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.
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