You may recognize Kristy Boyle from a Pilates or barre fitness open division class at PBT Studios. What you may not know is that she is PBT School’s dance and fitness programs manager. She puts in the work during class and behind the scenes every day managing dance and fitness programs for the hundreds of Community Division members who walk through PBT’s doors weekly. Get to know Kristy here, and check out the class schedule on MindBody.com to meet her in person!
Family: I have one sister and an extremely large extended family. I am one of 21 cousins on my dad’s side alone!
Hobbies: Swimming, paddle boarding and hiking in the summer, skiing in the winter. I am not much of a cook, but I do love to try new local restaurants. In my down time I like to read and catch up on sleep.
Favorite food: Shrimp tacos
Favorite musician/song: Anything Justin Timberlake
Favorite form of exercise to teach: It’s a tie between Barre Fitness and TRX
Favorite form of exercise to do: Strength training
Favorite Pilates stretch/position: I love the side leg series!
How long have you been instructing dance and fitness classes?
I started teaching in college at Slippery Rock University.
Describe your career “epiphany” – the moment you knew this was what you wanted to do professionally.
I always knew that I wanted to help people and to teach in some capacity. Dance has been a constant in my life since I was 3 years old, so it only seemed natural to combine my love of dance with teaching and helping people to meet their health and wellness goals.
What are some of your goals as Manager of Dance & Fitness Programs?
My goal when I took on the position was to expand on the current class schedule, offer a wider variety of classes that complemented our already popular ballet classes, and to give Pittsburgh the opportunity to train like a dancer. The Community Division continues to multiply in attendance every year, and I want to continue to expand our teaching staff and to bring in a wider range of clientele.
What’s the most fulfilling thing about being a fitness and dancer instructor?
I had a dance professor in college who said, “If you can walk, you can dance.” That quote has stuck with me ever since and is perfectly applicable for my role with PBT in the way that we open our doors to everyone to dance and move! I also feel most fulfilled in experiencing the positive results of my students and clients. Whether it be an adult client who is reaching their fitness goals and feels happier and stronger or my Pre-professional students who are working to improve their technique and keep their bodies injury free through cross-training, I get to see the positive outcomes of so many different people here.
What advice would you give someone who wants to be a fitness and dance instructor?
Educate yourself. Take the time to receive the correct training and certifications. Always continue to grow as an instructor by attempting to read everything that you can about the ever changing industry.
What are the advantages of group classes? How about private personal training sessions?
Group classes give you a welcoming community atmosphere to keep you motivated to exercise while you are being led by a top notch instructor. If you have a personal training session scheduled, you know that your trainer is going to hold you accountable for showing up and making the most of your workout time. The exercises will be catered around your goals and will give you exactly what you need to improve.
What makes PBT a great place to sweat?
The Community Division gives you so many options! And you do not have to be a dancer! PBT has high quality, dedicated staff who will provide quality instruction. Bonus: you get to take class in the same beautiful studios that our professional company rehearses in!
Our dancers are back to the studio – and to peak performance shape – after summer break. Here, five company members share the healthy habits that keep them en pointe through eight-hour dance days.
Julia Erickson, principal dancer
“Dancers have to stretch as a practice, obviously, but it’s also important to work out the kinks that remain even once you feel “stretched out.” I would call it opening up areas of connective tissue tension. For example, I use these things called Yamuna balls, which are little half domes that you stand on. You put them on various points on your foot and stand on them for a total of, maybe, five minutes. It basically helps release things throughout your entire body. It becomes a part of your practice. It’s really easy and it becomes very empowering. I think a lot of chronic health issues show up as a result of neglect. The more you can open stuff up and release little things that are habitually bound down – you’re caring for yourself. Just like anything else – with diet, with saving money – it’s incremental change. It becomes addictive because you realize how good it is for you and how much better you feel once you do it.”
Alexandra Kochis, principal dancer
“I think that one of my most important healthy daily regimes is the simple act of getting out, getting moving and getting sweating at least once everyday. Taking morning ballet class is the starting point of most of my days and the hour and a half of introspective time reserved solely for me to focus on my own body and my connectedness to it is a luxury for which I am incredibly grateful. On the days when I don’t get out and do something that gets my blood pumping, I feel just a little less present. And, though sometimes it takes a bit of cajoling to get up the motivation to take that hike or get to the pool, I always feel glad that I did and my body and outlook on life are the better for it.”
Luca Sbrizzi, principal dancer
“I’m one of those dancers that is constantly thinking about how to recover quicker, feel less sore, release tight muscles – in the studio but especially at home. I have dozens of recovery tools from balls, rollers, massagers, etc. But there is one that I always come back to. It’s called a yantra mat. It’s an acupressure mat. It was a Christmas gift from a former PBT dancer. It became a staple during my long and stressful back injury and recovery. And I still use it consistently. Not only does it help me with back pain, but it reduces stress, improves circulation and lowers blood pressure. It’s truly a wonder. I noticed that if I lay on it for just 10 minutes it will actually give me a boost of energy, but if I lay on it for 30-40 minutes it will relax me like nothing else will. It’s slightly painful to use at first, but once you pass that stage you will notice amazing results.”
Joanna Schmidt, corps de ballet dancer
“Maintaining good posture is easy to forget about but, as a dancer, it’s a necessity. I remember as a student, my ballet teachers would walk by me and pull my shoulders back even when I wasn’t in class. I try to think about the way I carry myself even when I’m not dancing. Having good posture takes pressure off of your bones and ligaments, engages and tones your abdominals, and it’s even been proven to put you in a better mood! Of course I slouch sometimes, but then I think of how great Audrey Hepburn always looked and I’m motivated again.”
Cooper Verona, corps de ballet dancer
“There are so many workout and diet theories out there; it’s confusing! And we all just want to be told the absolute perfect thing we can do. That’s not gonna happen. So, I think the one thing people can learn from dancers is to listen to their own bodies more. Knowledge of how your body works helps a ton, but common sense usually prevails. Also, drink lots of water. Seriously, it’s the cure to everything. And no one drinks enough.”
Interested in more tips for training like a dancer? Sign up for a PBT School Community Division ballet, conditioning or dance fitness class today!
Easily qualifying as the polar opposite of a desk job, the typical work day of a dancer entails a full day on their feet – or toes – either stretching, warming up or dancing during rehearsal. Leading up to a mixed repertoire production like PBT’s Unspoken, the rehearsal day also brings a shuffling of choreographic styles throughout the day. Generally, PBT dancers begin the day with company class and continue with six hours of rehearsal in the weeks leading up to the performance. Here, PBT Principal Julia Erickson shares some glimpses into her daily routine and perspective on Unspoken.
Breakfast – 7:30 a.m.
Today’s breakfast consists of toast with nut butter and ricotta cheese that Julia describes as one “big concoction.”
“I can’t just eat something plain; it’s kind of in my nature to doctor something up. I like doing that because it’s healthy carbs…complete protein, and some healthy fats,” Julia said, adding that she also starts the morning with a few vitamins washed down with a mixture of water and tumeric, a natural anti-inflammatory. “As dancers we are always seeking out ways to benefit our performance and make ourselves a little bit healthier and stronger.”
Daily Ballet Class – 9:15-10:45 a.m.
Every day, PBT dancers begin their morning with a two-hour ballet technique class, where dancers warm up their bodies with barre and center work.
“We work really hard in class, but it’s also a time to warm up for your day and just do what you need to do. It’s a time sometimes to push hard but other times to ebb back a little bit, so it’s really up to the individual dancer to be able to gauge what they need to do in class. But, it’s fundamental.”
Serenade Rehearsal – 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
“Now, class is over and rehearsal’s about to begin. The first rehearsal is Serenade. It’s a Balanchine ballet, it’s neo-classical, and we wear these long tulle skirts,” Julia said.
“There’s a lot of hurry up and go in your average rehearsal day, so we have to do a lot of eating on the run,” Julia said. “The foods that I choose to eat throughout the day, I choose mainly because they’re high-energy foods, but also they’re not going to weigh me down too much…My blood is really needed to go to my brain and my muscles throughout the rehearsal day, so I think it’s important that the food that I eat supports that. So I’ll eat yogurt, fruit, a lot of nuts, my own nutrition bar that I developed for this express purpose, crackers…I experiment a lot, but it’s always usually in the mini meal form, that way I can eat something and be digesting it while I’m dancing and it’s not a problem.”
Jardin Aux Lilas Rehearsal – 12:30-2 p.m.
“It’s more of an Edwardian kind of staid, undercurrent of emotion,” Julia said. “There is a plot…it’s basically about unrequited love. I play the other woman, or I think my official title is An Episode from His Past. him being the gentleman. You’ll see….if you come to the show!”
“Throughout the day I’ll drink a lot of water…sometimes I’ll add some Emergen-C or some sort of electrolyte tab or coconut water to my water just to replenish all of the potassium and electrolytes that are leaving my body because I’m sweating so much,” she said. “It also, I think, encourages me to drink more water, which is vital for muscle recovery and all of that.”
Lunch + Crosstraining – 2-3 p.m.
“For our break, I generally just put my feet up. I’ll eat a small meal, and start warming up for the next rehearsal usually about 20 minutes before it starts. If I do want to go out, if I have an easier day, I’ll go out and get a tea or a coffee. But, it’s usually just a moment to recoup,” she said. “I also do Pilates and Gyrotonic a few times a week as a supplemental cross training for ballet, because they’re both really helpful modalities. Today, I actually did Pilates, which I wouldn’t be able to do that every day, but it’s a nice break in that it re-centers you and helps you structurally, helps you get centered and strong…. Even though it’s a sacrifice to use my lunch hour to do it, it’s absolutely worthwhile.”
Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes Rehearsal
“It’s an incredible piece of music that we’re dancing to…it’s very playful, but very complicated musically. It’s a very intelligent ballet; I mean, Mark Morris is an incredibly intelligent choreographer. It’s a smart person’s ballet. It’s challenging to the dancer and the viewer, and there are a lot of interesting patterns going on, patterns within the music and themes that he creates for his dance. It’s very fun and very playful,” Julia said. “There’s a lot of awareness going on between me and the people that I’m dancing with onstage. And I like that, because ultimately dance is about communicating with people you’re dancing with and with the audience, so I think Mark Morris really gets that.”
Pointe Shoe Maintenance
Much of a female dancer’s day focuses on caring for and adjusting their pointe shoes for the best support for their feet. Dancers also switch and sew ribbons three to four times a week from their old to new pointe shoes as they wear out.
“Throughout the day we have to change our pointe shoes, because they get sweaty and they get malleable, and you need support, so you need to change them….So I have a big bag of pointe shoes. I’m constantly changing the padding in them too to keep your feet as healthy as possible,“ she said. “I use these handy wipes that people use in their kitchen as a toe padding. And I also use little toe spacers just to keep my toes aligned in the box of the pointe shoe.”
Rehearsing 3 Styles in One Day
“I love dancing a mixed rep. I mean it’s challenging for a dancer, because you can’t just be into a certain type of port de bras or a certain stylistic approach and then keep doing that the entire evening. You have to take it one ballet at a time. I think it’s a welcome challenge for dancers…it’s a great combination of choreographers’ works, so it’s fulfilling as a dancer to be able to do so many different styles in one evening,” Julia said. You have to recalculate how you’re going to execute a port de bras. When we’re doing the Mark Morris ballet, our hand is straighter; we’re leading from the middle finger more. When we’re doing a Balanchine ballet, there’s more play in the hand and more curvature in the finger. It’s just the different choreographers’ styles. I think that once a piece of choreography is in your body, there’s a cuing that happens with the music, so we know.”
End of the Day – 6 p.m.
After stretching, Julia usually heads home to a shower, dinner and more stretching before unwinding for the night.
“I’m stretching all the time. It’s kind of something that we love to do…I love to listen to music and cook. That is a great release for me. It doesn’t have anything to do with dancing, although it is kind of like kitchen choreography, I think…It’s a nice way to take a breath and then you have something to show for it that’s hopefully delicious…I just kind of experiment; there’s never a recipe really, or if there is, I usually stray from it,” Julia said, adding that she cooks with lots of kale and sweet potatoes.
A Snapshot of Julia’s Day
As the preferred cross-training method for many PBT Company Dancers, the majority of PBT’s Certified Instructors combine classical Pilates training with years of professional experience in the dance world. They understand first-hand the powerful role of Pilates in developing core strength as well as injury prevention and rehabilitation. As a result, PBT Pilates clients enjoy the same high-quality, distinctive instruction preferred received by PBT Company Dancers. The Pilates Method, or “Contrology” as it was called by founder Joseph Pilates, is a system of healthy body conditioning that creates a sleek, toned body while promoting strength, flexibility and agility. Pilates was founded on the integrative effects of these core principles: increasing body awareness, proper breathing and spinal alignment. The Pilates Method is not a quick fix; it is an experiential workout centered on the balance of body, mind and spirit.
PBT Pilates Advantage
By applying a customized technique to a standard method, the PBT Pilates Program offers a variety of unique benefits: • PBT Pilates Instructors guide each individual through carefully crafted, personalized exercises.
• PBT Pilates Instructors strive to educate and enlighten each client in order to achieve their individual goals. It is not a one-size-fits-all formula.
• PBT Pilates clients enjoy the same high-quality, individualized instruction preferred by many PBT Company Dancers
• PBT Pilates Instructors strive to create a healthy, sustainable fitness plan that will enhance all aspects of each client’s life.
• PBT Pilates clients use words like “Mindful”, “Artistry”, “Excellence”, “Personalized”, “Committed, “Dedicated,” “Inspired,” “Rhythm,” “Passion,” and “Purpose” to describe their experiences with the PBT Pilates Program.
PBT Pilates Instructors
All PBT Pilates instructors have successfully completed a comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training certification program with a classical base. But beyond that, PBT Pilates Instructors are selected because of their dedication and desire to share their passion for classical Pilates with their clients. The majority of PBT Pilates Instructors have distinctive experience as dance professionals, and many hold advanced degrees in Dance or Dance Education. Each Instructor infuses their own unique artistic expression into their workouts.
One client, “Lynn” puts it succinctly: “Pilates [at PBT] didn’t just change my body. It changed my life!”
To schedule a Pilates appointment, call Ann Corrado, Pilates Program Coordinator at 412-454-9136, email ACorrado@pittsburghballet.org, click www.pbt.org/pittsburgh-ballet-theatre-school/pilates, or just stop by: 2900 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15201.