Saturday, July 5, 2014

Guest Post: Staying Fit with Running and Ballet

I took ballet as a child, studied a semester's worth as an elective in college, and have since taken one or two classes just for fun. It's always been one of those things for me...I just wish I had been better at it, or that I had stuck with it long enough to dance en pointe because those that do look so damn elegant. And let's be honest, ballet is a great workout. Evidence: The onslaught of barre-style classes. We offer one at my gym, it's a cross between ballet-based moves and traditional strength moves, and it's oh-so popular. But even when I take classes like this, I still get nostalgic for my days in light pink shoes. Perhaps someday I'll find a way to take a class more regularly. Or even dance en pointe.

I'm sure it would do wonders for my running game and/or my flexibility. Although she's primarily into ballet, Kristen of Adult Ballerina Project combines the two to stay fit. She offered to share with you how she got back into ballet as an adult, and how you can do the same.

While in college, I stayed in shape with frequent trips to the gym. During my senior year, I started taking ballet classes once a week and fell in love with it. I also started running, mostly on a track (both indoors and out), as I knew I’d be losing my gym membership soon.

Now that I’ve been away from college for a year (a scary thought), it’s been an adjustment being away from the gym, too. It hasn’t always been easy. Luckily, my ballet membership only costs me $45 a month, so it’s been easy on my wallet. However, I have had to deal with stress fractures in both of my legs, probably due to the switch in styles of workouts. Fortunately, I’ve done a lot of at-home workouts to help improve my calf muscles and it finally seems to be working. As long as I properly space out my workouts and (most importantly) listen to my body, working out and staying fit is completely possible.

Here are some of my tips:

1) Find a cheap dance studio or other type of fitness studio that offers a wide variety of classes. I take as many classes as I want every month for less than what some gym memberships cost!

2) If you're new to running or new to running outdoors, take it slow—I learned this one the hard way!

3) Don't skimp on good gear. Make sure you have proper footwear for ballet and running, or whatever sport or fitness activity you've taken up.

4)  If you're a runner and deal with shin splints like me, run on softer surfaces. For me, this sometimes means running on the grass beside the sidewalk, or going out of my way to get to a running trail.

5) Check out at-home workout options. When it's snowy, rainy or you just don't feel like leaving the house—have some options available for an at-home workout.

6) Listen to your body and don't push yourself. If you're achy, take a day (or two or three) off to let yourself heal.

And since I've taken a few ballet classes in my time, I'd also like to contribute the following:

7) Be confident and have fun if you choose to pursue ballet again. In my experience, the adults in adult-only ballet classes are typically there to continue a dream, remember an old passion, or to just have fun. Go and do the same, even if you don't have the tutu or leo. If I take a ballet class, I'm in fitness clothing—and no one seems to care. 

8) If ballet classes really, truly intimidate you—take a friend and be the two newbies in the back row. Or pursue barre-style classes where you'll get a taste of dancing with a bite of fitness, too.

For more ballet inspiration, or to connect with other adults returning to the art of dance, follow Kristen on Facebook and Twitter.

Question: What is your experience with ballet? Have you ever taken a dance class in your adult years? What about barre-style fitness classes? Are you a fan? Why or why not?

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