Camille Bracher is a dancer, a fitness coach you need to know. She began dancing at a very young age through her mother, a contemporary dancer and choreographer.
She trained privately with Martin Schonberg at Ballet Theatre Afrikan and at the age of 15 she won the Outstanding Contemporary Dancer Award at the 2007 Youth America Grand Prix in New York.
GLAMOUR South Africa caught up with the Johannesburg born dancer to chat about fitness and her career.
What sparked your passion for fitness and living a healthy lifestyle? Was this always important to you, or did a certain instance in your life inspire it?
I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a professional dancer. As a dancer your body plays such an essential role in your job. It is therefore imperative for you to nourish and nurture yourself so that you are able to perform at your peak. I’m lucky that I grew up in a healthy yet unrestrictive household which supported my dancer lifestyle. I have always eaten healthily without stopping myself from enjoying my food and eating what I like.
When I tell people that I am a professional dancer they often ask me- do you eat? And my response is that if I didn’t eat, I would never be able to perform. Rehearsing all day and then performing at night requires a large amount of energy. If you don’t fuel yourself correctly you would never be able to perform at the level expected of you in a company like the Royal Ballet.
Knowing that time is a major factor when working out and becomes a deterrent for many people, how is it that you are able to manage the demands of your busy schedule and still make time to incorporate fitness into your lifestyle?
As a dancer, my lifestyle is intertwined with my fitness schedule. I do feel very fortunate that my job promotes being fit, strong and motivated and I don’t have to find time to work out after hours. I know this isn’t the case for many people so I like to design short workouts from (10 minutes to 40 minutes) so that my clients can easily fit working out into their schedules.
What is your fitness mantra/philosophy, and how has it evolved?A healthy body - A healthy mind. It has been scientifically proven that exercising helps to release endorphins and therefore helps us to feel invigorated and empowered.
I don’t feel that working out should be done as a societal pressure. But rather as something to keep you healthy and inspired! Our bodies are incredible.
They can adapt and change so quickly and they should be celebrated and cared for. Exercising can impact your mental health by helping you to stay positive and energised.
What is your current fitness regimen, and your nutrition plan you use to stay in shape?
I don’t have a set regimen to be honest. At the moment I am teaching a lot of dance classes on zoom which helps me to stay fit.
I do not follow a strict diet as I burn a lot of calories during the day and have never wanted to follow a restrictive diet. I tend to eat healthy lunches like salads or avo on toast and then go with the flow for the rest.
What is the best fitness advice you have ever received, and from whom?
Simple-What you put in is what you get out. My dance teacher told me that when I was training to become a professional. I knew that I would never make it into a company if I didn’t put in the necessary hours.
What's something most people may not know about you?
I am really bad at long distance running. Give me a four-act ballet to dance any day but I can’t seem to get my flow going when I go for a run.
What's the biggest mistake that fitness newbies make?
Do not compare yourself to others! We are all different and have completely different bodies and capabilities. In a world of social media, it is easy to get wrapped up in it all. Remember that social media can distort reality so stick to your own path and set your own goals to strive towards.
Why is it important for people to stay fit… and how can we overcome procrastination and fear of working out on a regular basis?
I truly believe that being fit has such a positive and tangible impact on our everyday lives. It is not just about looking after our bodies, but also about looking after our mental health.
I find that exercising often helps me to improve my mood, come up with solutions to problems when my endorphins are flowing as well as help me to keep my stress levels low.
In a time of so much uncertainty, add some level of control to your life by planning your schedule and making time for you! This should include some time for working out in whatever form that inspires you.
Whether it’s walking, yoga, dance ( not that I’m biased or anything) schedule some time in and just take that first step. Yes pun totally intended. Once you’ve done that first workout it becomes easier and easier. And make sure to keep trying different things until you find something that works for you.
What sorts of strength training exercises are most beneficial in developing strong muscles and keeping a high level of physical fitness? Weight training vs cardio? What muscle groups?
I am a big fan of slow and controlled exercises. For example, just slowing a squat down can step up the challenge.
A dance class has a very specific structure. It starts at the barre with slow and controlled exercises and as you progress it becomes more challenging ending with big jumps in the centre which helps to build stamina and endurance.
I love my workouts to have a flow to them, like a choreographed dance, so that you are targeting different muscle groups all the time. I do not do a lot of weight lifting exercises as I think it can be so effective to use your body weight to create long and lean muscles.
As a dancer it is hugely important for me to find the correct balance of strength and flexibility so stretching out after a workout is a must.