Q&A with ballet dancer Courtney Pruce

23 October 2017 by
First published: 2 November 2015

Q&A with ballet dancer Courtney Pruce

They say we find our passion by looking back at our childhood to figure out what we did when nobody was paying us to do anything. For Courtney Pruce, it was a different story. The now 21-year-old ballet dancer wasn’t drawn to any form of dance when she was younger. She learnt she was a natural by chance, and four years after her first class the dance prodigy from Kent was spotted by one of the most prestigious arts training courses in London.

Ten years later, she has mastered many different types of dance. She also sings and acts, all the while exercising up to six times a week. But it’s not just on stage that Pruce is en-pointe. The talented ballet dancer also takes aerial and hoop classes and fuels her busy training routine with delicious vegan and free-from recipes.

Outside of ballet, she’s also a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen. Here she spends as much time as she does in the studio. Capitalising on her mother’s cooking skills, she designs high protein, fitness-friendly meal plans for her online Clean Eating Guide. The guide promotes healthy food swaps for meals Courtney loves and flavour-rich, filling recipes.

Courtney shares with us her journey to becoming a successful fitness model and professional dancer. As well as her tips on how to sustain such a high-intensity life with fun, healthy cooking variations that reflect her will to put an end to eating disorder patterns and calorie restriction.

Q How did you get into dancing? 

A. I never did baby ballet or baby tap or anything when I was younger. I started dancing quite late in comparison to others and it was by chance that I stumbled upon my passion. I went to an all-girls grammar school and dance was brought in as a new subject in my GCSE year, so it was compulsory that everyone took part in the audition for the dance companies. Despite falling flat on my face and not really having a clue, my dance teacher obviously saw potential and put me into the A company. So that’s where it all started.

Q. What sort of dance do you specialise in? 

A. I trained in all aspects of musical theatre and dance. This includes ballet, tap, jazz, street, commercial, partner work, points and singing and acting, too. My favourite definitely has to be lyrical jazz.

Q. What other exercise do you do to stay fit?

A. I mainly do weight training. I train with weights around four times a week. Plus I do one or two HIIT cardio sessions, or I go for a run. Also, I regularly take dance classes, as it’s important to keep on track with my dance technique and stamina now that I’ve graduated. I’m also currently taking aerial silks and hoop classes, which are unbelievable upper body and core workouts. It requires a lot of strength to even get you up off the floor.

Q. What sparked your interest in healthy eating? And why do you think it’s so important?

A. I have always had a passion for cooking, as my mum always had my sister and I in the kitchen watching and helping her cook. She is an amazing chef and always felt it was really important that we understood cooking. My passion really began when I started to develop healthy recipes based on the foods I have always loved to eat. I realised that I can still enjoy the things I love and reach my goals by simply substituting ingredients for healthier alternatives. It’s so important to eat well so we can be the best versions of ourselves but more importantly, to enjoy what we are eating. I just want everyone to realise that you really can eat delicious, interesting and satisfying meals yet still be fit, healthy and in good shape.

Q. Do you cook a lot at home?

A. Yes I absolutely love cooking! Sometimes I can cook up to four or five times a day. I love spending time at the weekends baking clean treats. I often offer to cook for family dinners just so I can cook more. I love experimenting with flavours and finding healthy alternatives to the naughty things that I love to eat.

Q. What’s your favourite healthy meal to cook?

A. In terms of savoury meals, my all time favourite meal to cook definitely has to be good old chilli con carne. I love having the time to slow cook a chilli – you just can’t beat those delicious Mexican flavours. I could never get sick of it and the possibilities are endless. You can have it with tacos, pittas, rice, wraps or even just a big bowl on its own! I have a big sweet tooth, so I love baking pronuts (protein donuts) and covering them in all different sorts of delicious toppings.

Q. What’s your favourite foodie treat?

A. My favourite foodie treats have to be Musclefood’s Strawberry High Protein Gummies sweets (amazing) or the Prutella – protein chocolate and hazelnut spread (musclefood.com). Both are completely sugar free and have such ridiculously good macros for such tasty products.

Q. Your Instagram is packed with healthy food. Where do you get your inspo?

A. My inspiration comes from my love of cooking and all the foods I love to eat. I believe in having a healthy relationship with food, which means not restricting myself too much from the things I genuinely enjoy eating. So I basically take the naughty treats that I love and develop clean healthy versions by substituting ingredients for low calorie, high protein and sugar free alternatives. My recent high protein, low carb creations include cherry bakewells, jaffa cake bars and chocolate almond biscotti.

Q. What are your top three tips to help our readers make healthy cooking more fun?

A. •  Make your food tasty. Use seasonings and spices to make your food as delicious as possible, that way you will enjoy what you’re eating. It will feel more like a lifestyle choice than a strict diet. Don’t eat the same thing every single day, as you’ll get so bored of it and you’ll be less likely to stay healthy and consistent.

•  You don’t have to eat plain chicken and broccoli to get healthy – mix it up. There are so many delicious whole foods out there that you can still eat and hit your goals. But do try and have a different protein source for lunch and dinner every day.

•  Stop print screening the recipes you find on Instagram and saving them for later. Get in the kitchen and get baking. It’s so fun and there’s nothing more satisfying than clean treats that you’ve made yourself. There are so many amazing healthy recipes out there, especially ones to satisfy a sweet tooth.

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