Queensland's leading adult ballet school
Celebrating 10 Years
two ballerinas

Ballet is good for you

Level One Triathlon Coach, Level One Swim Coach. Ballet Dancer 1964 – 1974.

Well what have you noticed about yourself since starting dancing with 2Ballerinas?

Are you standing taller, holding your hands differently, marking out steps in the supermarket isle?

Are you more hungry, less hungry? Changing shape slightly? Got muscles you forgot you had? Bragging that you’re back dancing again?

If you answered yes to any of these, then that’s good news!

In our most recent class I wore a heart rate monitor to see just where we were at in terms of physical output.

You’ll be pleased to know that Ballet is a seriously good sport to be in!

Here’s a few pointers for you…

Make use of the stretching at the start to warm up your large muscles groups and to relax your body so that you can be ready for some good exercise ahead. No stretching should hurt. If you are hurting then, back off the stretch and just do what is comfortable. More flexibility will come in time and should not be rushed or pushed. Use this time to let go of what you left behind at home or at work. Breath. Relax and allow your body to warm up gently.

At the bar, my heart rate wavered not peaking much through the marking out stage of each exercise, but definitely went up as we did the exercise to music. All the bar work was at a gentle heart rate that did not push any red lines at all. If you find that you are sweating a lot, then be sure to sip water often. Little sips from a sports water bottle, often is the key. This will help to keep you hydrated through the lesson and will help to keep cramps at bay.

My heart rate increased as we moved to the centre. The jumping warmup certainly got the heart rate going, but still did not reach any alarming heart rates. And then it increased again for the final part of the lesson when we moved across the room. I noticed that while I was putting in a serious effort, my heart was still not being overworked.

To sum things up, ballet is not a taxing on the heart activity. The work we do in these classes is in the passive to fat burning levels and is therefore helping to burn fat and increase your metabolism for you. It also is a high strengthening activity which will in the long run replace fat with muscle, so therefore may not actually show on the scales as a weight loss. The best way to measure if you’re changing shape is by how you wear your clothes. If you notice there’s just a little more room around your midriff, a belt notch tighter, your bras a slightly looser; or someone comments that you are looking more healthy, then these are all indicators that you are benefiting fitness wise with your dancing.

Are you noticing that your muscles are quivering from time to time especially during high strength exercises? Is your concentration dropping off towards the end of the class? This means that you are running out of energy, and need to be better fueled for your class.

Try to remember to have a light snack before you come to dancing. If you’re doing a morning class, then have breakfast at the usual time, then have a light morning tea around 9am to fuel up so that you have plenty of sustained energy to see you through the whole of the class. If you come to the evening class, then you must have a late afternoon tea – around 5pm, so that you can go all the way through to 7.30 with vigor after a long day at the office or at home managing things there.

A suggestion of a good snack before dancing could be any of the following…

Each of these servings will provide approximately 20-30g of Carbs and are great as pre ballet snacks:

  • 2 slices of normal slice bread preferably wholemeal or multigrain. A light smear of butter and some vegemite, jam or honey. How about a banana on that toast?
  • 1 low fat muffin/crumpet/Piklets/scone.
  • 4-6 ers Multigrain and wholemeal over plain. Low fat cheese and tomato; or try some peanut butter or honey.
  • 2 weet-bix Try the Sanitarium Multigrain variety with low fat milk.
  • 2/3 cup cooked pasta. Tomato type sauces, not creamy ones.
  • 1 medium potato Baked or boiled is best.
  • 1 apple / pear
  • 1 cup cooked oats.
  • 1/3 cup cooked rice Try brown if you haven’t already.
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1 cup baked beans
  • 1 medium banana
  • 200mL fruit juice
  • 1 cup corn flakes
  • 300mL yoghurt

In a later edition, I will be trying the heart rate monitor on two other dancers in my class and see what their heart is doing throughout a ballet class.

But at this stage, I feel that this is a good passive form of exercise which will safely raise your heart rate for a fitness gain, and is definitely a good strengthening activity for flexibility, joint freedom, good posture and healthy living. The most important thing is to really enjoy this wonderful opportunity to relive your earlier years of dancing and the freedom to be yourself with Ballet.

Sharyn McIntyre

top Last modified: Sun 3 Jan 2010