Adult ballet classes and ballet DVD workouts have gradually entered the exercise mainstream, proving both beneficial and fun. Because ballet technique and muscle control are subject to constant improvement, ballet exercises provide continuous challenge to a practitioner, alleviating boredom and the common temptation to “slack off” a workout schedule.
Barre Exercises and Center Practice
Barre exercises may be done at home or in a class. If performed at home, the exerciser may simply use the back of a sturdy chair for support.
Amateur barre work may be done from first or second position, with the toes rotated outwards from the body. Professional dancers use a turnout of 180 degrees, but the non-professional should only turn out to a comfortable position. Alternatively, the feet may remain in normal position in order to avoid any strain on knees or Achilles tendons.
There is never any reason for an adult exerciser to attempt pointe work (where the dancer balances on the tips of the toes); leave it to the professionals who have trained since they were children. Positions beyond first or second are also usually too difficult for the amateur to master.
When the exercises at the barre are completed, center work repeats them without any hand support. This process will improve balance and gracefulness. Make sure the exercise area is spacious enough to accommodate the movements required.
Plies (bending at the knee) and releves (rising on the balls of the foot) are a good way to begin. More complicated moves should be learned gradually.
Review of Ballet Exercise DVDs
Those individuals new to working out, or with balance, knee, hip, or other physical problems should get a physical and perhaps take a few classes before using a ballet DVD.
Element Ballet Conditioning with Elise Gulan is almost an hour long, but can be practiced in segments. It contains almost all barre work; time is spent on explaining each movement. At the end, there is a considerably aerobic “little jumps” section and some excellent core-strengthening Pilates floor work. Good for intermediate exercisers; beginners should not attempt the entire workout right away.