Our cover girl Peta Murgatroyd, a dancer and choreographer on Dancing with the Stars, does Pilates almost every day…and it shows! Not only does she have an enviably lean and toned body, but she credits Pilates with keeping her pretty much injury free as she’s cha-cha-ed and rumba-ed her way around the world
By Anne Marie O’Connor
One of the reasons cover girl Peta Murgatroyd stands out, even among all the other lean, lithe bodies on Dancing with the Stars: She has been doing Pilates since she was eight! Growing up in Perth, Australia, Murgatroyd studied ballet with former Kirov principal dancer Madame Lubov Nikonorenko. “I started ballet at four and I started doing Pilates at eight,” Murgatroyd says. “It was a part of my ballet and contemporary dance classes. My best friend and I also went twice a week to a conditioning class that was all about stretching and lengthening our muscles.” She credits Pilates with giving her strength and having enhanced her dancing.
Now she’s one of six troupe dancers on Dancing with the Stars and she still does Pilates matwork almost every day, despite her hectic schedule. When the show is filming, she dances up to eight hours a day, six days a week. “We have camera blocking on Sunday, we have the show on Monday and Tuesday and we’re back at rehearsal on Wednesday,” she says. “It’s very intense. But I try to get to rehearsal half an hour early so I can do my Pilates core-strengthening, stabilization and breathing exercises before I go on.”
As a troupe dancer, she isn’t paired with a star; instead, she performs in group dances with the other pros. “Being a troupe dancer, you are given certain songs from an artist who will be guest-starring that week,” she says. Murgatroyd, who’s also a choreographer, often is asked to arrange the dances.
Being a troupe dancer “is a definite stepping stone into becoming a featured dancer [the dancers who are partnered with the stars],” she explains. “They can see how you interact with the audience, how your fan base is growing.”
Besides doing a mat routine on her own everyday, “I probably do classes two times a week at my gym, The Sports Club/LA in Beverly Hills,” she says.
Good core strength is key in ballroom dancing, Murgatroyd says. “Having a partner, you don’t want to rely on them so much. When doing lifts, you have to be able to lift your own weight and not be deadweight for the guy. You have to have your own core and your own strength. I rely on Pilates for breathing a lot as well.”
While dancers and celebrities on the show frequently suffer injuries, Murgatroyd has managed to stay healthy, thanks to Pilates. “I’ve always been taught that prevention is the best cure,” she states.
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