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Improving Your Fitness and Wellness With Ballet Exercises

written by: Sylvie Colette • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 7/19/2010

A ballet workout requires focused effort. Practicing these exercises will improve your posture, tone, and overall strength if done consistently. The graceful moves are a nice change of pace from other workouts and deliver excellent results.

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    Strength and Balance

    This series of four ballet exercises specifically chosen to improve strength and balance are meant to be done in order. Use a counter top, chair, or barre to support yourself if necessary. It is important to maintain proper form in order to see results from these body weight exercises.

    Plies are a staple of ballet exercises. Begin by standing in first position, heels together, toes pointed out. While keeping your back straight and stomach pulled in, bend your knees. Do not allow your heels to come off the ground. Tightly squeeze the muscles in your legs and then slowly return to first ballet position. Hold onto a chair or the back of a couch for balance if necessary.

    Releve exercises are ballet raises that will strengthen the muscles in your legs and feet while helping you gain balance. Stand straight in first position with your abdominals engaged. Lift or roll up on the balls of your feet, hold for a count of 10, and then return to first position.

    Battement exercises also begin with proper posture and will work your abdominal muscles as well as the large muscles in your legs. Stand on one leg, with the toe pointed forward. Rest the other leg at an angle with the heel touching the toe of the supporting foot. Engage the muscles in your leg and core and then lift and lower the angled leg in a controlled fashion 10-25 times. Switch legs.

    Ronde de Jambe is a ballet exercise that involves circling the leg. Continue from the battement exercises and extend one leg forward. Allow the toe to touch the ground. Trace a half circle with your toe from the front of the body around the side and then the back. Retrace the same area and then do the same with the opposite leg. Maintain a tight core throughout this ballet exercise in order to improve your balance and overall strength.

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    Ballet Exercise DVD's

    Practicing ballet exercises for general fitness can include popping in an exercise DVD occasionally to check proper form and give yourself encouragement and direction. Several companies have come out with exercise tapes that highlight ballet moves. Some of the better ones include:

    The New York City Ballet Workout has a highly sophisticated look and is directed by Peter Martins, New York City Ballet master in chief. Sarah Jessica Parker provides the introduction and the dancers featured are actual ballerinas. This workout assumes a basic understanding of ballet terminology, but it can be followed along by those without a dancer’s background. Inspiring, this hour long workout to classical music works on strengthening your muscles, improving flexibility, and mastering balance.

    Ballet Boot Camp is a similar format, but much more down-to-earth. The workout takes place in a dance studio with the instructor going over the movements with her class. The instructions and images are easy to follow along to as well.

    Yoga Booty Ballet is a quite a bit different than a regular ballet class. It combines ballet, yoga and pilates moves in a seamless fashion, giving you a high energy workout that is very effective and fun.

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    Resources

    New York City Ballet Workout - http://www.palmpictures.com/film/new-york-city-ballet-the-complete-workout.php

    Ballet Boot Camp - http://www.balletbootcamp.com/bbc1.htm

    Yoga Booty Ballet - http://www.beachbody.com/product/fitness_programs/yoga_booty_ballet.do?code=YOGABOOTYDOTCOM