Fitness

Isabella Boylston Shares Her Daily Quarantine Routine

Isabella Boylston may be a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater, but for a large part of quarantine, she was working out at her kitchen counter just like everyone else. “It’s been very surprising to me to see how many people have a barre in their house,” she tells SELF. “I’ve actually never even had one.”

Boylston has held her principal dancer title since 2014, and joined the Company at the American Ballet Theater, or ABT, in 2006. She has danced the lead in a number of the world’s most famous ballets, including Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet, and just last week reprised her role as Clara the Princess in a special virtual performance of Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker. When she’s not dancing at ABT, Boylston rules on social media. On Instagram she hosts Ballerina Book Club, a monthly interactive book club, and regularly shares whimsical (and gorgeous) at-home ballet content.

Boylston lives with her husband in Brooklyn. Here she walks SELF through her quarantine routine, her mental health advice for young dancers, and her go-to outdoor workout that makes people stare.

Courtesy of Isabella Boylston

Right now I feel like I’m doing pretty well. I’ve definitely had a lot of ups and downs.

A real low point was when our Met season at Lincoln Center got canceled. Even though it wasn’t necessarily a surprise because one by one our tours got canceled, and then they shut down the studios, so I had a feeling it was coming. But it’s still like our playoffs season. It’s our favorite time of year, and it’s the thing that we train and work so hard for. But I’m trying to stay positive, and give myself a daily schedule.

When it comes to practicing, I’ve been doing everything in my kitchen, basically.

I ordered a patch of marley, which is the special floor that we use to dance on. It’s not as good as what we have at the studio because it’s not sprung, but it helps that I can at least put my pointe shoes on and do pointe work.

On a typical day, I usually wake up around 9 a.m., and then I make coffee.

I eat an egg and cheese sandwich that I make and usually put some spinach or arugula on it. I’ll spend an hour or two working on emails, and I usually have at least one Zoom meeting every day about various subjects. And then I’ll start warming up for my live-streamed class—at 2 p.m. I do a ballet class or a different workout class. Last week I did a Pilates class with my friend on IGTV—she’s a Pilates instructor and an ex-ballerina. And then after that I’ll eat lunch and then go outside. Sometimes I’ll go outside and jump, as if I were in the ballet studio. I can’t really jump in my apartment. The floor is just too hard. So I’ll go to an empty area outside and just jump. People are very intrigued. And especially kids; it’s so cute. They’ll just stare at me and be like, “What is she doing?” It probably looks extremely bizarre.

When the day is over, my husband and I will have a glass of wine. He’s been doing most of the cooking.

Thankfully, because he’s a much better cook than me. And then either we’ll both go into our own little worlds and read, or we’ll watch something together. We’ve been watching the Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance. And then I end my day with a bath and reading in bed. I’m reading this sci-fi series—the first book in the series is called The Fifth Season. It’s by N.K. Jemisin. She’s based in Brooklyn, I think, so maybe I could meet her one day. All three books won the Hugo Award, and she was the first author to have every book in a series win it.

Honestly, we still are managing to have our time to ourselves, which is helpful.

My husband goes surfing in the Rockaways, and he’ll go for long bike rides or skateboarding. I feel like he does his thing, and then I have my ballet things. So that’s been helpful, to have a little bit of space. But overall it’s been really nice, because usually his schedule and my schedule are so opposite. So I have to say it’s been pretty nice to spend more time together.

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