- Kathryn Boren is a ballerina with American Ballet Theatre in the midst of her fourth consecutive season at the Met.
- Boren supplements her ballet training and rehearsals with intense, ballet-centric workouts. She’s gained more control of her body, making her a more free dancer.
- She works with trainers from celebrity-favorite gym DOGPOUND to create exercises that push her body to its limit.
- Boren is also a certified personal trainer as of summer 2018.
Kathryn Boren: My name is Kathryn Boren. I’m a dancer at American Ballet Theatre. I started when I was about three years old, which is really young but probably by around age seven, I decided, “Yeah, I’m doing this seriously.”
You know, when you’re young and you’re just dancing all the time, everything’s – it’s very easy for your body to adapt. As I started aging and becoming more aware of my body and the aches and pains and the strengths and weaknesses, I started to experiment with how I could make it easier in the studio, injury prevention, longevity, all that.
And so I started really getting into cross-training and fitness. I found out about Dogpound through a friend. I’ve known Nigel Barker, the photographer, for many years and he was one of the OG Dogpounders and he introduced me to Kirk Myers, the creator of Dogpound. And we just, we hit it off.
He offered to train me. He trained me once and he was like, “Wow, I could learn so much from working with a ballerina, like what kind of things you need, how I can help you, how you can help me.” And then from then on, we just really got into it. So it’s been about three years.
The guys would have such great ideas and exercises that nobody else could do, but they’re like, “Maybe she can do it.” And I would take it and I’d be like, “Yeah, this is great, but let’s change it like this or like that,” so it could more beneficial for ballet or just incorporating ballet moves. So then once that got started, fire just went off and I was like, “Let’s see how crazy, how intense we can get.” Of course staying safe and all that.
I find that a lot of body-weight-bearing exercises are really beneficial for ballerinas. I do a lot of core exercises. That’s one of the most important things I feel like in ballet technique. We have to be able to control everything from our center and have that stability. I’ve always had a very hard time building muscle in my legs so I’ve tried to really focus on that, keeping them strong, stable, a lot of ankle stability, which I feel was really important for me.
When I was younger, I had very, very mobile, flexible ankles and it’s a dangerous thing when you’re doing a lot of pointe work. The training’s just made me so much stronger and so much more in control of my body and I know my body so much better now so I know what it’s capable of and how I can push it and how far it can go and I know I can still be in complete control of it.
We work really hard in the studio and we get a lot out of our classes and rehearsals, but there’s a lot that we don’t target or that we could be adding to our technique and our foundation. So, I think it’s so important to add just a little bit extra in there. I mean, it gives you a great edge and I think it’s really important. I’ve definitely built a lot more muscle, which has always been something very hard for me.
I’ve always had a very lean physique and it was hard to build muscle no matter what exercises I did or how much I ate. So, I feel like that’s just made me a much more grounded, free dancer. I don’t usually go too heavy on the upper body or when I do, I use very light weights just to keep the ballet physique. There is a certain way that we have to train in order to maintain the ballet physique and aesthetic. We don’t want to bulk up.
I’ve come to find people think we don’t eat. People think we’re just like the movie “Black Swan,” which we are not, I promise you. We’re fun, normal people. We just have a very serious day job. I think people just think ballerinas can be stiff or rigid, cold, and I wish we could break that stigma and I think that with social media these days, people are being able to see us behind the scenes and in the studio being goofy, being backstage, eating a lot. I see a lot of food posts, but yeah. I’m a mouse, duh. Duh!
I will rest once a week. I don’t like to stay away from class for more than three days at a time. It’s just not good for the body or for my sanity. I recover, I get a lot of massages. I think cryotherapy has been really, really beneficial. I spend hours on my roller at home on my living room floor. Ice baths, Epsom salt, all the good things.
I’m a certified personal trainer now. So, I started training some of the dancers in the company and that’s been such a cool experience. I think anything that challenges stabilization, you’re gonna get the most out of the exercise.
My friend Rhys who’s a great trainer and a great friend of mine at Dogpound, we’ve always tried to come up with the most crazy exercises or the most viral videos. And so we took the slide board out in the rain and I got on it and I was like going down into the splits and then coming back up, which is killer for your inner thighs, which is great for dancers. But yeah we shot it within five seconds, and I was totally drenched, but we got a cool video out of it. And yeah my thighs got a great workout.