Warm Ups and Cool Downs with Vito Bernasconi —

Warm Ups and Cool Downs are essential for dancers. It’s no different for a weekly class attendee or a full-time professional, we all need to prepare our bodies and minds, and set ourselves up for recovery.

My warm up takes me about an hour. I like having time to make sure that I’ve covered everything and also, to do anything extra if I feel I need it. Especially when I have a show to get ready for, having the time and space to focus and tune in to what my body and mind needs is key to ensuring I give a good performance.

When you’re about to do a dance class, I believe you should allow yourself at least 15 minutes to warm up. Everyone is different and requires different things for their bodies, just make sure you feel good. If I am running short on time, I usually do these basic exercises to get my body ready:

  • 5-10 minutes of jogging to increase my heart rate and blood flow
  • leg and arm swings, back twists and ankle circles to create mobility in joints
  • use a foot roller on my feet to release any muscular tightness

Before Company Class, I’ll start with Pilates, doing some work on the Reformer to work on my feet, legs or core. I’ll then head into the studio and use my spiky ball, golf ball and foot roller to massage my glutes, calves and feet. Sometimes I’ll use my hands, fingers or elbows to dig deeper into my muscles. I like to do my own Pilates mat work before class to activate my core, plus some side and front planks to engage my entire body.

Then it's time to get the blood pumping, beginning with 5-10 minutes jogging on the spot and moving my legs and arms around to get my heart rate higher and increase blood flow to my muscles and joints. Next I’ll start swinging my legs front-and-back, side-to-side and around to encourage more mobility in my joints and muscles. I’ll also perform some roll downs and back twists to activate my back, neck and core. To finish off, I’ll circle my ankles clockwise and anti-clockwise. After all this, I’m ready for class.

My cool down process involves jogging for a few minutes to bring my heart rate down to a steady level, then I’ll begin stretching. My level of intensity with stretching will depend on what the rest of the working day requires, as I find that my muscles can feel looser but also a little weaker afterwards. Before going home, I’ll stretch out my entire body to assist with the recovery process. I will also ice my legs and get a massage once a week.

Warming up and cooling down can be a quick process or something more in-depth, but is always time well spent to keep you moving at your best!