Rockettes Share Their Amazing Tips for Getting Toned Legs
It takes more than holiday training to be a Rockette. While the job is surely a dream of countless girls across the country, we were so impressed to learn the intense physical agenda that each dancer must abide by to perfect each scene and kick higher than the Empire State Building. Specifically, the time leading up to the show requires six days a week, six hours a day of kicks and choreography, a workout regimen we're fairly certain would knock us out. However, the payoff is huge, since on top of being a cultural phenomenon, the Rockettes have physiques one only dreams of. Which makes sense, considering that they each do 300 kicks per show. (Fun fact about that infamous kickline: The Rockettes create the illusion that they're holding onto each other, when in reality, they're not touching so they don't lean on each other and throw themselves off-sync. Pretty cool, right?)
With the holidays approaching, it's inevitable that we'll partake in some seriously indulgent eating, however, we want to be able to burn those calories off ASAP. To do that and then some, we learned some killer tips from Katie Walker, a veteran Rockette (eight years!) who taught us about getting a dancer's body—specifically, those infamous killer kickline legs.
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Walker explains that these are "very challenging" but incredibly important for getting both the cardio and muscle-toning aspect. Start by placing your palms flat on the ground, arms straight, while bending your knees and keeping your feet together. Then, kick your legs straight out behind you, keeping your back flat; then jump back into the previous position. Finally, jump up into the air while simultaneously raising your arms straight up.
Lunging in a straight line, keeping each leg bent at a 90-degree angle while alternating arms, is a killer workout for the legs: "The arm movement throws off balance so you work harder," explains Walker.
Toe raises really fire up your calve muscles, explains Walker. Keeping knees bent while raising up on your tip toes, holding onto the barre for support, strengthens the calves and warms them up, which she says is essential for dancing in heels in the actual Christmas Spectacular show "so [your legs aren't] in shock."
"These are a burner," jokes Walker. Keeping legs at a 90-degree angle while resting your spine up against an exercise ball (like the Tone Fitness Stability Ball, $16) targets the back of the legs, which is essential for those high Rockette kicks. "You can't use your weight to go forward with the ball, so you really have to squeeze your glutes," says Walker. What's more? "The ball gives your back a massage!" she explains. Sounds like a win-win!
"The Bosu Ball makes it so much harder because you have to balance and engage the core," says Walker, which is also essential for perfecting the Rockette kick. Try grabbing your own Bosu Pro Balance Trainer, $139, and holding the squat position for as long as you're able. Walker says that precision is a key factor in Rockette training; they'll often hold a position for 60 seconds until every single dancer looks exactly the same.
Editor's note: Quotes have been edited and shortened for content.
What's your favorite way to keep your legs in shape? Sound off in the comments!
Opening Image: Carlo Allegri/Reuters