Updated: May 3, 2020
Toned, strong, graceful.
Look at any ballet dancer and these are probably words you would use to describe their physique. It is perhaps no wonder then, that ballet based fitness classes are increasing in popularity.
These days there are many different types of ballet fitness or barre classes out there. I am a Pilates teacher, with a strong background in classical ballet. I incorporate ballet and Pilates techniques into my Ballet Fitness Fusion classes, staying true to the intent and purpose of each movement.
So why do people love it, and why is it such an effective form of exercise?
Ballet dancers are trained to make difficult movements look effortless, but make no mistake, ballet works your body hard!
One of the main reasons that ballet is such an effective form of exercise is that is requires full body integration. It doesn’t matter if you are doing a plie (bending of the knees), tendu (leg extension) or port de bras (arm movement), the whole body is working; maintaining posture, keeping turn out etc.
Another reason is its focus on correct form. Similar to Pilates, in ballet it is not simply about the movement itself but the technique with which you execute it that makes all the difference. In Pilates I often tell my clients “if it’s easy you’re probably not doing it right” and the same applies to ballet. Every movement requires focus on technique and form, thus from beginning to end of class your body is working hard!
Ballet fitness also offers an opportunity to learn a new skill and have fun, and it is well known that you are more likely to stick with an exercise class that you enjoy and makes you feel good.
How is a ballet fitness class structured?
This will depend on the type of class you attend. My classes start with a short warm up before heading to the barre. Following the barre work we may do some standing work in the centre and will always finish on the mat. I fuse ballet and Pilates techniques in my classes as they complement each other so well. In addition to the barre, we may sometimes use small equipment such as Pilates soft balls, resistance bands and light hand weights. The class is structured to incorporate strength, balance and flexibility.
I also teach specially designed classes for those over 65 years of age and wanting a gentler paced class. The focus is on exercises to help improve every day function, including stability, strength and balance. This class uses a combination of barre, centre and chair work.