The Washington Ballet's Sarah Steele on Her At-Home Workouts

November 23, 2020

Ballet at home:
Since she’s not preparing for any immediate performances, Steele takes ballet barre three to four times a week. “I’m working in more of a maintenance mode,” she says, prioritizing her ankles and the intrinsic muscles in her feet. “If you don’t work those muscles, they disappear really quickly. I’ve been focusing on a baseline level of ballet muscle memory.”

What she’s always working on:
Strengthening her glute-hamstring connection (the “under-butt” area), which provides stability for actions like repetitive relevés and power for jumps. Bridges are her go-to move for conditioning those muscles. “Those ‘basic food group’–type exercises are some of the best ones,” she says.

Abs on Instagram:
Back in April, Steele, who’s also a certified Pilates instructor and personal trainer, moved her SteeleSculpt classes online. Three to four times per week, she offers Pilates-inspired, low-impact workouts on Zoom and Instagram Live. “I think that low impact is important, especially while we’re all in our living rooms. And they’re equipment-free, too, because not everybody has access to dumbbells or even TheraBands or squishy balls.”

Bonus workouts:
For Steele, planning her classes is also a form of exercise. “A lot of times I’ll make myself really sore from coming up with a class before I teach it,” she laughs.

For cardio:
“I jive with biking,” says Steele, who enjoys riding around Washington, DC’s monuments and the National Mall. “Biking outside, you can naturally get the intervals that you want,” she says. As opposed to cycling indoors at a steady pace for 30 minutes, riding outdoors gives her a mix of hills and flat terrain, alternating periods of hard work with active recovery.

Sarah Steele working out outdoors near the Washington Monument

Courtesy The Washington Ballet

Her Don’t-Quit Strategy:
“I’m not that kind of person who can drop down to a plank and do my best job in complete silence. I need musical motivation.” Her favorite workout track? Niall Horan’s “Slow Hands (Basic Tape Remix).”

Shutdown self-care tool: LURE Essentials’ EDGE Cupping Therapy Kit

“They’re so great for when you have any tightness in your lower legs—from taking barre on an un-sprung floor or even taking too many long walks.” Steele glides the handheld, silicone suction cups up and down her calves for myofascial release.