On Pointe: Misty Copeland's Diet and Fitness Secrets as a Ballerina


Oct. 25 2023, Updated 11:20 p.m. ET

To some, Misty Copeland might seem like the epitome of natural talent. Watching her glide effortlessly across the theater is nothing short of spectacular. However, while there’s no doubt Misty is a generational talent, there’s a lot more than goes on behind the scenes.

Unlike some other ballerinas, Misty didn’t have an easy childhood. Her family ran into financial troubles, and she spent her early years living in motels. She got into ballet at 13, which is very late for professional dancers.

Despite all this, Misty worked extremely hard. She turned professional after only a year and went on to become the only Black principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater in 2015.

Nowadays, Misty still follows a strict diet and fitness regimen to stay in top shape. It’s a combination of this, her natural talent, and her work ethic that make her truly one of a kind.

Misty Copeland’s Diet

Contrary to what people might think, ballerinas eat a lot. Dancing is a physically demanding task, and it requires not only plenty of calories, but nutrients, vitamins, and minerals as well.

Misty is a pescatarian, her protein intake revolves around fish, and she avoids red meats like pork. Red meats are harder to digest than fish and may lead to tiredness while performing. It’s also believed that avoiding red meats helps with inflammation and recovery.

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“I realized dietary discipline doesn't have to mean deprivation,” she wrote in her book, Ballerina Body. “Nuts have become my go-to snack. I keep a baggie or a small container of them in my purse and my locker at ABT's rehearsal studio because I've found that they satisfy my hunger and give me a quick spike of energy.”

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She also takes in a healthy amount of fats from foods like salmon and avocado, and a lot of fruits and vegetables. Lastly, Misty also makes sure to get in some complex carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, and whole-grain bread, which gives her enough energy for the long days of practice.

Misty Copeland’s Fitness Regimen

Misty’s stellar performances are not only due to hours and hours of practice. There’s a fair bit of workout and fitness training that goes on behind the scenes to ensure peak performance.

Every day, Misty performs 20 relevés per foot, which prepares her calves for the strain of training.

Most people don’t acquaint ballerinas with weight training, but it’s an integral part of Misty’s regimen. Misty often strengthens muscle groups that are specifically important for ballet, like her ankles and calves.

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Then there’s pilates, which is slow, controlled movements of the body, which help with flexibility and coordination. Misty also often goes swimming to ensure she keeps a high level of stamina.

Finally, Misty Copeland is a big advocate for mindfulness in training. She always makes sure her form is proper, pays attention to her breathing, and listens to her body to make sure she isn’t pushing herself too hard.

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Behind The Scenes of a Natural Ballerina

Misty’s rise to the top is a testament to how talented she is as a dancer. But peek behind the scenes, and you’ll find that it’s never talent alone. Misty Copeland is a shining example of the fact that taking care of your diet and incorporating a good fitness regimen can shoot you to your fullest potential.

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