General Exercises

Disclaimer: These exercises are provided for information purposes only. Please consult with your physician before undertaking any program of exercise. 

Here are some exercises to warm up from head to toe before dancing.

Neck and head

First check posture and make sure blocks body is properly lined up. 
  • Head forward and back.
  • Head to left, hold (don't break neck, neck muscle is stretched, but don't be stiff).  Back to center. Head to right, hold. Back to center. 
  • Roll head and neck in circle. Reverse direction.

Arms and Shoulders

  • Roll one shoulder front, then back. Switch to the other shoulder.
  • Roll both shoulders in circle, front circle and then back circle.


  • Knees/leg straight. Bend one part of body at each count.
    • Count 1-8: bending forward head, neck, shoulder, upper spine to lower spine.
    • Count 1-8: coming back up in reverse. Ending position, body has slight curve, knees on front of foot, balanced by head more back.

Rib Cage Isolation

Start: stand with legs a little more than shoulder width apart. Keep hips still and only move rib cage. (To help to make sure hips don't move, the exercise can also be done when sitting on the edge of the chair.) 
  • rib cage: Front, Back. Head and shoulders stay upright. Contract and expand rib cage. 
  • rib cage side stretch: Left, Right (with arms extends to both sides, or at hips), move hips as little as possible, shoulders and head flat. Need to compress one side while extending the other side. 
  • rib case diagonal stretch: rib cage goes diagonally forward and back, keep shoulder flat
  • rib cage circle: L, F, R, B - separate distinct positions first, then smooth circular movement. Then, reverse direction: L, B R, F.
  • rib cage diagonal circle: turn body diagonally to L and do the rib cage circle diagonally  
  • Upper body horizontal figure 8: (good for Latin)
    • Move rib cage to diagonally forward left, then to left side, then back. Then, immediately to the second half on right side next.
    • Move rib cage to diagonally forward right, then to right side, then back. Repeat
  • Upper body vertical figure 8: (good for Smooth), keep arms in front
    • Rib cage does figure 8 on vertical plane, practice both side ways, and in diagonal direction.

Upper Body Pendulum, Metronome, Rotation

These exercises develop the flexibility required for rotary isolation of the rib cage relative to the hips, required for CBM and CBMP in Standard, and for hip rotation in Latin.

Pendulum & Metronome:
This exercise can be done either sitting, or standing with feet slightly apart (for bigger movement and counter balancing with hips).
  • Pendulum - rib cage does "happy face" pendulum movement (one side rib cage expanded, down in middle, then to the other side).
    • Do pendulum exercise both side ways and in diagonal directions
    • Do same exercise side ways, keep arms at hips, adding head rotation - rotating to the side that is compressing. Do not break head/neck, just rotate around spine,
    • Do same exercise side ways with feet apart, weight changing from one foot to the other (full weight), together with head rotation, hip angle is changed when weight shifted
  • Metronome - rib cage does "up and over" metronome movement from one side to the other. 
    • On the lower side, make sure arm does not bend down lower than parallel to floor.
    • Do this both side ways and in diagonal direction

Stand with legs apart, blocks of weight lined up, tuck in stomach muscle (pull center back to spine), arms parallel to shoulder, bend elbow in front of body (or keep it straight out to the side).
  • First, keep hip/waist area still, just rotate plane of shoulders around spine, keep head still looking forward. (This one can be done while sitting on chair. Engage core, that helps to keep hips still.)
    • If you start out with your face, hips, and shoulders facing 12 o'clock, in the stretched position to the left, your hips and feet will still be facing 12 o'clock but the plane of your shoulders and arms will be facing somewhere between 9 and 12 o'clock, depending on your flexibility.
    • Rotate gently between 9 o'clock (to left) and 3 o'clock (to right), or whatever angles you can reach feeling a gentle stretch.
  • Then, keep upper body still, rotate hip/waist area, head looking forward.
  • Lastly, combining the two, keep head looking forward and rotate hips and upper body left and right...

Hip isolation and Hip Figure 8

Keep upper body still and only move hips:
  • Hip: front and back (like samba bounce), then left and right (lateral), twisting/rotating,  pendulum.
  • Hip circle: Left, Front, Right, Back; then, Left, Back, Right, Front; (first stop at distinct point, then try circular continuous hip circle movement)
  • Hip figure 8 action

Leg Swings and Hip Flexor Stretch

Leg swing to loosen the hips. 
  • In a standing position, swing one leg forward and back, keeping both knees bent. 
    • Swing arms in opposition to the swinging leg, as if you were running. 
    • Start with small swings, and gradually increase the range of motion and speed. Straighten the knee as you do so.
Hip Stretch:
  • Kneel or lunge with left leg in front of the right, with toes pointing forward. Left leg and hip should be bent at 90 degrees. Tighten glute, shifting weight forward. Hold the position for 10-15 seconds. Can add pulse. Switch sides. 
  • In second position, squat on ball of both feet (stretch out feet as well). Hold, add pulsing. 
Hip Swing practice in Standard - using standing leg and swing:
  • Stand on LF, press into foot, push L leg to swing hip to R side, RF step to side. (RF stepping is result of pushing on standing L leg, RF is not stepping on its own).  Repeat on the other side.
  • Practice in a circle: push on L leg, swinging from low to high, step to R; push on RF, stay high, LF to side on ball of LF. lower LF.  Repeat on the other side.

Foot Strength, Rise and Fall

This exercise helps with balance and posture, develop the strength and flexibility of the feet. 

Reminder: keep the posture elements at all times during the exercise, butt cheek tight, center collected in, neck/head tall. "Straight Knee" - knees are straight but not locked.

Feet together: 
  • Stand for 3 minutes: both feet together, on demi-pointe (~45 degrees off floor)
    • Body lined up (head/shoulders/ribs/hips lined up over ball of foot). Arms up high, finger touch above head. (Ballet position)
    • Back of head lined up over heel; center of gravity (below chest, core tummy) is lined up over ball of feet. (Opposition. Frontal curve.)
  • Body rise (No Foot Rise - NFR), foot flat: Practice body rise and fall, Weight should be on balls of the feet, not on the heels.
    • Bend and straighten knee (not knocked) with foot flat, weight on ball of foot, body pitched forward throughout exercise.
    • If the toes are grabbing floor, that's not the right feeling. 
  • Foot rise, body straight: Practice foot rise and fall with leg straight (not locked), weight on ball of foot throughout exercise.
    • Practice going on demi-point as high as possible, hold, balance, then controlled lowering of the foot to flat (still weight on ball of foot). Repeat.
  • Combined foot and body rise:
    • Rise onto demi-pointe (hold), lower to feet flat, continue to lower to bend knees (keep weight on ball of foot throughout).
    • Start straightening knee, then continue to do foot rise, get onto demi-pointe (hold). 
    • Variation: from when at the top on demi-pointe, add: lower onto bent knee with heels up, then rise back onto demi-pointe with straight knee; then continue with rest (lower to flat foot, bent knee...)
Single foot: stand on one foot, the other leg bent at knee, keep body vertically aligned.  
  • Stand on single foot. both flat foot and on ball of foot. Hold.
  • Body rise, foot flat: 
    • Bend and straighten knee. (hip knee and ankle joints all bend and straighten), keep balance. body goes straight up and down. 
  • Foot rise, body straight: 
    • Keep body vertical, go up and down on the standing foot (foot goes on demi-pointe, then flat). Keep blocks of weight all lined up over the base at all times. 
  • Combined foot and body rise: 
    • Rise onto ball of standing foot, controlled lowering to foot flat, continue to bend knee and lower
    • Straighten knee (body rise), then continue to rise onto ball of foot,  

H.I.T Exercises

High Intensity Training exercises below are structured like doing 5 dances. Do each exercise for about 1.5min and then rest for 30sec (inhale through nose, exhale through mouth), then do the next one exercise. Total will be ~10min for 5 exercises. Repeat it 2 or 3 times. 

First warm up the body: head, shoulders, rib cage, hips, legs and feet.
  1. Quick feet (in&out, forward&back, butt kicks, high knees)
  2. Alternating lunges
    1. with opposite arm parallel up and then stretch over lunging leg
    2. with both arms in front and then twist to lunging side.
    3. courtesy lunges (leg crosses behind)
  3. Arms in T position
    1. plie (squat), then bring one knee up to arm (keep arm horizontal), 5 times, then switch side
    2. plie, then bring knee across to standing leg, twisting upper body/arm the opposite way (to the side of crossing leg)
    3. forward/back lunge position, both arms up, then bring back knee forward to upper leg flat horizontal, both arms down/back on the side
  4.  In plie position:
    1. Pulse 30 times
    2. Pulse and up to demi-pointe upright position, hold 1 sec and then down to plie again. 20 times
    3. Squats in different directions: 
      • start with facing front, arms to side, in plie/squat position
      • then rotate to left, becomes lung position, R arm up and over when body is rotating, now 2 arms in front
      • stand up, retract two arms to side of body
      • winding back: back to earlier lung position, 2 arms front
      • then arm up and over to facing front position
      • now rotate to the other side.
  5. Tip toe lunges
    1. legs not too wide, parallel, foot out/in, back/recover
    2. legs very wide, R side lunge, L arm tries to touch R foot; change sides
    3. Cha cha time step: side, together, cha cha cha to the side; together/together/twist/twist/side

Core, Strength and Balance Exercises

Have a good "pulled up" posture, there should not be a back arch. Chest pulled up, shoulder down, not tense, belly button to back, tail bone down to ground (not tilted forward), head pulled up to ceiling (2 forces - head pulled up, tail bone down). Try to find core when lying down - having a flat back.

Exercise - table top position on floor 

Yoga position - :all-fours" (on both knees and hands), table top position, with flat back, lift opposite arm and leg to flat position, same plane as the back, engage core, do not open up hip, do not let back arch, heel to wall (don't point toe).
  • Hold flat position for 10 sec
  • Exhale and bring knee to elbow (back may round slightly), inhale to stretch and extend out leg and arm. Repeat 4 times.
  • Hold flat position for 10 sec. Repeat for the other arm and leg.
Exercise - plank pose

Repeat the exercise in plank position (no knees, harder).

Exercise - on one leg:

Stand on one leg, lift the other leg, 90 degrees, arms up, straighten knee out, and bend knee in, while standing on one leg. Keep holding core. 

Same pose, starting with bent knee, take the bent knee back and straighten leg, while bending upper body forward with arms on the side of body. Ending position is standing on one leg, body, arm and the other leg is flat, horizontal, engage core, do not arch back, do not open hip. Then, go back to starting position and repeat, all while standing on one foot.

Exercise - calf raises

One leg in front, foot straight not turned out.
  • Drop down to parallel squat (front foot flat, back foot on ball), raise front heel to ball of foot, rise up on both feel, on balls of feet, hold still, release both heels down. Repeat.
  • Rocking chair: Second position, no arch, engage core, lengthen spine. Rock back to heel, then rock front up to balls of feet. Hold for 2 sec. 
  • Wide leg, plie position, get onto ball of one foot, then switch to the ball of the other foot. At the end, hold still on balls of both feet.
Exercise - Pulsing
  • In parallel squat position. Pulse 12 times.
  • 2nd position in plie. Pulse 12 times.
  • Courtesy squat position. Pulse 12 times.
    • To get to courtesy position, stand in triangle, then rotate body on the heel of front foot, and ball of back foot, the ending position is the courtesy position. Inner thighs are touching. 70% weight on front leg.
Exercise - Jumping, Pushing
    • Start in parallel squat position, jump and land with opposite foot in front in parallel squat position, land on balls of feet, softly,  When jumping up, arms are up and land with arms down. Repeat 5 times.
    • Jump in the squat position. 
    • In Plie position, push RF and move weight onto straight L leg with R leg straight pointing to the side off floor, stay balanced, hold for 2 sec. Repeat on the other foot.