Who doesn’t want a stronger, more supple dancer’s body? Try one of the latest ballet-style workouts and it could be yours.
What is it? Inspired by the bum- and thigh-toning ballet barre exercises (think calf lifts and pliés), it’s no surprise this workout is rapidly gaining in popularity. Classes are often blended with Pilates, yoga and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for a full-body routine.
Body benefits Want longer-looking limbs? Better posture? A firm, lifted derrière? Barre class promises all three. You’ll tone up all over, strengthen your core, increase flexibility and, depending on the style of class, get a cardio workout too. You can burn an impressive 500 calories an hour. Best for Those who want the body benefits but aren’t fussed about learning to dance. Classes are beginner-friendly but hard work. Those tiny, isometric movements are very powerful.
Where do I sign up? As most classes need a room with mirrors and barres, they’re often at standalone studios rather than chains, so search online for local businesses. Or find an instructor at barreconcept.co.uk.
Try it at the gym
If you’re a member of Virgin Active try its ‘more bolshie than Bolshoi’ barre class. See virginactive.co.uk/classes/barre
Adult ballet classes
What is it? The classical ballet classes you took as a child (or wished you had), sized up for adults’ enjoyment. You may no longer have The Royal Ballet School in your sights, but there’s no reason you can’t still experience the joy of learning to pirouette and sauté (that’s jumping to regular folk!).
Body benefits Ballet is known for improving posture, building strength, coordination and flexibility. Forget the ‘good toes, naughty toes’ exercises you did when you were five, ballet can get your heart pumping – work hard and you could burn up to 600 calories per class – tone your legs, bum and muscles you didn’t even know you had! You may be a little sore for a few days after, but a lean, lithe dancer body will be yours fast.
Best for People who want to improve their skills as well as their bodies! Most schools offer structured lessons for all levels – so don’t worry if you’re more dance-floor disaster than Darcey Bussell. As you progress, you’ll move away from the barre, and learn how to do turns and jumps.
Perfect your on-Pointe online
Don’t have a barre class near you? You can now net a ballerina body online. Barrecore, one of London’s hippest studio chains (they also have a location in Manchester), offers 30 videos on their website. Either stream one video for 48 hours for £4 (good if you’re away), or pay £24.79 for one month’s unlimited access to all videos. You can also upgrade to a one-to-one, real-time class in Google Hangouts for £45. Ideal for embracing your inner prima ballerina.
What is it? A modern ballet fitness class devised by dancer Jamie Thomson. A bit like Zumba Swan Lake-style, you dance continuously through the class, learning the moves as you go. The highlight? Performing high-energy pliés, jetés and arabesques to funky pop music.
Body benefits Because you’re moving non-stop for a full hour, this is a brilliant cardio-boosting workout. But don’t worry, your bum and thighs will still get a look-in because you lift, strengthen and lengthen as you go.
Best for Beginners, especially those with two left feet! This is less about the more technical ballet steps, more about getting you moving. Jamie calls it an uplifting workout that gets you sweating – in an elegant way!
Where do I sign up? There are classes all over England and, with an instructor training programme in full swing, there are more springing up all the time. To find your nearest, visit ballestics.com.
Reap the mind benefits too
Dancing can help boost mood, creativity, confidence and self-esteem
‘I love my adult ballet class’
Avril Chaffey, 53, works in PR and lives in Berkshire. She has attended Park House Dance Studio, Newbury, since 2014. ‘When my daughters started doing ballet classes at our local dance studio I was really excited to discover they also do adult classes. They looked fun. I’d never done ballet as a child, but I just thought ‘Why not?’ I found it challenging to start with, but not impossible and I was hooked from the off! Our weekly class lasts 45 minutes, mostly at the barre, which we use for balance while practising leg-strengthening moves and arm movements. Then we move into the centre of the studio for some barrefree work – moves like pliés, sautés and changements – and it’s here where we work on a short choreographed piece. We don’t take exams, it’s purely for enjoyment. We build towards a performance at the end of each term, just for ourselves.
‘Ballet is time just for me. It’s fun but I have to concentrate, so there’s no time to dwell on anything else.
‘I also enjoy the combination of listening to music and the lovely stretch from the exercises. It’s improved my flexibility. I find myself thinking about my posture during the rest of the week, which can only be good. Since starting classes I feel stronger, more toned and generally more coordinated and graceful.