My lasting memory of ballet is from when I was in second grade, when I took classes for a year. My teacher used to yell and yell if a student got things wrong… and second graders often get things wrong! There was one other girl in my class that also went by the name of Jane, so I was never sure if the teacher was yelling at me or the other Jane and because I was little, I was much too scared to ask this dragon lady which Jane was in trouble. I was scared to change what I was doing in case it wasn’t my demi-plié that was useless, but the other Jane’s. I was never really sure what was going on or who it was that was in trouble. Needless to say, my ballet “career” was short-lived.
Despite my past, I was nonetheless looking forward to my first adult ballet class at Twinkle Dance. Am I a glutton for punishment, or do I have an overinflated ego… who can say? Despite my seeming lack of talent, a very small part of me wildly hoped that perhaps my inner Black Swan would be set free and that perhaps I had some special gift my teacher had previously missed. I would be discovered and Natalie Portman would have to watch her back. Hmm… maybe!
The excellent teacher was Twinkle herself (the best name ever if you are a dancer!), though there are tons of classes available, with a variety of teachers. We started with a stretching warm-up session that was, frankly, not my forte. I’m currently training for a marathon, so my hamstrings are so tight that I’m totally unable to even touch my toes, never mind thinking of doing the splits!
Still, despite my initial failings, my enthusiasm was still not dampened, and we followed the stretching with some relatively straightforward barre work. Standing tall with good posture, I moved in time to the music through the various positions and actually managed to follow what was going on! Ok, if I’m being really honest, Natalie Portman has nothing to worry about just yet, but for the first time in my life ever, I felt like I was actually on my way to practicing ballet… in fact, I felt less of a clutz than in any previous dance class I’ve tried. Ironic really, since ballet is generally thought to be incredibly difficult.
The class did become a little more difficult, however not so much so that it was beyond my limited coordination capacities, (runners are not necessarily known for their grace!), and Twinkle took the time to go through things slowly in order that we first master the technique, then turn the movements into dance.
Afterwards, I really felt that with a few more classes I’d see an improvement and some real progress – perhaps even to get to the stage where an objective bystander might actually think I was doing ballet! Pretty satisfying!
In terms of a workout, this was pretty darn good. What I liked about the class was that it seemed to combine the stretching benefits of yoga with the core strengthening benefits of Pilates. However, because you were more focused on actually dancing, or holding the correct position, it took your mind off the burning in your butt! So much more enjoyable than having someone count you through some oblique toning move… all the benefit with a lot less pain! It was also really fun trying to jump and kick! Can you remember the last time that you tried to jump really high 8 times in a row with a little kick at the end? Me neither!
The class felt really invigorating – certainly more so than a yoga session, and perhaps it was the classical music, but the class felt calming, yet also uplifting and fun. And better still, my legs and butt were a little sore the next day… the mark of a good workout!
If you’re looking for a core workout that is both challenging and also super fun, I can certainly recommend trying an adult ballet class… I’ll see you at the barre!
For more information on classes from beginner to expert for kids and adults, see the Twinkle Dance website.
Main image sourced via Shutterstock
Ironman, multiple marathoner, corporate lawyer, and mum of one, Jane grew up in a small coastal town in Australia. Not ever wanting to be too far from a beach, she recently moved south to Hong Kong after a 2-year stint in Shanghai. When she’s not running – either round and round a track or after a toddler – Jane studies Chinese, cooks for friends, and does crafts. She also blogs at Dim Sum and Long Runs. This year she plans to break 3 hours in the marathon, and to finally finish the quilt that she started for her son’s first Christmas…