Getting your child ready for dance classes

Nutrition directly affects our performance. Think of yourself like a car. To get from A to B you will need fuel, without it you will either slow down or won’t move. The type of fuel is important too. You might need petrol; your friend might need diesel because your cars are different. You might need more fuel because you are planning on driving further than your friend.  It is the same with your body, it’s needs are individual.

As a parent of a young dancer it is important to try to ensure your child is adequately fuelled with nutrients that will fuel them and allow them to dance. Without the correct fuel they may feel weak, unfit, tired, unfocused and also be more prone to injury. Young dancers are athletes, we need to start thinking of them as such and should pay even more attention to their nutrition because of the stress they put their bodies through on a regular basis compared to other children and their constant need to recover. Street dance is a very physical activity and it’s important to think of the nutrients your child’s body requires to have the energy for street dance and other extra-curricular children’s activities.

Nutrition Post Covid-19

Nutrition post Covid-19/lockdown is even MORE important. Most children (and adults) have been a lot less active. Even those who continued to exercise or attend dance class were most likely not training at the same intensity, frequency or duration as they were pre-lockdown. They had to motivate themselves to push to their limits rather than receive feedback face to face from their teacher. There has been no walking to work and/or school, running around in the playground, etc. We often underestimate the amount of energy we are expelling and the workload our muscles are under doing these small daily activities. There is also the financial impact of lockdown on families which may have affected their food budget and what meals they can provide and subsequently the nutrition their children are receiving. A decrease in activity and possibly nutrients too means young dancers’ bodies are most likely a lot weaker than they were compared to pre-lockdown and we need to gradually work on building them back up to full health and fitness to give them the best possibility of returning to normal dance training in a realistic timeframe and reduce their risk of injury.


Covid-19/Lockdown may have resulted in:

  • Change in body composition (most likely less lean muscle mass and a higher body fat %)
  • Weight loss or gain
  • A change in financial circumstances resulting in a lower food budget which in turn affects the quality of the food that can be purchased
  • Disordered eating patterns or negative relationships with food

If your family have been affected by the above and you have noticed some changes, try not to panic, it’s completely normal, as a parent you have done your upmost best in this strange pandemic situation and stressing is not going to help anyone return to full health!

  •  However, NOW is the time to start implementing changes to ensure your child is a strong as they can be for when they return to class and for the future. It is about creating a generation of strong, healthy dancers and helping them form good habits while they are young to preserve their dance careers. Healthy looks different for everyone, but it all starts on the inside!

What nutrients does my child need at each meal as dance classes and other children’s activities restart?

It is important to eat balanced meals consisting of the macronutrients below to fuel and repair your child’s mind and body. As children’s activities levels start to rise, their appetites should too and that is completely normal. If you find your child does not feel hungrier, try to increase how much they are eating gradually so they are getting enough energy each day. Restricting nutrient groups and/or calories can be dangerous especially for children who are still developing. If your child is a fussy eater try to find a couple of things from each list that your child likes and build meals around those. Remember on top of getting your macronutrients in, it is also important to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. Try to get as many colours onto your child’s plate as possible and include veg – fruit has a lot of sugar – albeit natural. Plus remember to drink enough fluids, preferably water!


Protein (For muscle growth/repair/strength)

Try to get your sources from lean protein rather than processed or fried. Highly active children especially those in dance training should ensure they get adequate protein at each meal

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Dairy products
  • Meat alternatives such as Tofu, quorn, seitan

Carbohydrates (For energy)

Try to eat wholegrain versions as they contain more fibre which is important for digestion. Wholegrains breakdown differently to white refined versions which tend to release sugar quickly followed by a drop or “sugar low”

  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Cereal
  • Potatoes
  • Flour
  • Grains such as cous cous and quinoa
  • Fruit

Fats (Also for energy. Takes longer to digest so avoid before class)

Try to eat healthy unsaturated fats which can help heart health and circulation. Food high in saturated fats tend to have a low nutritional value

  • Full fat dairy products
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Oils and spreads
  • Olives
  • Coconut
  • Avocado


Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals we eat. These can come from food or supplements. You will consume some of these micronutrients in the foods above. Micronutrients can affect how our body functions and utilises/processes the food we eat. The below supplements are advised for young dancers (in addition to a balanced diet) in preparation of returning to physical classes and for them to continue once class starts in general for optimal health and performance.

  • Vitamin D – 10mcg/400iu per day (helps modulate the immune system)
  • General multivitamin

If your child is vegetarian:

  • General iron supplement

If your child is vegan or almost vegan you can find vegan friendly supplements:

  • B12
  • Iodine
  • Omega 3s
  • Iron (Iron levels are a major concern amongst vegan dancers)
  • Calcium (Calcium levels are a major concern amongst vegan dancers)

More info on vegan nutrition can be found here:

Remember returning to full health and fitness is a gradual process. This isn’t about dieting or restricting your child’s food. If they are getting the nutrients they need then of course they can have their favourite snack! Try to make small changes each day and aim to hit the macronutrients and micronutrients above. Start implementing it now and your child will thank you when we return to physical classes!


Elevate Arts provides specialist street dance classes for children based in Acton, Ealing in West London.

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