A few of our most popular fitness tutorials have been Mary’s Beginner Ballet Leg Routine and Intermediate Routine. If you have been doing them at home, you know how fun and effective they are in toning your entire body, especially your lower body. Not only that, ballet workouts lengthen your line, from the top of your head to your toes. The feeling of gracefulness and strength that comes from ballet is so amazing, and you don’t have to be a former ballerina to reap the benefits!
These movements are some of the basic foundations of ballet (think vocabulary). While they are a bit more advanced than the ones shown in beginner and intermediate routines, they build from the same movements and ranges–all the while targeting your hips, your butt and the tops of your legs, inner thighs, and calves. The most important thing to remember is to keep lengthening throughout: chin is lightly lifted, neck elongated, shoulder blades slide down and back, and your whole spine is lifted from your pelvis. Engage your core by knitting your ribs together (this means you’re not “sucking in” and pushing out your rib cage, but pulling everything in together). If you need additional support, lightly place one hand on a barre, a chair, or the kitchen counter.
1. Grand plié
Start in 1st position, heels together and toes pointing out. Tuck in your tailbone underneath your spine and come onto a demi plié by bending your knees. Keep your spine straight and lower down for a grand plie, then with control come back to standing. Do 16 reps.
Start from fourth position, with your right foot turned out and about 2 feet in front of your left foot. Come into a demi plié; with a spring-like motion, pick up your right foot into a passé while coming up onto the balls of your left foot. With control, come down into a demi plié with your right foot at the back this time. Continue “passing” your right foot this way, front to back, for 16 reps. Switch sides and do the same with your left foot.
3. Tendu arabesque
Start in first position with both feet turned out, then brush your foot back into a tendu directly behind you. Engage your core to stabilize, then lift the back leg with control into an arabesque. Come down into a tendu, then repeat for 16 reps. Switch sides.
Frappé means to strike, so this move is when you strike the floor with the ball of your flexed foot. As your foot travels out to an arabesque you point the foot; this action engages the muscles right where your bottom meets the tops of your legs (meaning, really great butt lifting!).
Start from first position. Plié and simultaneously lift one foot, flex it and bring the heel to the back ankle of your supporting leg. Strike the floor with the ball of your foot as it glides out into an arabesque, both knees straightening at the same time. Return to position 1; repeat for 16 reps, then switch sides.
I’m also teaching Ballet Sculpt (Mat) class at Bellavita in Chelsea (Fridays 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.). If you are in NYC, join me for this awesome workout!
Also see: Ballet Upper Body Routine
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling