What do you get when you combine sexy long dancer legs and the holiday season? The Radio City Rockettes of course! The Rockettes are American icons that have been performing out of Radio City Music Hall since 1932. Every year they put on a glamorous Christmas Spectacular show filled with military-precision leg kicks and formations. They rehearse six hours a day, 6 days a week for 6 weeks before the start of their show season. It takes extreme strength, stamina and coordination to be a Rockette. They’re famous for their enviable strong, long and lean legs. Melinda Farrell, a Rockette herself and assistant choreographer for the Christmas Spectacular, shared this muscle building, calorie burning leg workout based on the performers’ actual training sessions with Shape.com. Granted, you have to be at least 5’6” to be a Rockette, but their dance-based, lower body workout will lengthen and strengthen your legs no matter what height you are! (I am in the second trimester of my pregnancy and all of these moves, with a modification to #4, are safe to do unless your doctor has instructed you otherwise.)
1. Bottoms Up: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down and bend at your waist, placing your elbows above your knees with your hands together. Maintain a flat back by pulling your abs into your spine, engaging your lats so that your shoulder blades are down and keeping your neck in line with your spine. More weight should be on your heels so that your knees do not pass your toes. Without changing your posture, straighten your legs and then bend your knees to squat down again. Do 10 reps.
2. Curtsy Squat: Stand with your feet hip distance apart and your arms bent with your hands clasped together in front of your chest. Step your right foot diagonally back and to the left as you squat down dropping your right knee towards the ground. As you straighten back up, lift your right knee up touching the inside of your right foot to your left knee. Your right foot should be pointed. Simultaneously straighten your arms out to your sides in a low “V.” Go back to your starting position and repeat. Do 12 reps on each leg.
3. Élevé-: Stand with your legs turned out, heels together and toes apart. Place your hands on your hips with your fingers pointing down. Keep your abs pulled in and your spine long as you rise up onto the balls of your feet. This works your core too as you have to maintain balance. Lower your heels down with control. Do 8 reps turned out and then 8 more reps with your feet in parallel.
4. Eye-High Kick: Stand with your feet together, knees slightly bent and your hands on your hips with your fingers pointing down. As you jump up, kick your right leg up as high as you can with the toes pointed. Bring the leg back down and immediately jump up and kick the left leg to complete 1 rep. Continue alternating sides for 8 reps. (If you are pregnant and don’t have a dancer background, keep your kicks low and eliminate the jump.)
5. Clamshell: Place a resistance band around your thighs just above your knees. Lie down on your left side with your knees bent and legs stacked. Straighten your left arm out to rest your head on and place your right hand on the floor in front of you for support. Keeping your feet together, squeeze your right glute and outer thigh to open the right knee up towards the sky. Slowly lower down and repeat. Do 12 reps on each side.
6. Flex-Foot Tendu: Place a resistance band around your ankles and stand with your legs together. Flex your right foot as you lift your leg straight in front of you. Keeping tension on the band, carry your right leg out to the side and then behind you. Reverse the motion to return your leg to the starting position for 1 complete rep. Do 10 reps on each side.
Kick your legs up for the holidays and do 2-3 sets for each move 3 times a week!
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Photo: Wikimedia Commons; Video: Crystal Chin