Fabrice Calmels, the Joffrey Ballet dancer who stands 6-feet-6.3 inches, was recently entered into the Guinness Book of Records as “the tallest dancer in the world.” So you might think that between daily classes, rehearsals and performances — and the sheer monumentality of his frame — he would have few worries about staying fit.
As it turns out, Calmels, 34, follows an almost demonic workout regime and is exceptionally mindful about his diet. Let him explain it in his own words:
“I run four miles a day, which takes about 30 to 40 minutes — either around the lake if the weather is good, or on a treadmill if it’s not. It’s very important to keep my heart rate at a good level. And I think about it this way: In a shorter ballet in the repertory I might be dancing for about 15 minutes; in something like “The Nutcracker” it could be 30 minutes. So I have to keep my stamina at a good level.
“I do a lot of sit-ups every day — about 200 of them as soon as I wake up in the morning. I also do a lot of back exercises which are necessary to build the strength for lifting my partners. To stretch the back and keep the core and stomach strong I do arches: Lying on my stomach with my hips pressed to the floor I arch my arms and legs up and hold them in place.
“I also go to the gym and lift weights on the bench — 100 to 110 pounds. When I was dancing “Othello” I went up to 230 pounds because it was such a physically difficult role and I needed to build mass and strength.
“The hard thing is going from periods of intense physical work during the performance season, to periods of relative inactivity. To keep my body in an active state I do a lot of walking.
“I’m very serious about what I eat, especially as I get older. I cook a lot of vegetables and make very rich salads every day — sometimes adding sliced steak. And I like mashed potatoes, but don’t eat too much. You should think of your stomach as the size of a fist and not stretch it, not get too full. I also take B12 vitamins; they give me added power.
“A little fast sugar can be good, but I don’t overdo it. My weak spot is Nutella. You could give me a jar of it and I would eat it all day with a spoon. I also splurge with Ferrero Rocher chocolates, and sometimes I make crepes.[Calmels was born and bred in France.]”