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Fitness Tips From Professional Dancers

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By Tiffany Tse for Shape.com

How do professional dancers keep those lean, mean physiques? Sure, they dance for a living (and burn off hundreds of calories while doing so), but they also work hard at maintaining their perfectly toned figures. We asked four all-star dancers to share their best fitness tips that you can use at home or at the gym, even if you have two left feet.

1. Lacey Schwimmer
As Lady Foot Locker's brand ambassador (and former "Dancing With the Stars" cast member), Lacey Schwimmer knows what it takes to keep her body in top shape. The dancer/singer keeps her legs toned at home by doing toe rises, known as "releves" in the ballet world. The simple exercise effectively targets your calves, thighs and glutes.

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"Stand by a nearby wall, bar or table for balance and put one of your ankles to your opposite knee," Schwimmer says. "Rise up on one foot as high as you can go, then come back down."

Do this 50 times total, but alternate feet after 3 reps. Make sure to point your toes of the lifted foot and stretch when you're finished!

"This will prevent injury and help your muscles heal faster and grow stronger," Schwimmer says.

2. Laurieann Gibson
When she's not working with stars like Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry or Janet Jackson, Laurieann Gibson is working on her own lean physique. The Emmy-nominated director, choreographer and creative director stresses the importance of warming up your body.

"I like to always remind my dancers about ways to avoid injury," Gibson says. Dancers often succumb to lower-body injury because of long rehearsal hours. But with a few simple tips, her dancers (and you) can stay injury free.

"One of the basic ways to avoid injury is to always make sure to stretch and warm up your body. This will loosen up your muscles, which will help to avoid common strain injuries such as shin splints and ankle strains," Gibson says.

Another tip for best results: Add variety to your workout routine. "I believe it's extremely important to include some other type of fitness activity in your training, so cross training will help you to avoid injury when you are dancing," she says. "I personally love to run outdoor fitness trails. I love the meditative value I get when out alone, challenging myself to run faster and higher."

3. Cheryl Burke
Between her gigs as a professional dancer on Dancing With the Stars and her role as a Macy's spokesperson, Cheryl Burke juggles a busy schedule! She dished her simple secret for sculpting her bod into taut and toned shape -- all in the privacy of her home!

"I love to work out to my Jazzercise DVDs at home," Burke says. "The new ones are Latin dance-based and really provide a wonderful workout. I can burn up to 600 calories an hour working out with them."

4. Briana Evigan
Actress and dancer Briana Evigan has been dancing her whole life, but she took her talent to the big screen in 2008 when she starred as Andie West in "Step Up 2: The Streets." Evigan credits her slim body to a consistent exercise routine, including lots of intense dance classes like hip hop.

"Hip hop classes and ballet are what I've been keeping up with, and of course my usual abdominal workout, which consists of 500 sit-ups a session. Or I take a 30-minute abs class at my gym. But dance classes are a full-body cardio workout, which always brings me success and keeps me feeling great," she says.

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