BalletFitness

First of all, a huge thank you to everyone who voted for me in the Face of Human Tested competition. While first place went to the very deserving Kristy, the top five finalists were asked to participate in the promotional photo shoot with the amazing photographer, Nelli Scarlet, and that includes me! I love Nelli’s work as a photographer and singer and it’s a little known fact we actually went to secondary/technical college together. Plus she’s on the campaign for animal rights and lives a plant-based life too!

Have you jumped on the Ballet-inspired fitness trend?

Even before Black Swan came out, the fitness world had started to embrace more traditional dance-based fitness classes, moving away from the Aerobics and choreographed group classes. Even the classes that dancers use to condition their own bodies, such as Pilates and Reformer, were becoming more popular due to the lean, long muscle shapes that develop. Ballet has been around since the 15th century but started to become popular for recreation in the 1920s. Many young girls who start classes with the dream of becoming a Ballerina, continue to take classes more casually as as a form of fitness and to maintain good posture.

Miranda Kerr works out with Ballet Barre Fitness 

During ballet classes, there is not necessarily a choreographed dance portion, but most often a series of conditioning exercises, using the Barre (a beam about waist height usually installed alongside a mirror but can also be freestanding), or away from the Barre using balance only. Ballet-inspired workout classes use the barre as a prop for bodyweight isometric moves, holding positions like pliés (similar to squats) for a minute or more to work both leg and stabilising muscles.

Barre classes tend to have mainly women due to the association with the ballerina body and traditional image of a female dancer. Ballet dancers are well toned but due to the requirements of the dance style and tradition, don’t tend to have large muscle mass, which is an attractive model for women.

The benefits of ballet for the body

In barre-stye classes the standing exercises and floor mat work means that your core is constantly engaged. Using your body weight for isometric exercises—and a long range of motion—means that you develop strength while maintaining flexibility, and sculpting longer, leaner muscles.

healthypartygirl.com - Vito, Queensland BalletBallet not only improves agility and flexibility, but it’s great for balance—profesional sports players, especially those in ball sports like soccer—have used ballet and Pilates for dexterity and balance training as well as rehabilitation.

I talked my boyfriend into letting me put a picture of him without a shirt on the internet for your viewing pleasure to illustrate my point. Not that I can remember what that was now…

Oh yes, if you’ve ever watched The Royal Ballet or The Bolshoi Ballet perform, even on TV, or seen any ballet movies like Centre Stage and, more recently Black Swan, you’d know that dancers are very lean but have amazing arms; strong, lean legs; toned abs and ridiculously good posture. Apart from the fact that the female dancers are unsustainably lean on a regular diet and exercise schedule, they have an enviable body shape. I most admire the muscles in the back and arms, but legs are definitely up there. The guys often do little gym work to support their dance schedule, instead their primary upper body workout is lifting those girls as they dance, and those jumps are squats on steroids! Not that you can see it in this photo but one of my favourite parts of my boyfriend’s body (aside from facial features etc pf course!) are his strong, powerful legs. I’ve tested their strength by “forcing” him to piggy back me up several flights of stairs after a few wines and he could do it with ease and barely a shortening of breath. These professionals are super-fit!

Since the early 19th century, Western society has adopted a negative view of male ballet dancers, or danseurs. Danseurs are stereotyped as weak, effeminate or homosexual. In a 2003 sociological study, male ballet dancers reported several stereotypes they had been confronted with including “feminine, homosexual, wimp, spoiled, gay, dainty, fragile, weak, fluffy, woosy, prissy, artsy and sissy”. — (Fisher & Shay, 2007)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think my man looks fragile, weak, or dainty in any way, shape or form. He’s over six foot tall and is covered in lots of functional muscle mass, it’s not exactly what I would call scrawny! The young women he dances with may look delicate from the seats in the theatre but up close they are mostly lean muscle also, and they need to be. Not to mention that posture, which immediately makes one seem taller and more confident anyway.

The easiest way to get that amazing posture and core strength is to think of your posture and engage your abs and glutes while you’re doing dishes, brushing your teeth or preparing food. But most of all, be aware of your body. See your body and what it’s doing. The more aware you are, the stronger your core—and better your posture—will become.

Do you want a Ballet body?

In Australia, there are many different Ballet companies and dance studios that cater for casual public classes and fitness centres that offer fusion classes or even adult ballet. Search the internet for centres in your local area using ‘ballet’ and ‘fitness’.
If you’re looking for Barre specifically, try one of these studios;

My favourites are Xtend Barre for a higher intensity class that uses upbeat music and makes you sweat and Barre Body for the perfect yoga-Pilates-Barre fusion inside the amazing tranquil surroundings of Endota Spa.
Also try Barre Attack, The Booty Barre or BarreCode (Tas), or try one of these DVDs for a workout in-house!
healthypartygirl.com - xtend barre dvdhealthypartygirl.com - purebarre dvd      healthypartygirl.com - BarreBody DVD

Expect to work in classes like this though, always think “a little lower” than you are already. Not kidding! In classes, whether it’s pole dancing, barre or yoga, I always try and push myself a little bit further until I’m just over the line into agony and that’s when the instructors always say “now pulse” and my legs start shaking… but that’s where the magic happens! I always get asked if I am either a dancer or a swimmer and I don’t consider my background being that heavily dance-oriented, so a bit of maintenance does pay off.

Dancers really are otherworldly sometimes, with their flexibility, grace and storytelling ability, let alone the feats of balance, agility and strength. Just for fun, check out this behind-the-scenes video of QB’s Giselle regional tour, and you’ll see a couple of extra cameos from my boy too, heehee.

Have you been to an Adult Ballet, Barre class, Yoga/Ballet Fusion or maybe even a Pilates Reformer class before?
Leave a comment and tell me about your experience!

References

Fisher J, Anthony S (Eds), When Men Dance: Choreographing Masculinities Across Borders, 2009, Oxford University Press.

Fisher J, Make It Maverick: Rethinking the “Make It Macho” Strategy for Men in Ballet, 2007, Dance Chronicle,30:45-66.

Fit bag

I’ve almost finished my Certificate IV in Fitness, I only have one more Sunday class after this weekend and then it’s work placement time. Since I’ve been studying, I’ve had fitness on my mind a lot, and I’ve been looking at what I want to do after I finish my course.
I’ve really loved everything I’ve learned, even if I haven’t had it applied to my life and my own training just yet. I adore helping people, training them to achieve their goals, educating them on fitness & health and finding ways to enjoy being active. I’m not really an early morning, outside in the park kind of person but I’m definitely up for educating businesses, schools, organizations and other groups about the importance of exercise. I love the idea of working with kids and getting them excited about moving!
There are so many different options and I need to choose my work placement location but can’t decide what I would like to do the most? Start in a gym or branch out to something more specific? Look into Group Exercise qualifications or wait and see where I end up?
There are so many options! Plus I’m still passionate about public health/nutrition/health marketing so I would really love to tie it all together.
While I think on it, here’s a video from Emma of Barre Body, where I trialled a class a few months ago. The class times didn’t suit me then but I’m trying to make some time to drop by again. In the meantime, try these exercises at home with me!


Barre Body - Get a dancers body at home!

Surprise! Guess who? I was up early this morning and committed to making time for a post. Things have been pretty hectic in HPG-land but I thrive when my life is busy and I feel on top of things at the moment so we’re back! I’m still working on a major blog overhaul which includes moving to self-hosting (when my tech-head Mum sorts out my server space for me) and custom template and all that stuff. But for now, what has been happening…?

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Barre Body studio, Flinders Lane

This morning I got up at 6am (okay, I snoozed until 6:20am) and dragged myself into the city for a Barre Moves class at the recently opened Barre Body studio. It is located inside the gorgeous Endota Spa and smells just amazing. Note to self: book in for a massage next time I’m in for class. The class was a combination of traditional Ballet barre exercises think demi & grande pliés in first and second position – and flowing yoga. It may haver been the humid morning but I definitely worked up a sweat, especially with my DOMS from Pole Power/Advanced Pole on Monday night. Even after assisted stretching and a massage, my legs and abs are still recovering. I noticed a few celebrities being spotted at Barre classes and thought I’d give it a try. I will definitely be going as often as I can get myself out of bed that early!

Pole Divas stand at FitX

Last weekend the FitX Sports & Fitness Expo was on and Pole Divas had a stand. I was there “manning the booth” on Saturday and we had two instructors doing demonstrations like the lovely Giada pictured. We also ran the FitX Pole Power Championship which was a real test of strength amongst all the pole dancers competing. Two of our instructors came first and second place which was great! The competition was pretty tough, there are definitely some really strong women in this sport. I didn’t get much of a chance to see the rest of the Expo but I did get to meet Amanda from Me vs the Bulge! I could see a bit of the strongman competition from the stand and it was pretty crazy, the guys were lifting and carrying hundreds of kilos and it was very impressive!

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My life right now

So yes, I have been very busy. I’m taking four subjects at Uni this semester and it’s halfway through week 3 and so far I have managed to stay on top of everything. It’s been hard as I’ve only received one textbook and two study guides but since I don’t drive I can read on public transport which is awesome. My life has pretty much consisted of working, studying, trying to fit in Pole classes (and now Barre and maybe a few runs) and not a lot else! I have moved house, been to a couple of exciting things like Soundwave and a couple of the side shows,  had an amazing Vegan degustation at Ezard which I may write on later – I didn’t take any pictures because I just wanted to enjoy the whole experience, and written a few things like reviews and a series on Pole Dancing & Aerial Hoop over at Viva La Vegan!

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City of Melbourne’s Food Policy Discussion Paper

In my “spare time”,  I’ve been trying to keep up with my personal interests including reading The China Study, my local council’s Food Policy Discussion Paper – which I have been taking notes and answering questions about, in order to provide a detailed response to how I think our food policy should be developed. It’s so interesting! Never thought I’d get into policy but then again I never thought I’d get into Economics which I’m taking this semester, and I have.

Yes, I’m very busy but I am happy and that’s the best part! For more regular updates, please make sure you follow me on Twitter & Instagram@healthypartygrl.

Barre Body – 69-71 Flinders Lane, Melbourne – http://www.barrebody.com.au

The China Study – http://www.thechinastudy.com

City of Melbourne Food Policy Discussion - http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/CommunityServices/Health/FoodPolicy/Pages/FoodPolicy.aspx