While many stars appear to have mastered the art of ballroom dancing, more than ever, this season has left many celebrities on the injured list and forced to relinquish their ballroom shoes.
(LR - Dancing With The Stars - Karina Smirnoff and The Woz - Steve Wozniak - Premiere Episode - 2009 - ABC.com - All Rights Reserved).
According to New York City-based fitness expert and personal performance coach Jeff Halevy, "dancing is the nexus of art and sport, and its demands on the body can be just as tough as sports like football or basketball."
Having worked with several top ballet dancers, Jeff knows a thing or two about keeping the stars of a show in good health.
Just "Looking the Part" is Not Enough
"Looks can be deceiving," says Jeff, "some celebrities in Hollywood may look very ‘in shape' but in reality they are very susceptible to injury if they have not been training for a specific sport." Jeff notes that it is possible to develop a strong-looking physique but to have a weak core, ligaments, and tendons, which can open you up to injury.
According to Jeff, your body is most vulnerable to injury when fatigue sets in. "Most sport injuries occur on the deceleration of a movement, such as landing from a jump," says Jeff, "many dancers build up the ability to leap through the air (acceleration) but never work on deceleration movements for injury prevention on landing." It is essential to build up muscle, tendon, and ligament strength to handle the forces of deceleration.
Jeff says injured stars like Steve Wozniak and Nancy O'Dell may not appear to have similar fitness levels, but when it comes to the nature of their injuries, the same problem perpetuates. "Both Nancy and Steve suffered injuries of the leg/foot, which can be common in dancers. While Nancy is a self-proclaimed athlete, Steve has made no claims about his physical fitness level. You can see that no matter where you are at, if you are not conditioned for your sport, you are at risk to get hurt."
Preparation is Key
Jeff says it is not impossible to make it through "Dancing With The Stars" without injury. "While there is always risk associated with high impact activities, if you are prepared and your body has adjusted to the movements, you can be successful without suffering any pain."
Jeff advises a minimum of four weeks of training to learn new patterns of movement and muscle recruitment. Looking at professional athlete Misty May-Treanor, who was injured during season seven of the show, Jeff notes that sport-specific training is the key to success or failure on the dance floor. "Misty is a masterful beach volleyball player, but looking at the differing conditions between the dance floor and the beach, it's no wonder she was hurt last season," says Jeff, "Misty is a master of her body on the sand, but put her in heels, on a hardwood floor, and all the rules change."
During Competition, Take Care of Yourself
According to Jeff, hours of rehearsal and hectic schedules can play a large part in injuries. Last year, Marie Osmond fainted on stage - this could have possibly been prevented if she had given herself appropriate time off.
"Bottom line, diet is everything," says Jeff, "If you're not taking in enough fuel for the engine, the engine is going to die," Jeff adds that "you don't get to 100 mph without passing 10, 20, 30, 40, and so on, first. Start slow, make sure you are listening to your body and using good form."
Jeff says the biggest mistake most stars and laypersons make when venturing into a new athletic activity is jumping in too soon. By following simple steps and making sure you don't get ahead of your abilities, it is possible to dance without injury.
About Jeff Halevy
A former amateur fighter, Jeff Halevy is one of New York City's top fitness coaches and personal performance coaches. Jeff is the former managing director of ultra-exclusive Sitaras Fitness, whose membership includes the world's great business titans, pro athletes and discerning clientele. Knowing first hand what it takes to be in fighting shape, Jeff's watermark is a no-nonsense, high intensity approach that focuses on strength, and cardiovascular and muscular conditioning - an approach with tremendous aesthetic "side-effects."
Jeff is certified National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) trainer and utilizing his background in life coaching, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Ericksonian Hypnosis, Jeff has created a personal performance coaching system for clients with fitness and non-fitness goals. Through personal performance coaching Jeff helps clients get past limiting thoughts, fears and behaviors to maintain their peak state in life, business and relationships. Jeff received his bachelor's degree from New York University.
Jeff has also donated his time to work with the non-profit organization the Derek Jeter Foundation, where he introduced fitness and training principals to children in New York City.
For more information, please visit www.HalevyFitness.com.
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