It’s time to get back to dance. The end of summer traditionally means “back to school”-but for many it also means a return to our regular dance routine too. Chances are you danced more (studio intensives, camps, summer programs away) less (studio hiatus, time at the beach), or even both during the summer months. Either way you want to take care of yourself and enter into September smart! Maybe it’s because of all those years arranging my life around the school calendar but I always feel as if the fall is the true start to the year. It’s a perfect time to build healthy habits. Here are some suggestions for making the transition as successfully as possible.

Give yourself a break

If you haven’t kept up your regular class routine, your brain and body may be a bit rusty, so go easy on yourself. Likewise if you’ve been dancing up a storm and your muscles and mind are overworked. Realize that transitions can be a little challenging, and use the first week or two back in the studio as an opportunity to come at class with a different perspective. This is a great time to work on that classic “negative” dancer mindset and start the “year” with a positive outlook.

Self care – now and always!

Pacha birch muscle soak

Pacha muscle soak

Sore muscles are a given no matter what you’ve been doing over the summer. Gentle stretching is always good, no need to go for those Chinese splits right now (unless you’ve been working towards them all season, then enjoy your accomplishment). An abrupt bump up in activity can aggravate old injuries, so keep tabs on how your body is reacting to your schedule. Salt baths are a great self care tool-Pacha is a favorite of mine that is socially conscious too! I like their Birch Muscle Soak (it’s sold online or in bulk at Whole Foods) but you can even use regular table salt in a pinch. Massage is also a great tool to ease soreness and reduce stress.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Sugar and Bruno Water Bottle at CDS

The hot, sweaty days of summer are behind us (probably) but staying hydrated is still important. Keep a water bottle with you from the start of your day, and replenish it as needed.  Water is always the best option, as energy drinks are high in sugar (ditto soda) and too much coffee can make you jittery.


Your body needs fuel to get you through class, and your brain needs nutrition so you can remember those combinations! Make sure you’re eating right- a mix of healthy food eaten in small amounts through the day will keep your energy and stamina up. Try the following recipe-these cookies are great as a snack during or after a long day. They’re easy to make, not too sweet and freeze great. The chocolate chips are optional but make them especially delicious!

Oatmeal Cookies
From Bon Appetit, adapted from recipe by Nancy Clark, from Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. Original recipe can be found here  

1.5 cups flour (preferably either half whole wheat flour and half white flour, or try using whole wheat pastry flour-this will make the cookies heavier but still delicious)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup milk
½ cup oil, preferably canola
⅓ cup turbinado (raw) sugar (white sugar is fine)
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 cups oats (l like old fashioned but quick are fine)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup raisins
½ cup coarsely chopped apricots
½ cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, combine the soda, salt, cinnamon, and flour and set aside. In a large bowl, combine milk, oil, sugar, oatmeal, eggs, and vanilla and beat well. Gradually add flour mixture to large bowl and combine thoroughly. Gently stir in raisins, apricots, and optional chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Cookies should be firm when tapped with a finger. Makes 2.5 dozen.