We all admire ballerinas from a far, after all they are beautiful creatures with perfect physic,elegance and poise but let’s be honest, how many of us, apart from the talent, would be able to dedicate our life to this art and spend hours every day at the barre, exercising and working on perfecting every move?
I always had a romantic notion of ballet and not until I attended one of the classes that my uncle taught, did I actually understand how hard the dancer has to work to dance on stage. Add to that the competition, the physical demands and the injuries that plague many dancers…..
Never having had the inclination to join the ballet, I remain fascinated by this art form and did try the New York ballet workout a while back, but it didn’t inspire me and I moved on to something else. However recently the world of ballet came back into the spotlight due to an Oscar nominated movie Black Swan that has won lots of awards around the world. By a happy coincidence a new DVD is shortly due to be released that will help you achieve a more lean physic while doing a beautiful ballet inspired workout that won’t live you intimidated but even the warm up will make you perspire.
Andrea Rogers is a professional dancer and Pilates instructor who created an Xtend Barre workoutin 2007. Her method blends pilates (which in Andrea’s words ‘sculpts the body’ and ballet thus ‘Xtend barre workout will chisel your body’).
Andrea herself looks a little like a combination of Kim Raver, who plays one of the doctors in Grey’s Anatomy and a pretty Barbie in human form (well, she was one of principle dancers for Walt Disney World). She has a genuine smile and her instructions are fun and precises, not regimented.
The tape is divided into sections: an Introduction, a Tutorial (in which Andrea covers dancers terminology and gets you a little acquainted with the poses, which is helpful if you haven’t taken dancing lessons before) and Workout sections.
Now, let me tell you, I have done different workouts before but this one is really different in the sense that it’s light in the feeling that it gives you but it does work your body. Your core muscles will tingle and be hurting a bit the next day-always a positive sign that you are on the way to become fitter.
The whole workout takes 55 minutes but you can break it up, depending on how busy you are. The Warm up is six minutes long but mid way I was perspiring and believe me, I am not lightweight .) Then you can go to Upper Body (this section takes 11 minutes and I love how Andrea says ‘proud chest’-well, why not, especially after you do the push-ups with criss cross legs-definitely gives a regular push up a very effective twist), Barre (you work for 23 minutes using the chair instead of the ballet class barre concentrating on all parts of your body), the Core (my favourite, takes only ten minutes but works your core from several angles, especially the abdominal twist at the end) and finally a Cool down session that lasts five minutes.
You have to push yourself, as Andrea tells you a few times over the course of the workout but she also reinforces the point that you need to workout safely.
I have done Xtend Barre for a couple of weeks so far but can definitely say that I hold myself a little taller-yes, the proud chest is indeed prouder than it was before-and my body seems fitter all over. And if I am completely honest, I love the feeling of being graceful that it gives me!
The Xtend Barre Ballet Workout is released by Acacia on April 4th and costs £15.99