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Foods That Too Many Young Dancers Leave Out of Their Diets, But Shouldn't

Now that this year’s dance season is underway, most young dancers are keeping really hectic schedules from day to day, and from week to week. Intensive workshops and master classes ... tense auditions … long rehearsals … grueling competitions … and not to mention classwork and other school activities and actually trying to have a personal life with family and friends.

Naturally, dancers of all ages need to have a healthy mind and body to keep up this pace and to perform at their best throughout the long season. But according to fitness and nutrition expert Lateefah Fleming, too many young dancers (and their parents, in taking care of them) leave certain primary foods out of their diet that are required for optimal performance.

“The biggest mistake that young dancers (and their parents) make regarding their nutrition is in omitting some of the essential macro nutrients – especially, believe it or not, fats,” said Fleming.

“A lot of the focus of young dancers is placed on being small, when in fact the focus should be on being strong and properly nourished for the grueling rehearsal schedules that they face,” she added. “The proper fats - found in nuts, avocados, olive oil, fatty fish like salmon and sardines, etc. - are great for helping to prevent pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints. After a long day of dancing, young people need to make sure their joints are ‘lubricated’ with the good fats.”

Speaking of a long day of dancing…

Every young dancer needs real fuel to do all of that physical activity. Fleming also said that carbohydrates provide the best energy – the right carbohydrates, that is. Making oatmeal, quinoa, sweet potatoes and other non-refined starches a part of the dancer’s everyday diet is critical for providing sustainable energy.

Add the right amounts of these nutrients to the diet and they will help dancers (young and not so young) to maintain stronger and healthier bodies throughout their dance training and throughout their careers.

Seminar: Taking Care of a Dancer's Body

Lateefah Fleming, certified AFAA Personal Trainer, certified Pilates Mat Instructor, and owner of EmpowerFit, will facilitate a seminar at Dance In New York City on Sun. October 9, 2016 at Pearl Studios [in New York City].

Dance In New York City is a full one-day intensive with up to 15 classes/seminars to choose from. Each class is specially designed to prepare the young dancer for the challenging season ahead.

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