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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Ballet Fitness - For a strong core and more!

Nov 03, 2009 06:38PM
By Lisa Moore

Ever dreamed of having the long, lean muscles and six pack abs of a dancer but without the tutu and endless hours at the barre? Ballet Fitness, a workout for non-dancers, can sculpt the body, improve posture and instill confidence.

The hour-long class uses a series of resistance bands and simple ballet exercises to strengthen and stretch target areas such as arms, glutes, legs and the core. Although based in ballet, it’s simple enough for someone with no previous training to pick up and enjoy. Since there is no actual dancing, there is no need to worry about having two left feet.

Dancers rely on a strong core to sustain their quick energetic movements. A strong core can aid the body in many ways: protecting the back, improving posture, supporting sports activities and making daily activities like picking up a child easier. Having strong, stretched arms and legs can also reduce possible injuries and create a more balanced body.

Ballet instructor Allison Hollingsworth of Charlotte originally developed Ballet Fitness as a conditioning class to aid dancers in strengthening and injury prevention. Each class begins with a head-to-toe standing warm up then moves into a strengthening segment. Resistance bands are used to tone arms and legs while targeting the core to keep the body stabilized. After an abdominal sequence the class is ends with a relaxing, deep stretch.

Hollingsworth keeps the low impact workout light and fun, using music ranging from Salsa to the 70’s and encourages laughter. “I try to make it an atmosphere where you leave your day and all its issues at the door when you walk in,” she says.  Students can see visible results in about a month with bi-weekly classes.

Ballet Fitness is non-intimidating and simple enough for anyone to do. For those who have always wanted to try ballet but never had the chance, it is a perfect starting place. The workout is easy on the joints and beneficial for any age.

Hollingsworth recalls a gentleman in his 60's who had never had a day of ballet in his life. “He found that years of sports were taking their toll on his body,” she states.  “He stuck with the class and made great strides in his flexibility.”

The mental aspect of ballet is a workout bonus.  Students have to learn patterns and new ways of doing things.  “You have to remember from one class to the other and build upon that knowledge,” notes Hollingsworth, who works around restrictions of age, body and flexibility.  “As adults we don't learn totally knew things that often and rarely in a progressive learning situation.”

Robin Leahy has been taking Ballet Fitness classes with Hollingsworth for six months and has seen marked improvement. “I've gained strength and flexibility, improved balance, lost inches and over 40 pounds and developed new friendships,” says the 49-year-old nurse. “I appreciate the calmness and peaceful instruction in this class versus other group exercises. It helps me stay focused but at ease while exercising.”

For information on local classes visit

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