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Trendy Barre Workouts: Giving Ballet a Bad Name?

Is it just me or does it seem like there is a new trendy ballet “barre” inspired workout popping up every day?

When you hear the word “barre” you think ballet. When I first heard about these “barre” workouts I have to say that I was very intrigued. I was even approached by a company here in San Diego to become an instructor since they had read about my background as a professional ballet dancer and fitness expert. Having professional experience in both, I figured I would give it a try. So I went to a few classes.

I assumed that the workout I would be getting would be similar to a ballet barre…Boy did I assume wrong. Don’t let the names fool you, these classes are NOTHING like ballet barre. In fact, they are quite the opposite.

The workouts I got were great, don’t get me wrong here. Just nothing like I had expected going into the class. Most of the exercises that we did involved a forced arch plie on demi pointe which in my experience as both a dancer and fitness expert only promote bulky thighs (which the instructors definitely had! Yikes!) if they are performed over a long period of time. My quadriceps were definitely fired up as I left the class having felt like I did a spin class.

Now please don’t think I’m hating, but as a well experienced professional ballet dancer and personal trainer I am bit critical of the exercise techniques that are using ballet terms to market their products. In fact, I promote a ballet inspired workout to my San Diego personal training clients called Ballet Body Boot Camp© so I am just as much at fault…But the difference is that I use real ballet exercises and I’m a ballet dancer so there’s no false advertising there.

I had a chance to speak with some of the other class participants and it was clear that they were under the impression that they were doing ballet exercises in the class. This is where I have a hard time because I feel that the integrity and interpretation of ballet training is being misrepresented.

Also, please don’t think that I am speaking on behalf of every “barre” method. This review is from two different methods that I tried here in San Diego. Honestly, there are so many out there these days that it would be impossible to review them all. Here is how I sum up my “barre” workout experiences.

Plus: These types of workouts are getting Women to workout and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Minus: They may be using false advertisement, thus compromising the integrity of ballet.

Bottom line: If you want the best “barre” workout take an adult beginner ballet class.

Dancers or former dancer, Have you tried any of the “barre” inspired workouts? If so, what is your take?

Cross Training for Ballet Strength

Improve your technique by cross training.

As Summer approaches, many Dancers will embrace a much needed three or four month layoff. Some will vacation, some will continue to obsessively take class day after day. The smart Dancer Cross Trains. To continue Dancing with the intensity you had during the season is like beating a dead horse. Our bodies need time off in order to make important gains and improvements. Yes, you can actually improve by taking some time off!

Here is the Cross Training Plan that I recommend;

Right after the Performance Season is over, take at least 2 weeks off! Upon returning to class, this will give you a clear signal as to what “pains” are actual injuries and which were just symptoms of overuse. During that first class back (typically after a 2 to 6 week break) take note of certain areas and muscle groups in the body that feel weak. If you feel that you have a serious injury this is a great time to see a Doctor, get an MRI, and get it fixed in time for the season to start.

After taking note of those weak areas, consult a Ballet Strength Expert such as myself for Dance Specific exercises that you can do in the gym.  On Ballet Dancers, for example, the “turn-in” or legs in a parallel stance is usually weak. I would then recommend some basic strength training techniques involving one-leg squats and exercises on the Bosu. Dancers also tend to favor one side of the body. This is a great time to strengthen your weak side!

As far as taking class goes, I recommend no more than 3 days per week during your time off.  The other 2 days should be dedicated to your Cross Training program!

Feeling out of breath during that variation? Don’t forget about cardio. What better time than Summer to go for a run, hike, or bike ride in your favorite park. You may be surprised at how much better you feel and how much more you are able to do pain free!

How do I Cross Train? To ensure that my trouble areas stay injury free, I take class only twice per week during the off season and weight train three times per week. I also focus on keeping my core strong with lots of unique abdominal exercises. For Cardio, I do chasse’s on the treadmill, front and side!

Still confused? I have taken all of the guess work out of it with my new book, Beginning Ballet Strength©. You can get your own copy at www.balletstrength.com!

Happy Dancing,

Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer/ Certified Personal Trainer/ Author/ Certified Nutritionist