BAL­LET SCULPT

New Zealand Fitness - - IN THIS ISSUE -

Long, lean and strong By Cat Woods

Long, lean, strong. If you gave women a check­list of what they want from a fit­ness rou­tine, you can bet these boxes would be ticked, writes CAT WOODS. Add on fun, chal­leng­ing and celebrity -ap­proved.

Women who haven’t dis­cov­ered bal­let sculpt or sim­i­lar classes are se­ri­ously miss­ing out! I in­struc t bal­let sculpt, a one-hour class at Kew Recre­ation Cen­tre in Mel­bourne. There’s no danc­ing, no di­vas, no com­pli­cated chore­og­ra­phy or prior dance ex­pe­ri­ence re­quired. Ex­pe­ri­enced dancers and pi­lates-poised par­tic­i­pants will be chal­lenged by the ad­vanced mod­i­fi­ca­tions available through­out class. The beauty of the class is that it is open to all lev­els of fit­ness, women and men. Tak­ing the prin­ci­ples of pi­lates, there is a fo­cus on core strength and sta­bil­ity. Through­out class, I re­mind par­tic­i­pants to draw their belly-but­ton to­wards their spine, en­gag­ing their deep ab­dom­i­nal mus­cles. Not only does this im­prove bal­ance and as­sist in achiev­ing the holy grail (flat, toned

stom­ach mus­cles!), but it also holds the hips sta­ble and pro­tects the spine.

Be­tween sets of bal­let and pi­lates-in­flu­enced train­ing, we in­clude stretches to elon­gate mus­cles and train them to re­lease stress and ten­sion. The aim is to leave class feel­ing a lit tle shaky through the legs, but feel­ing lighter, looser and taller. I’m thrilled to watch as women who walked in pre-class, grace­fully swan out an hour later.

There are nu­mer­ous schools and train­ers of fer­ing their take on bal­let (barre) train­ing. Barre classes aren’t new to the fit­ness in­dus­try, but branches inspired by the orig­i­nal prac­tice are con­tin­u­ously grow­ing. The barre method is largely cred­ited to for­mer Ger­man dancer Lotte Berk, who star ted teach­ing her classes, even to non-bal­leri­nas, in the 1970s in New York City’s Up­per East Side.

I am in­flu­enced by Amer­i­can barre3 founder, Sadie Lin­coln’s meth­ods. She has a wide va­ri­ety of DVDs and on­line work­outs available and I’d en­cour­age those new to barre train­ing to seek out her on­line ten-minute guided classes. Barre Body and Xtend Barre are also pop­u­lar and of fer a range of classes and in­struc tors at their stu­dios in Mel­bourne.

Though all classes vary de­pend­ing on the in­struc­tor and the clien­tele, I tr y to struc­ture my class to in­clude 30 min­utes of stand­ing bal­let moves, pi­lates-in­flu­enced arm, leg and glute train­ing and dy­namic moves. This is fol­lowed by 30 min­utes of mat-based ab­dom­i­nal, glutes and back work. We al­ways end with a gen­tle stretch to re­lax and al­low the body to cool down.

Dur­ing the first half, we use re­ally tiny, iso­met­ric move­ments. It is sim­i­lar to the con­cept of us­ing light weights and do­ing a lot of reps re­sult­ing in fa­tigu­ing the mus­cles and en­cour­ag­ing lean mus­cle build­ing. Though the only re­quire­ment is a yoga mat, I like to use light dumb­bells, balls and bars to change the fo­cus of the work­out, en­hance the dif­fi­cult y or bal­ance chal­lenge from one class to the next.

Be­gin­ners, ex­pect to feel sore af­ter wards. Es­pe­cially if you have not prac­ticed pi­lates or dance-based work­outs. Though the class looks de­cep­tively easy and it is fun, you rely on the core sta­bi­liz­ing mus­cles that are com­monly under-used in many fit­ness classes and meth­ods of train­ing. The con­se­quence of those shaky legs and fa­tigued mus­cles is leaner, longer legs, stronger ab­dom­i­nal mus­cles, sculpted arms and shoul­ders and a tighter butt. No won­der Mi­randa Kerr, Mila Ku­nis and Ni­cole Richie are ad­dicted to this t ype of train­ing!

Cat Woods in plie po­si­tion.

Sadie Lin­coln's

barre3 class. Cat Woods is a Mel­bournebased per­sonal trainer and group fit­ness in­struc tor. She teaches Bal­let Sculpt and BodyPump and blogs at ht tp://cat­core.blogspot.com

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