On Pointe

Photograph: Connecticut Ballet Center
Above: An intermediate ballet class at the Connecticut Ballet Center

Now that we all know how to “om” without the chorus of a Vinyasa class, more adults are turning their attention to, and falling in love with, another centuries-old art form for exercise: ballet. Not the trendy, ballet-inspired fitness you’ll find at a Barre class or boot camp, but pure, unadulterated classical dance as it was meant to be done, requiring proper footwear and a dictionary.

Don’t worry: You can still wear your yoga clothes to class…but why not try ballet instead?

While yoga is an eight-fold path to align the body, mind and soul with universal energies for harmonious and meaningful living, asanas (postures) are only one expression of yoga. Simply put, those students going to yoga because they want to touch their toes and increase flexibility may have more reasons to take a ballet class. Whether you are a beginner or a returning dancer, BRETT RAPHAEL, director of the Connecticut Ballet and its affiliated school, Connecticut Ballet Center (CBC), shares the benefits of classical dance.

Corps Strength

5 reasons to add ballet to your fitness regimen

Ballet is an excellent form of exercise that strengthens and develops abdominal and back muscles. Ballet participants often notice less back pain, a flatter abdomen and a waistline that becomes more defined over time.

When you take ballet, you’re taught a series of simple exercises called the barre. These are designed to build poise and grace, and are repeated at each class to improve balance and strength. Many ballet classes also teach postural alignment exercises that promote good posture and create an awareness of alignment.

The movements taught in ballet classes are designed to tone and firm muscles so you develop a leaner you.

Ballet uses muscles that are seldom used in other sports, giving you a “total-body flexibility workout.” It’s not uncommon to be sore the day after your weekly ballet class (until the body adjusts and extends its range of movement).

When you perform ballet exercises and movements, they relax your mind. You focus on each movement, the placement of your legs, arms, even your head. These help stress melt away, particularly when dancing to beautiful classical melodies or excerpts from famous routines. Learning and recalling a sequence of steps and rapid-fire combinations while keeping time with music increases mental acuity.

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