This ballet dancer shares tips on staying in shape

Published July 21, 2020, 10:16 AM

by Paola Navarette

Dancing without a stage

Ballet Manila principal dancer Jasmine Pia Dames. Photo by Sean Pelegrin

We have found that working from home, even when home is a studio apartment, is mostly doable. Working out from home, though? That’s another matter, especially for ballet dancers. 

“In this new life we’re all leading, we don’t have access to our usual studios, with their special floors, mirrors, and ballet barres,” says Ballet Manila principal dancer Jasmine Pia Dames. “And maybe the most challenging thing is that what we work toward day in and day out—live performance—is on an indefinite hold.”

With rehearsals and shows postponed indefinitely, Jasmine says cross-training tailored to ballet is crucial for dancers to try to maintain their strength and stamina. “Bodies run on different engines and, as far as exercise goes, dancers need premium fuel,” she says. In an interview with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, Jasmine shares how she established a new fitness routine and achieved her #quarantoned look. 

On pointe

Social isolation or not, ballet dancers need daily class, with its focus on posture and form. For Jasmine, the company class is a way to check in with the body and get it prepared for the day. 

“It’s a vital morning ritual and group practice,” she says. “Ballet dancers have a lot of self-discipline but we always need a teacher to motivate us and give us little steers.”

The 25-year-old dancer finishes off her virtual class with stretches, press-ups, and abdominal exercises. In the afternoon, she demonstrates two classes for a school and then spends an hour or two exercising. “Dancing with others is a way to grow,” Jasmine says. “It’s also my way to connect and give back in this time when we all have lost our ability to take a class together.”

Coming full circle

Since the middle of March she and her sister Jessica have been self-isolating in their apartment, and even though it’s a small space, they’re making the most of it. 

“For me, life has come surprisingly full circle: Our apartment has turned into a place where we try to stay fit and pursue our health goals,” Jasmine says. 

SHE STILL RISES While dancers aren’t performing as usual, discipline, Jasmine says, remains important

Normal life for her means sweating for up to eight hours a day, six days a week. But with gyms and practice spaces closed, she and Jessica had to get more creative to adapt their personal space to their needs. 

ACTIVE INDOORS Jasmine has turned everyday household items into workout equipment, like water bottles in place of weights.

“We use towels as a substitute for sliders, and the table for pull-ups and rowing movements,” Jasmine says. “For weights, we use bottles filled with water. We never thought it was possible, but there is always a way when you want it and if you are committed to it.” 

Stepping up

Even before the lockdown was put in place, Jasmine has been working with Ballet Sport Science Philippines coach Robert Osorio to create intensive exercises that will help strengthen the body.

“Since I am prone to injuries, it has always been my goal to prioritize my body. And now, there are no excuses for me,” Jasmine says. “This time, I am going to push myself harder than ever before.”

The program focuses on core strength-training and cardio exercises such as weighted pistol squats, explosive push-ups, and leg lifts. And in just a short period of time, Jasmine has achieved sculpted abs and toned arms. (No waist trainers or supplements included.) 

QUARANTINE MADE ME DO IT Jasmine shows off visibly toned physique in a progress photo

“After a few months, I noticed how my jumps got higher and how my legs became more stable and powerful,” she says. “I changed my eating habits, too, and focused more on eating home-cooked food. It was all hard work and consistency, and I felt more driven seeing the successful results.” 

Most important in staying healthy, Jasmine says, is staying disciplined. “There is no shortcut. It takes time to create a better, stronger version of yourself,” she says. “It’s hard to stay motivated these days and that’s okay. Keep your eyes on your goals and rest when you have to. It took me years of sacrifice to be able to get to where I am right now so just be patient, and I promise you, all your hard work will be worth it.”