Healthy Tips from School at Steps’ Seniors

This month we asked four of our 2013 graduating seniors, Ally Brodsky, Julie Magruder, Anna Riley-Shepard, and Hannah Tolan, to share tips they’ve learned and how they were able to maintain a healthy lifestyle while dancing in the School at Steps’ Pre-Professional Program.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Hannah has learned not to skip meals, and knows to choose a balanced diet with enough fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grains. One of the most important steps in establishing a balanced diet is to understand serving sizes.

What counts as a serving?


  • ½ a cup of cooked rice or 1 slice of bread


  • 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables


  • 1 medium apple, banana, or orange


  • 1 cup of milk or yogurt or 2 oz. of processed cheese

Meats & Beans

  • 2-3 oz. of lean meat or ½ cup of cooked dry beans

Serving information from The Food Pyramid Guide.

Fuel-up Before Dance Class

In order dance full out in your classes and avoid being too tired or hungry, Julie and Anna always have a snack on hand. Julie chooses snacks filled with protein, and the Barre Café on the 3rd floor sells a variety of Odwalla bars (with 3-7 grams of protein), and Zone Perfect Nutrition bars (with 12 grams of protein).

Anna’s go-to healthy snack is nuts (her favorites are almonds, cashews, and pecans). She recommends bringing “a bag of them and snag a few whenever you are feeling a little low in energy.” Almonds are a nutritious source of protein and fiber! The standard serving of almonds is 1 oz., which equals approximately one handful, or 23 whole, shelled nuts. (US Food & Drug Administration) Anna also enjoys drinking coconut water. Coconut water has “fewer calories, less sodium, and more potassium than a sports drink.” (

Before and after class, visit the Barre Café on the 3rd floor for a wide variety of healthy snacks and drinks!

Get Enough Sleep

Ally never knew the benefits of sleep until she started getting enough of it. Everyone, including dancers, needs sleep (6-8 hours a night). Not only will sleep make you feel better, it is an important factor in living a healthy lifestyle. Loosing sleep during the week and cramming in extra hours of sleep on the weekends is not the way to do it. Find a balance throughout the week and maintain a similar sleep schedule in order to obtain/attain the benefits of sleep:

Improve Memory: Through a process called consolidation, your brain ‘practices’ skills you learned during the day. This means dancers can review and remember choreography better while they are sleeping.
Spur Creativity: The way our brains recharge during the night can result in more creativity the next day.
Increase Performance: Sleeping for at least eight hours a night increases stamina and sharpens your attention, both of which lead to higher performance in and out of the dance studio.
Curb hunger: Those who do not sleep enough tend to feel hungry more often because the same area of the brain controls that controls sleep, controls metabolism.

Sleep benefits from