Hot dancers like Mark Morris vet Rita Donahue prove that getting in shape goes beyond the gym. Find out how she builds strong muscles through a rigorous practice schedule that also includes Zumba and Pilates.
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How does dancing keep you fit?
You get a sense of what you need to work on and what will help you continue to be healthy well into your life. Mark is really interested in proper alignment, and he’s good at stripping away people’s defense mechanisms or bad habits—some people slouch, some raise their shoulders from stress. You become conscious of those little tics that do more harm than good. For me, once I let my shoulders drop, I noticed all my neck tension faded away. I don’t get chronic pain anymore.
How do you supplement your practice?
Mark teaches a company ballet class every day, so I’ll typically do something like yoga or Gyrotonics on my days off. Through dance, I discovered Pilates. I have a wonderful private teacher who helped me elongate my spine by an extra half inch, so I’m a bit taller. We do a mix of mat- and machine-based exercises.