A dancer’s body is strong, toned, and ready to take on any challenge. While you may not be a candidate for the New York City Ballet, you can still reap the benefits of tackling the awesome discipline of ballet.
To begin with, ballet posture is a perfect posture. The goal is perfect alignment which makes you look and feel your best. Picture your body all lined up with your shoulders resting on top of your straight spine, belly button to your backbone, shoulders over hips, hips over knees, knees over feet. Think of pulling up from the top of your head,
In trying ballet, you will locate and strengthen muscles you never knew you had! You will carry yourself just a little taller and straighter and you‘ll find yourself dancing through life’s complexities! Poise and beauty will surround you as you exude confidence in your daily life.
Ballet Moves for Fitness
I’d like to introduce you to a few basic movements; and I would like to hear how they are helping you. If you need to, support yourself with the back of a chair or counter; balance is a must for these exercises. With your perfect ballet posture, put your heels together as you slightly turn out your legs from your hips and try these moves:
1. Demi plie (half bend) –Bend your knees as far as you can, keeping your heels on the floor. Be sure that your knees go over your toes and that your body remains perfectly straight. This movement works your quads, glutes, hamstrings, ankles, and feet. Do 8 reps, rest 30 seconds, and do 8 more
2. Grand plie (large bend) – Go into your demi plie (#1 above) and then continue by letting your heels come off the floor. Notice I said let them come off the floor; do not make them come off the floor. Continue all the way down until you are in a sitting position over your ankles. Straighten back up, putting the heels on the floor as soon as you can and then continue to straighten the knees. Plie is a bend of the knees – nothing else, not forward or back, just knees! Do 4 slowly, rest 30 seconds, repeat 4 more times. Watch your glutes, quads and calves take on beautiful form and shape!
3. Releve (rise) –Rise on to the balls of your feet and slowly back down to starting position. Do 16 times; rest for 30 seconds; repeat 16 more times. Releves give you beautifully sculpted calves and strong feet and ankles.
4. Combere (Stretch) to the front and back –With one arm holding on to a chair raise the other one over your head. Stretch forward and down to the floor with straight knees, straighten and stretch to the back, being sure to bend from the waist. Nothing below the waist should move! This move does wonders for your abs and core. Do 4 times, rest 30 seconds and do 4 more.
5. Arabesque (lovely position) – A little more advanced because it involves standing on one leg; arabesque is one of the best things you can do for your derriere. Tone, shape, and lift it! Point your foot to the back behind your shoulder and lift the leg as high as you can. Be sure you do not twist in the hips or shoulders. Do 8 slow lifts with your right leg, 8 with your left leg, and repeat 8 times with each leg
If you can practice all 5 of these 3 times a week for 3 weeks, you should start to see some nice results. I am interested in hearing how these ballet moves have helped you! Be sure to do some cardio and strength training as well to look and feel your best.
***Before beginning any exercise program, seek the advice of your health care provider. For more information about ballet for fitness, contact Donna Martelli.
Photos Plie, Releve, and Arabesque by F. Morris; Grand Plie by Treva Bedinghaus.