Health & Body

Ask the Experts: How Can I Better Encourage Healthy Eating at My Studio?


Q: I'm tired of the fast food that's consumed at my studio. I get that families are on the run, but what can I say to encourage healthy eating without harassing anyone?

A: At our studio we try to talk about healthy eating with our students. Unfortunately, I don't feel like everyone is really listening. For two years in a row I've spoken to one competitive dance mom in particular about her son and daughter's eating habits. A Big Mac combo is not what anyone (let alone a 10-year-old) should be eating for dinner before dancing for four hours. I explained that her children would run out of energy and lose their ability to focus less than two hours into an evening of rehearsals because of what she fed them. She would improve their food choices for a week or so, but then fall back to the old habits. Neither of her children have been able to dance up to the level they're capable of because their bodies do not have the right fuel.

This year, I have hired a nutritionist to come in and speak to all of my competitive dancers and their parents. Teaching the dancers how to fuel their bodies has had a major impact on them. Knowing what foods will keep their minds and bodies working has cut down on fatigue and injuries, and their stamina is on the rise. Education about better eating is definitely paying off for us, and I recommend you try it as well.

Teachers Trending
Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

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Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

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Teachers Trending
Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

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