Prima ballerina Jade Wood has been dancing since she was 3 – but that’s not the only exercise she swears by.
From Swan Lake to Sleeping Beauty Cairns-born ballerina Jade Wood has a CV that exudes the romance you’d expect a professional dancer’s would. But Wood’s exercise regime isn’t all about barre exercises and delicate balancing. There are leg presses, weight lifting and bodyweight exercises involved – turnouts and tutus are tough.
What does a typical day look like for you – including meals, training and unwinding?
“My day always starts with breakfast and a coffee! Six days a week, we start class at 10:30am or 11am which lasts for 1h15m. This is our chance to wake up the body and brain and get all our muscles firing, and work on/ maintain our ballet fitness and technique.
“Then we will start rehearsals for an upcoming ballet, either until 6:30pm for a non-performance day or until 3pm for a performance day. On a non-performance day we have a lunch break for 1h15m, but on a day we have a show our break is at 3pm and I have until about 5:30pm to eat, rest, sew my pointe shoes, have a massage/physiotherapy!
“Then it’s time for hair and makeup, which we do ourselves. We do a warmup at 6:30pm for 30 minutes and the curtain goes up at 7:30pm.
“Different ballets finish at different times depending, on which ballet it is and what roles you are performing that night. Curtain down is usually between 10 and 10:30pm, then it’s time to take off my makeup and head home. I usually have a small meal when I get home.
“Some days, we have two shows a day so we don’t rehearse those days. We do up to 8 shows a week and around 200 shows a year, traveling throughout Australia and overseas.”
What is the biggest challenge you face as a professional ballerina?
“Because our training and performance schedule is so busy, performing up to 8 shows a week, it is easy to feel tired and doing so much physical activity can make your body pretty sore! It requires a lot of maintenance including physiotherapy, massage, recovery, a healthy diet and most of all – sleep! That way I can give myself the best chance to perform at my optimal level.”
How do you stay focused – especially as your health and wellness is interconnected with your career?
“Not only is it important to be healthy and injury-free, but I find that I perform the best when I’m happy. Luckily I have an amazing support group of family, friends and colleagues that are so good to me. If I’m ever feeling anxious or nervous about getting through a big week of performances and rehearsals, I just take one day at a time, one rehearsal at a time and try not to get ahead of myself and stress about the small things.”
What do you do on a rest day?
“I go out for breakfast, take my two dogs to the park and catch up with family – that is something I always look forward to. There’s always lots of resting, too.”
When you are stressed, what do you do to relax?
“I like going out for a nice meal, or taking my mind off things by watching TV. I try not to get too stressed; I just think about what I can control in the situation and do my best to prepare.”
What’s your go-to workout outfit?
“Most of my workout happens in the studio or on stage, this is when I find I am at my fittest, particularly if the role I’m performing is quite cardio intense! But sometimes I go for a run, or do some Pilates or yoga, so I usually would wear some comfy tights (Tree Trunks Tights are amazing) and a hoodie or tank top. Something comfortable but also makes you excited to exercise!”
Is there a skincare tip you’ve picked up on from all the years of stage make-up and dancing?
“Applying, sweating in and removing stage makeup up so many times a week can cause havoc, but I have found products that are great for my sensitive skin. I love Grown Alchemist skincare, it’s great for my skin, and I try not to wear too much makeup during the day to let my skin breathe and recover.”
What’s your favourite workout – off duty?
“If I’m after a good sweaty workout, I like running. Swimming is great to get my back moving if it’s feeling a bit stiff, and yoga is good for arm and core strength.”
Is there something about your fitness routine that would surprise people?
“As ballet dancers, we need to be strong as well as flexible. People would be surprised to learn that we do weight training, for example on a leg press (lifting our whole body weight on a single leg!) or lifting weights on our hamstrings. We do this kind of training so we don’t get injured, and to make sure that all of our muscles are firing and are strong. It also helps us jump higher, as well as keeping us healthy and fit.”
What’s the best fitness tip you’ve learnt in your training?
“If you keep changing up your workout, you won’t ever get bored and you’ll achieve more.”
What’s your health philosophy?
“Listen to your body, it usually can tell what you need.”
November 14, 201612:30pm