A Ballet Inspired Workout

Have you been to the ballet recently? Ballet dancers are fit. They have muscle, endurance, and the artistic quality to make what they do look both easy and beautiful. I trained in ballet for almost 20 years. Basic ballet movements are still my go-to exercise. It leans, tones, and lengthens, builds strength and posture. While in the kitchen doing dishes or hanging out watching TV, I like to get in a short ballet-inspired work out. I use a sturdy chair or my kitchen counter as a ballet barre to hold on to with one hand for balance.

A Basic Ballet Movement Workout

Pliés & Rises

Pliés in first position are one of foundational steps of ballet. To plié means “to bend”.

1. Place your feet together and slowly rotate your legs from the hip so your feet form a small V shape, feet flat, toes out and heels together. This is first position.

2. Bend your legs, keep your knees over your toes and don’t let them fall inward toward each other. Your tailbone should point straight to the floor and your torso should remain upright.

3. Only go as far down as is comfortable.

4. Slowly straighten your legs and continue rising up onto the balls of your feet. Balance for a moment.

5. Slowly lower down until your feet are once again flat on the floor.

Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

You can make this more difficult by doing a plié while balancing on the balls of your feet.

 

Wide Pliés & Rises

Second position is a wider stance than first position.

1. Place your feet hip to shoulder width apart, with your toes still turned out like in first position.

2. Plié by bending your legs. Keep your knees over your toes and don’t let them fall inward toward each other. Your tailbone should point straight to the floor and your torso should remain upright. Only go as far down as is comfortable. You will probably be able to go lower than in first position.

3. Slowly straighten your legs and continue rising up onto the balls of your feet. Balance for a moment.

4. Slowly lower down until your feet are once again flat on the floor.

Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

You can make this more difficult by doing a plié while balancing on the balls of your feet.

 

Arms

A movement of the arms in ballet is called a port de bras. Look at the below sketch of ballet arm positions.

ballet-positions-cecchetti1

1. Hold your arms in front of your thighs, with a slight curve in the elbows to make fifth position en bas.

2. Slowly bring your arms up above your head to fifth position en haut. Stop once your hands are just in front of your forehead, as if shading your eyes from the sun.

3. Slowly open your arms to the sides, to second position of the arms. There should be a smooth slope from your shoulder down to your hands.

4. Slowly lower your arms further to return to fifth position en bas.

Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

You can do this port de bras with one arm or two. You can do it by itself, or combine it with the plié movements.

 

Abs

1. Lie face-up on the floor, legs extended, feet pointed.

2. Pull your abs in. Lift one leg up so your toes point to the ceiling. Keep your other leg straight, toes pointed.

3. Curl your back and shoulder blade and grasp your ankle or calf with your hands. Hold for 15-30 seconds.

4. Slowly lower your leg and repeat on the other side.

Do 5 reps on each leg.

Leg Lift Front

A leg lift is called a grand battement.

1. In first position, extend one leg forward, straight in front of your hip. Toes pointed, and leg turned out so your knee faces slightly to the side.

2. Lift your leg as high as you can, keeping your supporting leg and torso straight. Hold for 10 seconds.

4. Lower your leg and slide your foot back to first position.

5. Repeat with the other leg.

Do 5 sets of 5 lifts on each leg.

 

Leg Lift Behind

In first position, extend one leg backward, right behind your hip. Toes pointed, and leg turned out so your knee faces slightly to the side.

1. Lift your leg as high as you can, keeping your supporting leg and torso straight. Do not bend forward. Hold for 10 seconds.

2. Lower your leg and slide your foot back to first position.

3. Repeat with the other leg.

Do 5 sets of 5 lifts on each leg.

 

Stretch

You’ve worked your muscled hard. Stretch out your quads, your calves, your groin, and your arms.

bolshoiballetdancers
 

*Photo: yakovlev.alexey via flickr


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