Dance is my exercise of choice since I’ve been dancing on and off since I was a child. To me, nothing can compare to stepping out of a dance technique class, all sore and wobbly, feeling tall and aligned. The technique classes that I’ve taken for Chinese dance are also based on ballet technique. I know my body responds well to ballet.
Something I’ve run into time and time again is changes after settling at a studio or with an instructor. I’ll settle into a good regime of dance classes and then life gets in the way: work gets really hectic; or the studio schedule changes. Somehow this always tends to happen right as I feel that I’m in the best shape I could be. The next thing I know, I find myself not taking classes and not working out.
This past time it happened, it took about six months until I realized I needed to work out again. So I started walking and tried some workout DVDs. But none of it made me feel the same way I felt after technique class. I thought about finding another studio, but realized the problem was the cycle of being in an out of classes and I needed to break that cycle first. I needed to find something that I could continuously do at home. I was stuck until I learned about Ballet Beautiful from this post from Adult Ballerina Project.
I’m pretty skeptical when it comes to ballet, dance, or Pilates based workout DVDs. I don’t like it when the routine is really aerobics with some dance moves, or pairing modern music with sort-of ballet. In my experience, I do not end up working the muscles I would work in technique class. To make it worse, I would feel my hamstrings tighten and feel less flexible after the workout.
I watched a few clips of Ballet Beautiful online, and liked the atmosphere it created: classical music, simple counting and cuing. The exercises looked along the lines of Pilates and ballet. I’m not a big fan of mat workouts, but I figured the atmosphere might keep me going. I went ahead and bought the first two DVDs: Total Body Workout (also called Classic 60-Minute Workout) and Body Blast (also called Blast Series).
I tried Total Body Workout first. The exercises were hard. I had to made the beginner modifications, but I could not do all the repetitions. My muscles were burning. My limbs were wobbling through the exercises. I was surprised when the workout ended since I didn’t think it had been an hour. Granted, I probably only exercised for half that time. But once I stood up, I was standing taller, my posture was better, my muscles were happy. I naturally stood with my torso pulled up and tail tucked under. I started dancing. I was happy. The workout was exactly what I needed to wake up my ballet muscles.
I was so impressed with this result that pretty much right after my first session, I completed my Ballet Beautiful collection and bought the Ballet Beautiful book and the two cardio DVDs: Cardio Fat Burn and Sculpt & Burn Cardio Blast.
A family friend I saw during the week I started Ballet Beautiful mentioned that I looked taller and was standing straighter. I see this friend almost every other week. This was only after attempting two sessions of Total Body and half of Body Blast. I knew my posture felt better, but I didn’t think people would notice.
I strongly suggest that people not familiar with ballet or Pilates buy the book. I believe the order in which items were released were: book; online videos; Total Body Workout; Body Blast; Cardio Fat Burn; Sculpt & Burn Cardio Blast. Between the book and my dance experience, I have been able to come up with standing modifications to make the workouts more like ballet class.
I found water to be super important with this workout. I drink water in between Total Body segments. And then I drink a ridiculous amount of water after a session. I’m not forcing myself to drink water – my body is just craving water. To me, it’s a good sign because it shows that I’m working out. It’s also a good sign because I always need a lot of water after technique class. It’s another sign that my body is reacting to Ballet Beautiful the same way it does to dance classes.
Ballet Beautiful is really good about guidance. There are posts on the website about the ideal rotation of the Total Body and Body Blast videos, modifications for pregnancy (also works for those trying to find low impact exercises), two programs that add the Cardio Fat Burn video, and adding the Sculpt & Blast video.
I’m really glad that I’ve finally found a workout that works my muscles the same way a dance technique class does. This is obviously not a substitution for dance classes. But, if I can keep Ballet Beautiful as my core workout, and treat studio classes as a bonus, I will finally break the cycle of relying entirely on studio classes for exercise.
If you want to give Ballet Beautiful a try, there are some clips from the DVDs from BeFiT.
Total Body Workout (all workouts except standing)
Body Blast (all workouts)
There’s also a playlist of videos exclusively from Net-A-Porter.
The new year is coming up soon – maybe Ballet Beautiful will be part of your new years resolutions?