I am an AFAA certified fitness instructor and instructor trainer....I have taught a variety of classes....I am not certain that I would call any workout directly beneficial in terms of being able to see some direct crossover effect....that being said, cardio vascular fitness, strength and flexiblity are all critical to being a fit dancer if one is going to dance at an advanced level....so any aerobic activity is important...each has its strengths and weaknesses....obviously you can get on an elliptical or treadmill, a bike or a rowing machine... you can do each of these more or less intensely to derive more or less benefit and more or less consequent effect in both fitness and need for recovery....some put more wear and tear on the body...as to classes; zumba is hot right now...it can help or hurt depending upon how mindful you are of the difference in quality of movement once you are dancing... but it does use many of the same muscles in a similar way...still, so does step...and to do some toning, intervals, pilates, etc. for strength is a good idea and to do some yoga for flexibility...if you have to pick and choose due to limited time or money, ask yourself what you most need...strength? speed? coordination? weight loss?, increased cardio vascular capacity? flexibility?...then ask a professional to design a plan for you within your time and budget constraints
as to what I personally do... in addition to my 8 lessons a week and whatever practice I am able to get in which can range from 1 hour to 6 hours a week, depending upon the week, my regular fitness schedule is as follows;
monday; one hour of step on an 8 inch bench (moderate to heavy cardio vascular), half an hour of light toning with weights, stretching
tues, an hour of cycling (intense cardio vascular)
wed; 1-2 hours of step on 8 inch bench with toning intervals (moderate to heavy cardio vascular and toning), stretch
thurs; one our of light cardio and toning, stretch
friday; intense cardio vascular bike and 8 inch bench for an hour with abs and a stretch
saturday (once a month, two hours of moderate to heavy cardio vascular with toning)
sundays and thursdays are usually my practice days, mon and tues are my lesson days...ideally, I would have more time for yoga in there
I come from a background of overtraining (more is not always better) so aside from dance, i currently keep my workouts fairly short. Usually only up to 20 min of interval training using primarily bodyweight exercises with some plyometric style jumping around and a bit of skipping rope, averaging about 4-5 times per week. I'm in the middle of selling my condo & moving so (moving is so disruptive!) so I haven't been as on top of my workouts and it is most definitely affecting my dancing. I die in a jive LOL
I don't have the time or energy to devote to hours of nothing but exercise. I do a ballet barre (nothing complex, demi/grande tendu releve kind of stuff, first, second, fourth and fifth) I try to do every day except when my body's really saying stop it. Where it REALLY shows is rise and fall in bolero. Free weight and resistance band, working the arms, upper back and core. Outdoor labor is exercise itself, too and just being on my feet all day.
I come from a family of runners, so when I'm trying to be good about doing stuff outside of the studio, that's usually what it comes down to. I've tried hot yoga, which I think would have been great for me had I kept up, but the commute wore me down (the studio was on the other side of town). I'm quite certain that I'd benefit from resistance training, but have never stuck to a plan.
Aside from the 3-4 times a week at ballroom/latin, I consistently do a weekly zumba class (sometimes two). Most weeks, I also add a day that has either tennis, ballet or yoga, depending on weather and how my week has been.
I try to keep one day as full rest (nothing more strenuous than a walk and some light stretching) and one lighter (active, but not full out) day in my week to give myself a chance to rest.
Yes we all have to find the exercise that works for us.
I too am a runner and while I don't know that it has made any improvement in my dance it has for sure increased my motivation and made me aware of how far I can push my body, which I can translate to dance....
I also find with running I listen very hard to my body... Am I on the outside of my foot, the inside....
Always looking forward, never down. Is posture right so I can support my body and make it through a 5K..
And this.... I like to exercise alone, I like to get "into my zone alone". Zumba would never work for me because I don't like to be social when I run. I want to be alone. And I talk to myself a lot. Zumba ladies would think I am crazy when I start saying outloud "ca'mon Jan, you can do this, don't give up"
Still some friends who have tired running hate it, I love it... Running in the snow in New England is also awesome!! Everyone has got to find that "thing"
I recently-ish got into free weight training. Not conventional for dancers, but I enjoy it a lot. Makes you feel really empowered I have done yoga sporadically, for something more directly beneficial for dance. Other dances like ballet or jazz could be good for developing posture and flexibility.
Well, if I didn't have some sort of workout routine, my weekly lessons would cripple me. So, as I have free access to our gym at work, I spend four nights a week on any combination of the treadmill, stationary bike, and/or stair-stepper (with upper body option). I have to be careful of my knees, but all this seems to really help.
During the period while I was not dancing I worked with a personal trainer who did a lot with core exercises - things like dumbbell bench press with upper back resting on a stability ball, knees bent, no bench, etc., and when I came back I found that these had increased my body awareness as well as my ability to support my posture from my core immeasurably.