Natalie Portman morphed herself from actress to prima ballerina for her Oscar-winning role in "Black Swan." We know the movie spotlights the dark side of the dance world, however, the film also set off a flurry of ballet-inspired workouts.
Who wouldn't want the lean, toned, beautiful body of a dancer? I do, especially now that beach season is almost here.
So, I got en pointe and into action at Pure Yoga in New York City and signed up for their ballet-inspired class - Figure 4. The barre class was created by former ballerina Kate Albarelli, who says, "I structured the Figure 4 class in a way that emulates a ballet class, maintains the flow and the rigor, and promotes the most health for the heart and the muscles."
Unlike other barre classes, Kate added cardio to her class and claims that it helps burn fat and create that 'oh-so' nice chiseled look.
Kate's hour-long class kicked my not-so-toned butt! My glutes, thighs and abs were all activated and hence burning, shaking, and quivering. I thought a few times I might collapse during the thigh work at the barre. It's frustrating to not be able to complete my reps - especially when ladies older than myself are holding it longer and are way stronger.
Figure 4 works out 4 major muscles groups - the abs, arms, thighs and glutes. "Dancers have gorgeous long bodies because they not only lengthen, tone, stretch, and use their own body weight, but they MOVE THEIR LIMBS in tandem," adds Kate.
I am heading into my second week at Pure Yoga's Figure 4. I don't see much of a difference yet - but Kate (who has a beautiful ballerina body) says 'just wait.' If done consistently three times a week, anyone can see results in a few weeks. I am sticking with it - with great hopes of having a buffed ballerina body soon! C'mon Kate work me into shape - please!
For those who aren't in New York, Kate has put together some of her favorite toning exercises people can do at home.
1) Stand at a wall with fingertips lightly touching wall for balance: Keep feet hip width apart, toes pointed forward. Legs are perfectly straight. Lift and lower the heels keeping the legs straight. Repeat 25 times. Do with right arm overhead; repeat with left arm overhead. Do 3 reps of 25 on each leg. This is a quick calf muscle boost with upper body incorporation.
2) Take 2nd position with legs wide and toes turned out to 45 degrees. Take left hand anywhere that feels comfortable, even resting on the side of a couch. Put right arm out to the side. Bend down deeply and keep shoulders directly over hips. Stop right before thighs are parallel to the floor. From here, lower down and up one inch. Do it 25 times. Stay in starting position and bend down one inch and then all the way up to straight legs. Repeat 25 times. Lastly, bend back down to the starting wide 2nd position and pulse 25 times. Repeat entire sequence with left arm out and right hand resting on furniture.
3) Stand with your back against a wall. Soften both knees. Keep left knee soft and point right leg straight in front. Make sure leg is straight. Keep left arm overhead. Lift and lower the leg 15 times, keeping it straight the whole time. On the final one, pause at the top and then pulse the leg 15 times. Pause at the end and hold the leg as straight as possible and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side!
For information on Figure 4, check out www.pureyoga.com.
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