a workout! One of the best ways to feel fit during this time is to keep doing those functional, physical activities. Think bending, lifting, squatting, pushing, pulling, reaching overhead and twisting. Grab a heavy jug of laundry detergent, scrub your tub, pull weeds or rip out that bush you hate in your backyard—simple, laborious activities can not only keep you from feeling physically sluggish, but the added benefit of feeling like you’re accomplishing something within your space will reinforce feelings of comfort, safety and self-worth. If you are feeling more motivated than usual, Chicago-based dancers and fitness professionals Sarah Gonsiorowski and Cara Sabin have teamed up to form The Lunge Ladies, which offers strength training programs focusing on functional lifting techniques, proper movement mechanics, whole foods nutrition and finding consistency in training.

So. Many. Online. Classes.

It feels like there are more online classes available than ever. Modern classesballet barreyoga, meditation, Gyrokinesis, Alexander technique, and so many other guided online work outs. They’re on Instagram Live, Facebook Live, YouTube, and Zoom—if a platform hosts videos, there’s a class there for you. This is also a great opportunity to offer extra support to friends who work in the fitness industry. Take their classes, share their handles on social media, and throw donations or tips in their Venmo if you’ve got a few dollars to spare. Additionally, reach out to fitness professionals and ask for their advice on how to target the things you’d most like to work on: Got a nagging hip? Want to target your hamstrings or glutes? Need a yoga flow to open your shoulders? Now’s the time to hire a friend for a personalized workout.

Take a bike ride

Chicago is increasingly a cyclist’s city, and riding a bike can be the best way to spend your daily foray outside (not to mention a way to stay in touch with friends). Keep up your stamina, while taking it easy on your knees. With a mask and a helmet, take advantage of the light traffic to get your workout in while avoiding all the joggers, dogwalkers and strolling couples taking up sidewalks. Keep the intensity relatively low, and don't forget that cyclists should leave a wider gap between people (i.e. avoid slipstreaming). Not into outdoor riding? Peloton is offering a free 90-day trial, and free and reduced-cost virtual classes abound for those with access to a spin bike or wind trainer, or wishing to do other types of cardio.

Dance Party!

You don’t need any special equipment or people, just a device that plays music, and a few minutes to spare. You don’t even need to stand up—test yourself with a face or hand dance from the safety of your favorite couch. If you’re feeling up to it, jam out for three minutes, then challenge yourself to groove for another 10 minutes. Grab a prop! Make a costume change! It’s your party! If you’re looking to fill your weekend social engagement void, The Fly Honeys are offering “Live from the Hive,” a free, live-streamed listening party featuring music from 10 years of the highly popular burlesque event.  At the end of this month, See Chicago Dance is teaming up with Loud Bodies and Bollywood Groove to host a happy-hour dance party on Zoom—BYOB, obviously. Let's groove together!

Lastly, know when it is time to rest

If dancers aren’t training constantly, they tend to think they’ll lose all the flexibility and endurance they worked so hard to achieve. While it’s smart to keep yourself moving and healthy—and maintain all the mental health benefits of staying active—you don’t have to feel like you’re not doing enough. Go easy on yourself during this time, and take opportunities to rest. Physical fitness is only one aspect of your overall health, and now could be a great time to focus on complete wellness: enriching close relationships, managing stress, keeping your space clean, and investing in the arts you enjoy. The studio will be there for us when we get back.


As part of this week's focus on physical health,  Athletico physical therapist Chelsea Root offers health tips and effective strategies to stay performance-ready during quarantine. Dancing Through Quarantine will take place Tuesday, May 12, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Registration is available here, or by clicking the event page below.

See Chicago Dance is still writing! Our editorial team continues to preview digital events and highlight the creative ways the dance industry is pivoting without the possibility of live performances. Don't forget to enter your events and classes in the SCD calendar, and let us know what you're up to.


Read more from our Dance Health Month series:

From Jordan Kunkel:

From Emily Loar: