Upcoming Performances

July 4th – 8th – North American Irish Dance Championships – Nashville, TN

July 11th – 10:00 am – Summer Library Program

July 13th – 1:00 pm – Summer Library Program

July 30th – 2:00 pm – McElligott School’s Annual Showcase at the Sherman Theater – 524 Main St, Stroudsburg, PA

25th Anniversary For Heather Sparks as an Irish Dance Teacher

It has been an incredible journey these last 25 years. I had no idea the journey I was embarking on when I took and passed the CLRG teaching exam 25 years ago. I have created so many incredible friendships and we have shared so many memories along the way. I am blessed to have been able to do what I love all of this time.

The surprise party was such an emotional event for me and I was overwhelmed with the responses and kind words. I could not believe that I was not only able to enjoy it with current students but I was also able to share it with former students. I was and still am overwhelmed with the outpouring of kindness shown to me . This wonderful video was put together and given to me at the event and I will cherish is always.

I look forward to what the future has to hold for all of us as we move forward towards new and exciting things in the future. HERE’S TO THE NEXT 25 YEARS !!

Irish Dance Periodization: A 12 month Training Program

What is a Periodization?

A Periodization is a year long training program to progress the athletes’ performance in a systematic manner. This will allow the athlete to perform at their peak in time for their biggest competition, but will also take them out of competition season, without getting burnt out. Our program will be split into 4 cycles divided throughout the year:

1. Total Body Fun/Active Rest: December, January, and February

2. Muscular Endurance: March, April, May

3. Muscular Strength: June, July, August

4. Power: September, October, November


Total Body Fun/Active Rest

Total Body Fun/Active Rest:

After competing and training hard for and entire year, you want to really take the time off to rest and get back into a more relaxing workout routine. Do exercises you don’t typically do. Stay active, but keep things more light and enjoyable as to not burn out.

In this phase we will have 5 different workouts available:

  1. Total body #1
  2. Total body #2
  3. Core
  4. Conditioning
  5. Flexibility

Equipment needed: Resistance band

Total Body #1

12 reps each exercise

Repeat each circuit 4 times

Rest between each round

Round 1:

  • Push ups (inclined if needed)
  • Resistance band (RB) rows
  • RB overhead presses

Round 2:

  • 1 leg sit to stands
  • Reverse lunges
  • Elevated hip bridges

Round 3:

  • Sit ups
  • Bicycles
  • Leg lifts

Total body #2

Repeat each circuit 3x

  • 10/10 Plank ups
  • 10/10 Lateral lunges
  • 20/20 Russian twists


  • 20 RB face pulls
  • 10/10 Curtsy lunges
  • 40 Toe touches


  • 20 RB band presses
  • 10/10 Speed skaters
  • 20/20 Heel touches


30 seconds each exercise

30 seconds rest after each exercise

Repeat each exercise 5x

  • Low plank hold
  • High plank hold
  • Banana hold
  • Crunches
  • Boat pose
  • Six inch flutters
  • Starfish


1 minute each exercise

Repeat each circuit 3x

Little to no rest between rounds

2-3 minute rest between each new circuit

  • High knee run
  • Squat jumps
  • Bear crawls
  • Butt kickers
  • Jump lunges
  • Burpees
  • Jumping jacks
  • Roll ups
  • Shoulder taps
  • Running man
  • Speed skaters
  • Plank knee taps
  • Football quick feet
  • Ski hops
  • Hand circle walks


Hold each stretch for 30 seconds OR LONGER

Repeat each circuit 4 times

  • Seated forward fold
  • Legs wide forward fold
  • Butterfly fold
  • Hurdle stretch—right leg
  • Hurdle stretch—left leg
  • Fire log—right leg
  • Fire log—left leg
  • Standing forward fold
  • Wide leg fold—right leg
  • Wide leg fold—left leg
  • Dragon stretch—right leg
  • Dragon stretch—left leg
  • Bow pose
  • Quad pull—right leg
  • Quad pull—left leg
  • Down dog

Muscular Endurance Phase

Muscular Endurance Phase:

In this phase we will train the muscles to contract repeatedly with some light resistance and higher repetitions.
Equipment needed: 3 and/or 5lb dumbbells (DBs); agility ladder (optional)

In a week, complete 2 lifting days, 2 conditioning days, one freebie day (choose a workout from the previous phase) and one off day.
Example of Splits:

  1. Day 1: upper body and lower body
  2. Day 2: agility
  3. Day 3: Lower body and core work
  4. Day 4: Conditioning
  5. Day 5: off
  6. Day 6: Your choice (choose any workout from the past training phase)

Upper and lower body

20 reps for 4 sets.
Take a 30 second break between each set.
Then move on to the next exercise.

  • Seated squats (or regular squats if form is good)
  • Bent over rows (using DBs)
  • Low lunge pulses (20 reps each leg)
  • Reverse flys (DBs)
  • Everest mountain climbers
  • Negative push ups
  • Forward and backward lunges (f to b = 1 rep, only do 10 reps)
  • Fat cows (standard on knees =20 rounds. For a challenge do it in a high plank, only 10 rounds)

Lower body and core work

20 reps each circuit
4 sets

  • Running step ups (use a step or box at home)
  • Deadlifts (with DBs)
  • Wide leg sumo squats (with DBs)
  • 1 arm DB swings
  • Glute bridge on bench or chair
  • Walking lunges
  • Ski abs (up and back = 1 rep)
  • V-ups (10 reps)
  • Spiderman mountain climbers (20 total)


Use an agility ladder, make one using chalk outside, or simply use your imagination and perform each exercise with a rep count of 12.

Ladder suicide:
Start at the top of the ladder, sprint halfway down, touch the floor, then return to start. Once at the start, touch the ground, then sprint to the opposite end of the ladder, touch, and return as fast as you can back to the start.

  • Up, one, two (R. leg down, L. leg back) + ladder suicide
  • 7’s (R. down, L. back) + ladder suicide
  • 1 leg forward hops (R, then L) + ladder suicide
  • 1 leg lateral hops (R, then L) + ladder suicide
  • 1 leg backward hops (R, then L) + ladder suicide

2-3 min break, then repeat 3 more times.


Treadmill, outdoor run, or elliptical

  • Run for 5 minutes, walk for 5 minutes
  • Run for 4, walk for 4
  • Run for 3, walk for 3
  • Run for 2, walk for 2
  • Run for 1, walk for 1

As your time gets shorter, your running speed should increase so that you are sprinting for your last 1 minute run.


Muscular Strength Phase

Muscular Strength Phase

In this phase we will focus on building our muscle mass with heavier loads and lower reps.

Equipment needed: 1-10lb dumbbell; 1-20lb dumbbell; and a yoga ball
*If your child is not old enough to lift weights, stick to bodyweight exercises, or use 3-5lb dumbbells and adjust each workout.

In a week, complete 2 lifting days, 2 conditioning days, one freebie day (choose a workout from a previous phase) and one off day.

Dumbbell reverse pyramid

Warm up: 30 bodyweight squats

  1. Goblet squats
    • 20lb weight, 10 reps, 30 sec rest, repeat 3x
    • 10lb weight, 15 reps, 30 sec rest, 3x
    • Bodyweight, 20 reps, 30 sec rest, 3x
  2. Deadlifts
    (same pattern as above)
  3. Kneeling stand ups
    • 20lb weight, 5 reps each leg, 30 sec rest, 3x
    • 10 lb weight, 8 reps, 30 sec rest, 3x
    • Bodyweight, 10 reps, 30 sec rest, 3x
  4. DB rows
    • 20 lbs, 5 reps, 30 sec rest, 3x
    • 10 lbs, 10 reps, 30 sec rest, 3x
    • 5 lb, 15 reps, 30 sec rest, 3x
  5. Abs: yoga ball ladder, one and done, rest as little as possible between each change in rep count
    • 20 reps regular crunches, 20 reps right side crunch, 20 reps left side crunch
    • 10 reps regular crunch, 10 reps right side, 10 reps left side
    • 5 reps regular crunch, 5 reps right side, 5 reps left side

Yoga ball strength

  1. Yoga ball wall squats (hold squat at bottom position for 2 secs)
    • 20 bodyweight squats, 1 minute rest
    • 15 reps, 10 lb weight, 1 minute rest
    • 10 reps, 20 lb weight, 1 minute rest
    • 10 reps, 20 lb weight, 1 minute rest
  2. Bodyweight yoga ball hamstring curls (hold position for 2 secs at top)
    • 12 reps, 4 sets, 30 sec rest between each set
  3. Split leg lunge (use yoga ball or chair)
    • 15 reps each leg, bodyweight, 1 minute rest
    • 12 reps each leg, 10lb weight, 1 minute rest
    • 8 reps each leg, 20lb weight, 1 minute rest
    • 8 reps each leg, 20lb weight, 1 minute rest
  4. Curtsy lunge to high knee hold
    • 15 reps each leg, bodyweight, 1 minute rest
    • 12 reps each leg, 10lb weight, 1 minute rest
    • 10 reps each leg, 20 lb weight, 1 minute rest
    • 10 reps each, 20lb weight, 1 minute rest
  5. One leg DB deadlift with yoga ball
    • 15 each leg, bodyweight, 1 minute rest
    • 12 each leg, 10lb weight, 1 minute rest
    • 10 each leg, 20lb weight, 1 minute rest
    • 10 each leg, 20lb weight, 1 minute rest


Go down the list and complete each exercise for 1 minute. Repeat the list 3x.

  • yoga ball standing rows
  • yoga ball high plank—feet on ball
  • 1 leg standing balance with arms in dance position; 30 sec each leg (challenge: keeps eyes shut)
  • overhead turtle arms
  • seated in and out abs
  • 1 leg calf raises; 30 sec each leg
  • low plank arms on ball

Hill/incline sprints

Run up an incline for 30 secs, then walk for 1 minute. Repeat 10x


Power Phase

Power Phase

This is the phase where we put the muscles we have spent all year developing into good use and train them to be powerful and explosive.  This will result to higher and quicker lifts while dancing.

Equipment needed:  12-18” box—Box height depends on ability and comfort level.

In a week, complete all 4 workouts, and include one rest day and one freebie day.

Plyo box

1 minute on, 1 minute off, repeat each exercise 4x then move down the list.

  • Box jumps
  • Explosive step ups
  • Explosive side hops
  • Toe taps
  • 1 leg seated squat hops (30 seconds each leg)

1 Leg focus

16 reps each leg, 4 sets, 30 sec rest between sets

  • 1 leg deadlift to a high knee jump
  • speed skaters
  • 1 leg lunge to high knee jump
  • 1 leg “x” hops

Plyo conditioning

30 seconds on, 15 seconds off. Go through list, and then repeat 4x.

  • plyo jumping jacks
  • gorilla squat jumps
  • Burpees to the floor
  • pop squats
  • ski jumps in place
  • ski abs
  • tuck jumps
  • frog hops
  • weighted jumping jacks with 5lb weight


Jump rope

100 regular jumps, 100 jumps on right leg, 100 jumps on left leg
Repeat same pattern with: 75 reps, 50 reps, 25 reps