Finding the right workout is sometimes difficult. What if you really enjoyed dancing in ballet class as a child? Is it possible to enjoy it years later?
Lately ballet has morphed from an art we only enjoyed from the audience to a wonderful and healthy movement we can enjoy as a fitness class. Ballet as fitness builds strong bones, aids in weight loss, promotes long and lean muscles, and improves posture. For a woman of any age, all of these benefits are bonuses to our health. Remember, you don’t have to be a professionally trained ballerina. You don’t even have to do the movement perfectly.
Another important aspect to a ballet fitness program is the physical awareness and grace that becomes a natural part of life. It’s surprising, but the repeated movement does something very interesting—repeated movement creates muscle memory and trains your brain. Your physical carriage (the way you hold your body) changes, your movements become more graceful, and your entire spine will benefit from the training. Even 39 years later I am still asked why I walk like a ballerina. The training becomes part of you. And to be honest, I was a terribly clutzy kid. Ballet was my mom’s attempt to help me understand how to control my own body. For the most part it works, but I still trip over the floor all by myself. I just go down much more gracefully
I started ballet workouts at home several weeks ago for a few reasons. My time is severely limited and I haven’t danced ballet since the fifth grade. Personally, I wasn’t ready for the demands of a ballet class. I’ll be honest, I was nervous about keeping up and looking silly too. Some of the language of ballet is long forgotten as are many of the movements. I never made it to en pointe dancing. We moved too far away from the ballet school that year. Then my mom became a single mom and the finances wouldn’t allow for any extras. I’m so thankful for the few years I had that helped me appreciate both the art and the fitness aspects.
My home ballet workouts are simple to follow, though they really challenge me. The other awesome part to my workout at home is that I control the time of day and the length of the workout. Is controlling your time and the length of session something that interests you? I feel comfortable working out at home with my own physical abilities. I modify as needed and only push to my capability. (And I don’t have to worry what someone else will think of me flailing around my living room.)
Ballet fitness programs vary in degree of difficulty and sometimes combine other forms of exercise like Pilates. But many are targeted at beginners and build a foundation. Yes, you can find intermediate and advanced as well. Not sure you want to buy a DVD or pay for a class? Why not try it first at home. Where? Well, don’t trip over your feet… I found so many free on Youtube ranging from 10 minutes to 2 hours that it will take me months to use them all.
The DVD programs are available from a variety of instructors. I personally purchased one from Xtend Barre called Lean & Chiseled. (This is not a specific endorsement of any program, just a suggestion of one I like because of the Pilates element I’m very familiar with when I coach.)
Ultimately, fitness is about finding the manner of physical movement that you enjoy because then you’ll stick with it. In the process, ballet fitness is one of many different things to try on your journey to a physically fit lifestyle.
What’s your favorite form of movement?