Why I Move… With Indiana Woodward

Why I Move… With Indiana Woodward

Introducing ‘Why I Move,’ a fresh series dedicated to chatting with individuals within the health and wellness space. We’ll delve into their motivations for exercise, explore the origins of their passion for fitness, discuss how they integrate exercise into their lifestyles, and, above all, discover the driving force behind their movement!

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Indiana Woodward, Principal Ballerina of the New York City Ballet, to delve into the significance of movement in her life. From her earliest days, dance has been a constant passion, shaping her journey from childhood to the pinnacle of her career. We delved into her intimate connection with dance, her strategies for prioritizing recovery amidst the demands of her physically demanding profession, the rituals she embraces on performance days, and even her preferred workout spots in NYC, should she ever decide to take a break from her beloved pointe shoes.

Why do you move?

Movement has always been an intrinsic part of who I am, it’s like breathing to me. My mom was a dancer, so I started dancing almost as soon as I could walk! Of course that then became a passion, my purpose and ultimately years later my career as a ballerina. However aside from ballet, and my career, very basic movement and exercise is a daily non-negotiable for me. It gives oxygen to my body, and allows me to be present with myself and my emotions, giving me the confidence to stand strong as myself. It’s easy in this overwhelming world we live in to lose sight of the internal world of our bodies, focussing more on the external. I truly believe when you connect to the inside the outside sorts itself out. That’s why I move: to look after every aspect of my health, both mental and physical. Our motto at Grace & Form is “Be Kind to Yourself” – movement is my act of kindness. 

What are some of your earliest recollections of physical activity as a child?

I remember always being very active when I was little, from baby ballet classes to tennis, karate, and ice skating. I’ve always had diverse interests when it comes to sport and movement, and still to this day enjoy getting on the mountains and feeling the beautiful freedom that comes moving with nature. 

When did you realise that pursuing a career as a ballet dancer was something you wanted to do? 

I quit ballet at around 9 years old and committed to karate as my primary sport. My mom took me to a performance of Romeo and Juliet a little less than a year later, and I was completely spellbound. Without a second thought, I went back to ballet, and truly never looked back!  

Can you describe a typical day-in-the-life when you’re performing?

A typical day when performance starts at around 8 am wake up, I have my morning coffee and feed my pup Luna. I’ll normally be on the phone to my business partner Saskia as she runs through my to-do list for the business (I’m a multi-tasker, and try to work on this on every break throughout the day!). Then I jump into a cold shower, soft boil some eggs and prepare my lunch. I like to walk down to work through Central Park, seeing the sunlight and getting in some exercise for Luna. I get to work around 9:45 am for a 10:30 am class. I’ll take a moment to sew a pair of pointe shoes and warm my body up for class. 

I get to rehearse lots of different roles throughout the day and squeeze in snacks and lunch on my breaks. My schedule is always different so I make sure to plan ahead with good snacks to keep me going. We break two hours before the show, giving me time to put my makeup on and go and do gyrotonics and a short barre to warm up for the show. Then it’s time to perform! After the show, I take the train home and make a delicious veggie and grain meal with whatever protein I have. Followed by my favourite treat: almond butter and honey. I’ll make a cup of herbal tea, take an Epsom salt bath and then head to bed.  

As a ballerina, exercise is a huge part of your day-to-day life, but do you enjoy other forms of movement outside the studio?

I love other forms of movement and think that training in multiple different disciplines only strengthens my skills as a ballerina. Yoga is one of my favourite forms of movement, as well as pilates, swimming and walking. 

With such a physically demanding job, what does rest and recovery look like for you?

I like to really take it easy on my day off. I wake up late, see my therapist which is always helpful for an even more peaceful day. I also see my physical therapist to heal my body and my gyro tonics teacher to reset my body gently. Then once my appointments are done I love lounging at home and making a yummy meal. I also make sure to do very simple stretches. Taking a bath is always a highlight of my rest days as well as taking a leisurely walk with Luna in the park and getting to bed early. 

How does movement impact your mental health?

It is so important for my mental health. As I mentioned, movement truly is like oxygen for me, so when I don’t move I become quite sad and lethargic. Even just some simple movement helps my mood and my energy, it doesn’t have to be high intensity or break a sweat, it doesn’t even have to be long. But taking a moment t to move is like a step back to myself. 

If a friend was planning a trip to NYC, where would you send them for a great workout class?

I would send them to a Gaga class at the Gibney Studios downtown, Sky Ting for an amazing yoga class with Krissy and her instructors and finally, a Moves dance class by Lauren. 

How does nutrition enhance your performance? Are there any go-to recipes and foods you love to eat to fuel you?

Nutrition is so important. My all-time favourite breakfast is soft-boiled eggs, with sweet potato, avocado and spinach. I enjoy lots of different things for lunch, but primarily vegetarian as it’s easier for me to digest in the middle of my dancing day. I always have carrots and hummus handy as well as nuts. My favourite snack is always popcorn. I make it home with lots of delicious toppings. 

My post-performance meal is a big pan of sautéed veggies often cabbage, broccoli, spinach, kale, mushrooms and then a big scoop of quinoa, rice or sweet potato. I top it off with an egg or some fish. I always have something sweet at night, whether it’s a little dark chocolate, honey on some rice cakes or my favourite is a vegan gluten-free chocolate chip cookie. 

You and fellow dancer, Saskia Gregson-Williams have just launched a new workout platform, Grace + Form… tell us all about it!

Saskia and I have been best friends for 20 years, and always shared the same vision for what movement can inspire within each and every one of us. This led to us launching our online studio and app, Grace & Form. Grace & Form is home to ballet classes and mindful movement practices for everyone. We have incredible teachers, sharing beginner ballet classes, sculpt classes, stretch flows, yoga sequences, mat pilates and more. Classes to strengthen bodies and mind. We envisioned Grace & Form as a sanctuary where the artistry of ballet intertwines with the power of fitness, shaping not just bodies but inspiring a profound connection between movement and self-discovery for everyone. It’s available for a 7 day free trial, so you can dig in and give these classes a go and see what you think! Whilst my schedule as a Principal Ballerina is busy to say the least, it brings me so much joy to spend every ounce of time I have working on an app that is truly about being kind to yourself, making movement a priority and bringing your mind closer to your body with every step. 

The post Why I Move… With Indiana Woodward appeared first on Hip & Healthy.

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.