How to Workout Like a Dancer and Eat to Fuel a Ballerina’s Body

When you combine nature trails with art, business, restaurants and wellness, you are talking about Serenbe. This health-minded community is intertwined with nature at the edge of Atlanta and is proud to have opened a new dance theater called Terminus. Those who want to kick their heels up and put their ballet slippers on may want to glimpse inside the lives of two of their acclaimed local dancers.  

Alex Gonzaga

It all started with a dance class. Alex joined her older sister one fine day and never looked back. She believes that South Fulton Lifestyle readers can become ballerinas too.  

“I believe anyone has the potential to be anything they desire to be if they work hard and consistently,” said Gonzaga. She believes we are all beautiful individuals and that there is no such thing as a perfect ballet body, although it does help to be in good physical shape.  

“Eat nutritious foods, exercise consistently and take care of your body, because you love yourself and not because you hate your body,” said Gonzaga.  

Most dancers take up other physical activities as well. In Gonzaga’s case, in addition to dancing at least five days a week, she goes to the gym four days weekly for weight training, a push-pull split routine, a chest/triceps day and a back/biceps day.  

“I focus on the muscles that are not usually used by the practice of ballet like the under utilized muscles, such as the rotator cuff,” said Gonzaga. She also plans and cooks her own meals, focusing on a mix of 150 grams of protein daily, healthy fats and carbs with fruits and vegetables.  

On a typical day, Gonzaga wakes up at 7 a.m., meditates, makes breakfast, drives to work, attends ballet class and rehearsal, eats, studies, goes to the gym and then to bed.  

“Dance is a demanding exercise, and to become proficient it takes years of consistent dedication,” said Gonzaga. She encourages anyone who wants to work on strength, flexibility, balance, stamina and/or proprioception to give ballet and dance a try.

Christine Welker

Like Alex, Christine followed in someone’s footsteps. She saw a friend perform in “The Nutcracker”and fell in love. It was not an easy road to travel to make a claim to fame.

“Being a successful dancer takes dedication, commitment, passion, a consistent work ethic and a given level of natural talent and coordination,” said Welker. Welker credits her success with having the right instruction and some luck.  

She acknowledges that all dancers have different body types but says there are some commonalities.  

“There is the aesthetic of long limbs with a short torso, hyper mobile feet and legs and a graceful neck that is thought of when you think of a ballet dancer, but there are many exceptions to this thought now,” said Welker. Being strong and healthy for your build is essential as is the willingness to put forth the time.  

“The regimen is rigorous, so part of the training is developing the muscularity, strength and stamina needed for dance,” said Welker.

The ballet dancer’s New Year’s resolutions are to stay healthy, fit and avoid injury. 

“Cross training with Pilates, yoga, swimming and getting regular massages or physical therapy is essential,” said Welker. Welker eats a healthy but well-rounded diet. She avoids dairy, limits her sugary carb intake, eats organic and stays away from processed food.  

“The fuel I put into my body directly affects how I feel and perform,” said Welker. As far as performance, Welker focuses on the muscles in her legs, back and abdomen.  

“A strong core with lean, powerful legs is important for any dancer,” said Welker.  

Welker cannot be found at the gym, as she prefers to work out at a Pilates studio. She is proud to have made a return to the stage after retiring from her professional career of 23 years for a performance of “Fall.en.”  

Her typical day consists of lots of teaching for ballet and Pilates, and even with the rigorous training, there is nowhere she would rather be. She hopes readers will strive to support local arts organizations and attend shows.  

“It is necessary for quality of life and community, because dance is something that everyone can and should enjoy both in watching and in their own bodies,” said Welker. If you are looking for a a new way to get healthy and fit in the New Year, dance may be your answer. 

“Movement is beautiful,” said Welker.