Cross-training is often lauded as vital for the health of dedicated athletes. We’ve heard the lengthy list of benefits before: stronger joints, better cardiovascular endurance, well-rounded strength and fewer injuries.

However, a guest contributor on DanceAdvantage explored another benefit of physical activity that doesn’t involve a barre or a marley floor. Backpacking, she said, has an interesting relationship with dance, and the benefits aren’t unidirectional. For Melanie Doskocil, a retired dancer and the director of the School of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, dance helped with bush-whacking as much as the other way around.

Spatial awareness was the key to this, as she detailed in her post. She cited dancers’ tendency of comical clumsiness in day-to-day activities, tempered by the ethereal grace and subtlety onstage. It’s a weird dichotomy that many of us are familiar with and Doskocil proposes an interesting hypothesis: first, that spatial awareness can be honed and second, that this skill can be useful in more situations than just performing.

Check out Doskocil’s post here for the full story, some great photos and a new alternative to your Zumba class at the gym. Do you have a non-dance workout that helps with your performing? Leave details in the comments below!