If you’d love to be a ballerina but fear you’d be out of place, think again!
Whether you donned tutu and tights as a child or you’ve never done a plié in your life, adult ballet is for you! It’s a fast-growing trend and for good reason – it ticks all the boxes by boosting cardio fitness, strength and flexibility, plus it’s weight-bearing so it helps to build muscles and bones.
There are now a huge number of ballet-inspired fitness classes which use these principles to help you get fit and achieve the long, lean ballerina physique – these are usually named along the lines of barrecore or barrefit.
But you can also realise those childhood dreams of becoming a ballet dancer by taking classical ballet lessons. Dance studios and ballet schools across the UK offer classes from total beginners up to advanced and you can even work up to using pointe shoes.
These classes are not just for slender sylphs with dance talent – anybody of any age, shape or fitness is welcome and you’ll be encouraged to simply work within your own capabilities. And the joy of adult ballet lessons is that they’re more about fitness and learning a new skill, rather than competing to get into the Royal Ballet School. Check out the benefits here…
Most classes will start at the barre (the wooden rail attached to the wall of a studio, used for balance) with warm-up exercises. The barre – and exercises you do around it – promotes flexibility and, combined with the dancing, helps to strengthen your legs, ankles and feet as they take the weight of your body in different positions.
Benefits the brain
Ballet improves co-ordination and balance, and gives your brain a great workout as you learn the routines. It also relieves stress as you follow the rhythm of the relaxing music and become absorbed in the movement.
That’s how much you can burn off in a one-hour session! So don’t be fooled by the delicate grace of ballet – it’s an incredible workout and classes will help you develop the strength, flexibility and cardio fitness required to make it look effortless.
Along with your core and postural muscles you’ll also learn to elongate the spine. This increase in awareness of how you hold your body can change the way you move in daily life: watch ballet dancers walk down the street and you’ll notice how they hold themselves tall and move with grace.
You can try it at home
The Royal Ballet has recently launched a series of ballet fitness YouTube videos. Visit youtube.com and search for Royal Ballet Fit. Or try Sleek Technique, online ballet fitness classes where you can either follow recordings or join in interactive live classes where the teacher can see you via the camera on your computer.