The marriage of ballet and fitness provides challenging exercises with amazing results both physically and mentally. Adding dance to your fitness routine can increase balance, strength, flexibility, endurance, grace, mobility and body awareness, as well as improved posture.
The multi-tasking achieved when you add dance to fitness is at a much higher level than other fitness activities and challenges your brain to memorize movements and patterns.
Another added benefit of dance is the music! Not only does it make working out that much more fun, but it adds energy, motivation and a challenge to use or develop musicality.
Put on your favourite playlist to maximize the benefits and enjoyment of these exercises! Let’s dance!
PLIÉ ON RISE
Find Ballet 2nd position on a rise, heels slightly wider than hips. This is a turned-out position. Activate rotator muscles and remember that rotation comes from within the hip socket. Imagine your legs are like barbershop poles, actively rotating outward. Outside arm is in 5th position. The arm is slightly in front of the body with shoulders down.
Plié in 2nd position on a rise or simply bend the knees. Maintain the turnout throughout the movement, think knees back, bum in. Knees should be lined up over the middle toe, shoulders stacked on hips, core active.
Complete this movement slowly 8 times. Option: add 8 pulses at the bottom of the plié and a hold for 8 counts. Repeat this sequence 3 times.
Pro Tip: This exercise is a whole-body exercise and will help to build a strong core, legs, pelvic floor, ankles, feet and more. Find a song that encourages steady, mindful movements, and don’t forget to breathe.
OBLIQUE CRUNCH AT THE BARRE
Standing at the barre, place weight on the supporting leg (leg closest to the barre). Extend outside leg to 2nd position, finding your own turnout. The rotation comes from within the hip socket. Ensure the inside of the heel is visible from the front. Outside arm reaches overhead toward the barre in 5th position.
Activate your oblique muscles to bring knee and elbow to touch (or as close as possible). Return to starting position with control.
Complete this movement slowly and fully 16 times.
Pro Tip: Focus on posture and not sinking in the supporting hip. Option: add a 3 lb. weight and ankle weights.
COUP DE PIED TO ARABESQUE THROW
Face the barre or chair, bend the supporting leg and place the working leg just below the calf in a coup de pied position. Knee is reaching back as heel presses forward to avoid sickling (supination or inward curving of) the foot. Arms are in ballet 1st with elbows lifted and back muscles engaged.
Extend the working leg as high as possible while pporting leg. Hold barre for support. Return to starting position, using the core to find the position with precision.
Complete this movement at a vigorous tempo 16 times.
Pro Tip: To assist with balance, hands can remain on the barre in both positions. There is a coordination element in knowing when the leg is bent or straight. When the working leg is bent, the supporting leg is straight and vice versa. Brain gym!
FIFTH POSITION INNER THIGH MAT
Begin lying on your back, legs extended toward the ceiling, feet stacked directly on top on the hips. Find Ballet 5th position by crossing the legs. The legs are in a turned-out position, rotation from the hip sockets. Point the feet and think of energy out of the toes.
Open the legs as wide as possible, trying to keep the legs straight. Flex the feet when bringing the legs back to starting position and point the feet again.
Pro Tip: If this is a challenging position, elevate the hips by placing hands under glutes or folding a mat to prop the hips up. This creates additional space for the hamstrings.
Photography by Graham Mckerrell
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