Blog Archives

Love Your Ballet Body Series

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February is all about love so here at Ballet Strength we are doing a 14 day Love Your Ballet Body series in the two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day. Join us each day for a new workout or ballet tips. We will also be doing free product giveaways and more!

Head over to our new blog at http://www.balletstrength.com to download your Love Your Ballet Body workout calendar!

Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@balletstrength), Youtube (youtube.com/c/balletstrength), and Facebook (facebook.com/balletstrength) for the latest workout videos as we will not be posting them here!

Deadlifts for Dancers

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If you had a chance to watch any of the World Dance Day video, you saw that in addition to showing live ballet classes and rehearsals, they also showed what the dancers do to stay in shape outside of the studio. At Ballet Strength, we love that they chose to reveal dancers behind the scenes in the gym strength training. My favorite clip they showed was of National Ballet of Canada dancer, Chelsy Meiss. Pictured below is Chelsy performing an exercise called the “deadlift” from the World Dance Day broadcast. Today I am going to share with you how to do this exercise correctly so that you can maximize your Ballet Strength just like Chelsy!

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Dancer Chelsy Meiss performing deadlifts

At Ballet Strength all of our programs and DVD workouts incorporate Romanian deadlifts. Romanian deadlifts are a great way to strengthen your hamstrings and spinal erectors, the long muscles that run up and down the sides of your lower back. Our goal in using this exercise during cross training is to strengthen the core and glute/ham tie in to help take the brunt of the stress from dancing off of the ankles – helping to stay injury free. Strength and power in the upper legs will also help with jumps, balance, and turns.

Ballet Strength Deadlifts

How to do it: A.) Start with the feet hip width apart, holding a light bar or two dumbbells. Knees should be slightly bent with the weight in the heels. B.) Bend forward from the torso, sliding the bar or weights to mid-shin (do not go all the way to the floor!). Be careful that you do not bend the knees additionally and keep the weight in the heels. Do not round the back. C.) It is a good idea to even lift the toes off the ground to ensure that you form is proper with the weight in the heels. Perform 3 sets of 12 repetitions.

Any good ballet cross training program will include deadlifts such as our Sensationally Strong Jumps Program or the Power Pirouettes DVD. The dancers whom I work with in companies such as San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Boston Ballet all do this exercise too! Give it a try and take your Ballet Strength to a new level.

 

 

Ballet Warm-Up Exercise

Pennsylvania Ballet principal dancer Arantxa Ochoa warming up by Alexander Iziliaev

Pennsylvania Ballet principal dancer Arantxa Ochoa warming up by Alexander Iziliaev

Today I want to share with you one of my favorite go-to warm up exercises to do before ballet class. I like to call this exercise the “roll up.” We have spoken before about the importance of warming up versus stretching and this exercise in combination with others will do just the trick to get you feeling loose, opened up, and ready to start class!

The Roll Up – The roll up is a beginners Pilates move created to target the core but it can do much more when added to your daily ballet warm up routine. Not only does it activate the core but it also stretches the spine. A lot of dancers will do this exercise right after getting out of bed in the morning to work the kinks out and get the body moving slowly. You can even articulate the feet while doing this exercise (if you’re not wearing sneakers like I am in this video ;).

Give it a try as part of your warm-up routine before ballet class this week and feel what a difference it makes! I suggest 10-15 roll-ups at a time and don’t rush through it – go nice and slow focusing on rolling through the spine. Your body will thank you for it!

 

 

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?

Ballet Cross Training

I had a chance this morning to bring the video camera into my workout session. I wanted to show my loyal blog followers the type of workout that I do in the off-season to keep my body lean and toned. It is sometimes hard for Professional Dancers to get into the studio over the summer because there are no classes available and/or they cannot afford to pay for them. (Yes, these days most studios are even charging professionals to take class!) If you are not lucky enough to have a studio near you offering free classes, you definitely need to look into the things you can do in the comfort of your own home! I happen to be lucky enough to have an oversized 3 car garage and a ballet barre, so I am able to give myself class at home.

A lot of the exercises I do in the video, mainly the plie jump squat, work on specific weaknesses that I need to target. The plie jump squats help improve my spring in jumps both in ballet class and on stage. I also make sure to add a 10 lb kettlebell to the equation so that I feel lighter when I perform the same movement in ballet class.

I will be making more of these videos in the near future and will be releasing instructional videos too! Stay tuned and please, bookmark this page.

Best in Health,

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

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