From prima ballerinas to hip-hop pros, there’s no denying the beauty and grace of a dancer. But behind that elegance lies a lot of control, strength, discipline and hard work, so it’s no wonder that dance-inspired fitness classes are being introduced in gyms around the country.
One of the most popular of these is the barre workout, an exercise regimen based on the principles of ballet which promises to improve flexibility and balance, as well as help you develop long, lean muscles without bulk. Sounds good, right? We think so, which is why so we turned to 74-year-old dance doyenne Adele Blank for her five tips on how to fast-track your barre workout to get a dancer’s physique. Ready, set, pirouette!
1 As the name suggests, barre workouts revolve around the traditional ballet barre, and the key to getting the most out of this exercise is extension. When you’re standing at the barre, lengthen your body by extending your spine upwards from the pelvic floor through the central core into the mid-back. Imagine that you’re a puppet, with a cord running through your centre that’s anchored to the ceiling above your head.
2 When walking or standing upright at the barre, concentrate on your posture, namely your shoulder blades. They should be lying downwards against your back and rotated outwards so that the energy reaches the ends of your arms and through to your fingertips.
3 Connectivity is all important for a dancer, so engage your entire body, starting with the core and emanating out towards your limbs.
4 A simple trick to help you with your stance is to visualise that your arms are a frame and that you are a picture within them.
5 Nobody can exercise on an empty stomach, so you need to fuel your body to keep your energy levels up. I stick to a mainly vegetarian diet that includes fresh greens, grilled or roasted vegetables, wholegrains, fish and white cheese. Apples and dried fruit have a high sugar content, which helps with energy, and I love homemade popcorn with olive oil and Himalayan salt. Just remember to balance this with lots of protein to prevent your blood-sugar levels from crashing.