Ballet is a beautiful form of dance and the professionals make it look so effortless. The amount of effort that goes into making something so beautiful is immense, same with the dedication and focus. Training to become a ballet dancer takes years of practice and it shows with their toned physiques.
Ballet fitness seems to be a rather new concept with studios offering them as classes in recent years. A new form of fitness that combines the stretches and movements of ballet along with exercise tools such as light weights and resistance bands, it has become a preferred form of exercise for many people.
Contrary to belief, there’s no need for any prior ballet experience but if you did it during your childhood, this is the perfect time to relive those sweet memories. The best of both worlds, ballet fitness combines the artistry of ballet with the physical exertion that a dancer’s daily training would entail. The usage of weights and resistance bands is a form of strength training which helps improve the size and strength of your muscles.
A ballet fitness class would usually be around an hour to an hour and a half and works major muscle groups such as the core and aims to improve your coordination, flexibility and also posture.
Ballet fitness incorporates ballet movements such as the plié, grand plié, relevé, sauté and knowledge of the five positions (shown above) would come in handy too.
Plié is when you stand in first position (ankles together, feet spread in opposite positions) and bend at the knees. This is sort of like a squat except your heels are pressed together and your knees will bend and point in opposite directions. Grand plié is when you bend lower at the knees while keeping your feet in the first position which is similar to a deep squat.
Relevé is when you rise up, keeping your feet together and knees straight while lifting your heels high enough that all your body weight is on the balls of your feet. This is kind of like tip toeing while maintaining the poise of a ballet dancer.
You’ve definitely seen ballet dancers jump in the air and land gracefully with nary a thump. Sauté is when you stand in a plié position, point your feet like you’re performing a relevé and then jump off both feet at the same time. Straighten and extend your legs in the air and land with both feet in a plié to cushion your knees.
Now we’ve covered the basics, during a ballet fitness workout, these classic ballet moves are employed along with ballet posture.
Each person must stand up straight as if they’re reaching for the ceiling with the top of their head. This also means having an elongated neck, neutral spine and relaxed shoulders.
Maintaining this posture may sound easy but along with the vigorous movements coupled with weights weighing down your arms, shaky legs are a common sight during these sessions.
Benefits of ballet fitness include improved posture, coordination, stamina and it is quite a load of fun, exercising to your favourite music!
Additionally, it also increases your overall strength as you use the small muscles of your feet, to the large muscles in your back, glutes and also calves. Ballet fitness is also a great way to improve your cardiovascular endurance, balance, and flexibility!