Ballet fitness keeps your body ‘en pointe’


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In honor of New York City's Dance Week celebration starting June 21, HellaWella puts the spotlight on the wonderful workout of ballet.

The dance world is dominating summer television. “So You Think You Can Dance” is returning to for its eighth season on Fox, while newcomers “Breaking Pointe” on the CW and “Bunheads”on ABC Family focus on the ballet world and are promising even more backstage drama and onstage grace. Ballet is a unique sport that has many health benefits, and you don’t have to be an expert to reap the rewards. There are options for everyone, from ballet beginners to pointe pros.

The National Registry of Dance Educators tells us that the benefits of dance range from physical to social-emotional. Ballet involves strength training and cardio to blast fat and tone from top to bottom, making it an effective, efficient workout. One hour of ballet burns over 350 calories, more than any other type of dance. Just try doing a plié and not feeling the burn.

Balance positions such as relevés keep the core and gluteal muscles engaged. Dance also increases flexibility, which keeps joints in working order, reducing the risk of injury later in life. Training the body to reinforce steps builds muscle memory, while constantly adapting dance movements to different beats and combinations fosters a sense of creativity and gives your brain a workout. The New England Journal of Medicine found that dancing is the only physical activity linked to a decline in dementia.

“Black Swan” realness
“Black Swan” is the movie that escalated ballet’s status in pop culture from trend to icon. If you want to achieve some of the grace (and those killer swan arms) of Nina Sayers without all of the crazy, Ballet Beautiful is for you! Former New York City Ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers trained Natalie Portman for the demanding role and has created a program that will help you gain the poise and strength of a dancer. Bowers offers live online classes for personalized instruction as well as streaming videos, DVDs and a book, which just came out on June 12. The New York City Ballet, featured in the film, also offers their complete workout via book and DVD.

Not ready to go full bunhead? Try a workout that combines ballet with more familiar exercise. Yoga Booty Ballet combines mat work with easy-to-follow dance routines and basic ballet movements for a fun, effective workout either in person or via DVD. Pure Yoga’s Figure 4 classes in New York incorporate barre work, yoga and free weights for complete body sculpting. Bonus: they have designed classes especially for men and offer pre- and post-natal options! Ballet Ball by Crunch Fitness utilizes the stability ball and Pilates to isolate and condition the core and promote balance. Aerobarre is a genius program that fuses ballet moves and high-energy kickboxing for an unforgettable interval training experience.

Check out these routines for a taste of ballet fitness:
•    Aerobarre
•    Ballet Beautiful

Now, who’s ready to hit the barre?