ennifer Kries’ New Body! Ballet has three workouts on one disc. It is a bit disappointing that the exercises are exactly the same in each program, although the extension and lift of the exerciser’s limbs becomes progressively more challenging. The routine does raise the heart rate, and a user will have to be in fairly good shape not to get out of breath. The next day, muscles you had no idea you possessed will definitely make their presence known. The exercises are done with such fluidity and grace that balance and strength will rapidly improve, and are designed to make the user feel she is actually dancing. Kries provides a good explanation of how the arms should be held during practice.
New York City Ballet the Complete Workout 1 and 2 is now sold as a box set; it is probably the gold standard for a great ballet workout. The only drawback is that little time is spent explaining how to do each individual step correctly. However, a video glossary does explain many of the moves in a separate section of the DVD. The many segments can be played one at a time, so as not to overdo it. Workout 2 also has a “quick fix” routine to save time. All of the barre work is done lying supine on the floor, which is terrific for a beginner. At the end of Workout 2, the exerciser may dance along with the NYC Corps; this is a lot of fun, but the little jumps required may be too hard on the knees for some people.
Denise Austin Body Makeover, Lower Body Section, is heavy on attitudes, releves, and arabesque positions. This DVD is a great place to start, because Denise is as always very motivating; and she does not turn out the feet past a very slight outward angle. The other segments of the DVD are Abs and Arms, with standard exercises. The Abs section does incorporate some Pilates.
Ballet Class for Beginners with David Howard is narrated by the teacher of such stellar performers as Gelsey Kirkland. Although he does explain each step, he gives few tips on how to perform them safely or correctly. This is not really a good workout, because the exercises are often demonstrated on demonstrated on only one side of the body and are done too quickly for the average viewer to understand. By the end center work sequences, the combinations are much too advanced for an amateur to follow. Use this only to supplement a ballet class or to learn the vocabulary of the dance.
Cardio Barre Series comes in Basic and Ultimate Advanced levels, sold separately. A Cardio Barre book stressing nutrition and technique is also available separately. Cardio Barre is designed to proved both aerobic and toning benefits and it is faster paced than most ballet workouts. The Basic level is pretty difficult, and the Ultimate Advanced should be saved until the Basic is mastered.
Jennifer Galardi’s Ballet Body Workout is structured for intermediate or advanced exercisers. It contains both standing and floor exercises, and utilizes both Pilates and barre work done on the floor. This DVD was not personally reviewed by me, but is called “doable, effective, and fun” and rated intermediate/advanced in the Collage Video’s Guide to Exercise Videos catalog.
Cohan, Robert, The Dance Workshop, Simon & Schuster, 1986.
Collage Video’s Guide to Exercise Videos, p. 15.
Kent, Allegra, The Dancer’s Body Book, Quill New York, William Morrow & Co., 1984.