New York City Ballet principal dancer Amar Ramasar knows a thing or two about pain.

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Episode 3 of AMERICAN DOERS, a new 12-part video series featuring original thinkers, innovators, craftspeople, risk-takers and artisans across the United States.

New York City Ballet principal dancer Amar Ramasar knows a thing or two about pain.

The Bronx-born dancer, 35, who stars in the company’s production of The Nutcracker this season, admits he’s in constant discomfort.

“I’m always in pain,” he tells PEOPLE. “My back is hurting, my calves are hurting, my knees.

“When I wake up in the morning, there’s lots of pain involved. Like a football game every night. That’s how intense your body feels.”

Amar Ramasar - 3
Credit: Dorie Hagler

But the grueling rehearsal schedule — 13 hours a day, six days a week — is worth it.

“You build such a strong tolerance for it, you almost get numb to it,” he says. “And you love it, so you do it.”

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It’s that love that drives Ramasar to give his all on stage each night.

“The minute you do the first step, you forget it all,” he says. “You go into this surreal place that’s indescribable.”