Ballet: fun workout for everyone
by Marina Leskur
September 19, 2019
Love story between me and dancing started long time ago. I started dancing as a 7-year-old child and a big part of our classes was ballet. The more I went into the correctness of the movement, the more I saw the positive effects of this mode of workout.
In one part of my life I had an 8 hour working day. Dance classes started to be highlight of my working week. Although I was going tired to my dance classes, I was getting out of the studio lighter, more relaxed and with a sense of satisfaction. Today, I am a 32-year-old dance teacher and enjoying full time in all the benefits that this fun workout provides to participants.
What attracts me so much to ballet?
In my opinion, exercising is hard if you are not having fun. Everyone has some goals in exercising so sometimes we force ourselves to do some workout just to do what we have set out. I never had that feeling with ballet. Most of the time you exercise really hard without even being aware. You are focused on managing the routine or trying combine the movement of individual body parts. Few moments after you realize that you are sweating.
Ballet improves strength, balance, posture, increases grace and flexibility. All of this while a beautiful piano music guides you fluidly trough the movement. While I was working in an office, sitting most of my days and going through many stressful situations, the best way to end a day was a ballet class where I was focused on my body movement working with every single muscle while listening to beautiful music.
Ballet is for everyone. I went to many ballet classes across the world and it made me so happy to see that the classes were attended by people from 18 to 75 years, with or without previous ballet experience.
How to get started?
If you do not want to get out of your comfort zone, a good place to start is your home. There are many videos with very good ballet workout. You can even use a chair instead of a barre and enjoy the full range of ballet movement.
Second way is to visit some dance studios in your neighborhood. Popularity of this kind of exercising is increasing so many studios have ballet for adults. Best thing is most of them have a free first class so maybe you can try in few places and choose the best one for yourself.
What equipment do you need?
For recreational ballet it is enough to have proper footwear. There are many options to find ballet shoes, especially online, but the best thing is to ask the ballet teacher in case the studio prefers some specific one. The rest of the equipment is mainly up to you but the feeling is quite different when you wear ballet clothes. Of course, as a girl, I love having nice leotards or pink ballet leg warmers but it is not crucial to have all that at the beginning.
An important rule for female ballet dancers is to put the hair up. Every ballet teacher Iâ€™ve met has always pointed out this rule.
How does a class look like?
Every ballet class is different but there are some several common parts that are worth to be mentioned. A regular ballet class starts on a barre. It is like a warmup for the second part of the class. It gives you the opportunity to activate some muscles you didnâ€™t even know existed.
After the warm up the next part is center work. Now everything looks more challenging because there is no support of the barre. There are several parts of the center workout. Some parts of the barre exercise, Adagio (a slower part where balance and control are in focus) and Allegro (faster and livelier part). In the end is mostly a combination where you can release your inner ballet dancer.
Last part is a Reverance or a small choreographed bow to the teacher and the pianist if there is one. It is usually performed with light music and with great grace.
What are the benefits of ballet workout?
Ballet increases your strength so you will see after a while of ballet workout how everyday tasks becomes easier for you, like carrying things or similar activities.
Since stretching is a big part of ballet classes you will see your flexibility increasing. Flexibility is very important because it increases muscle and joint mobility which will help us to reduce the risk of injury.
Different types of workout and dance routines will improve your coordination.
Everything you do on a ballet class you need to do it with a good posture so after a while you will see how your posture is getting better. Not only because it is on your mind so you are trying to correct it but also because your core and back muscles will get stronger and therefore your posture will also get better.
We live in a stressful and fast moving world, so this is the benefit I wanted to point out: stress relief. You need to clear your mind for 1 hour (or as long as the ballet class lasts) and just think about the movement, the routines and the music. From my own experience, no matter how hard my day was, on a ballet class everything disappears.
If you still think that ballet is not for everyone you can always start at home with some instructional videos. The most important thing in ballet is to pay attention to the details. At first it will not be easy but it is really important to do the exercises in a correct way.
But the best way is to go to some dance studio and to find ballet for adults. You will see that the energy of other participant, the teacher and hopefully the pianist is also a big part of ballet dancing.
So leave your prejudices, go to the nearest dance studio and try ballet!