This Lower-Body Ballet Workout Will Inspire You to Rekindle Your Love of Dance
In the massive boom of pandemic-led at-home fitness, you might think that traditional gyms are dead, but you'd be wrong. It's more so that the tried and true brands and spaces you loved before are pivoting to include both in-gym at at-home services, including connected fitness equipment, apps, and streaming options. Among the giants is luxury fitness company, Equinox, and you better believe the brand knows how to keep workouts interesting.
One of the latest additions to their roster of unique and challenging classes is a first-of-its-kind partnership with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT), one of the world's most renowned professional dance companies.
Dubbed Ballet by Equinox x ABT, the 45-minute class structure was carefully curated by Equinox instructor Chris Vo and ABT corps de ballet member, Katie Boren, to attract a variety of fitness and dance enthusiasts. The class incorporates the fundamentals of ballet, but it also includes elements of barre such as athletic jumps, turns, and TheraBand sequences to improve posture, flexibility, balance, and mindful movement — so you don't have to be a trained ballerina nor a pro athlete to have fun with this workout. (Related: Cardi B Tried Ballet for the First Time and Documented the Entire Process)
"We created this class for everyone to enjoy and be challenged by, with both ends of the fitness spectrum in mind," says Vo. The hope is that if you return to the course again and again, you'll progress with both the movement patterns and your fitness and endurance to continue to get more and more out of the technique, he explains.
"One day could be just getting through the shapes and positions with your body, and others you might want to get very deep into your legs and move a little bigger," he adds. "This class may serve as a gateway to those who desire to take their barre workout to the next level and/or to satiate those who want to rekindle their love of dance from their past." (Related: Try This No-Equipment Leg Workout When You Can't Make It to the Gym)
When designing the class, one of the most important elements was the authenticity of ballet technique — making it different than a typical barre class you may have taken before, explains Vo. "We wanted to ensure we created a ballet-inspired experience that honors the deep classical roots of ABT and ballet and that starts with the instructors," he says. "In order to ensure the experience remains authentic from both a visual and verbal perspective, all Ballet by Equinox x ABT class instructors have extensive ballet training and are able to teach the class with passion and energy that makes all participants feel successful and deliver a solid workout experience." (Related: This Ballet-Inspired Core Workout Will Give You a New Respect for Dancers)
On the other hand, all Ballet by Equinox x ABT classes are designed around the beat of the music, which holds true to the group fitness experience. You'll also find the use of TheraBand Resistance Bands (Buy It, $13, amazon.com) throughout class to encourage proper alignment and muscle engagement, as finding a connection through the upper body, core, rib cage, and pelvis is crucial to maintaining good form, he explains. The bands are also used to enhance flexibility through classic dancer-inspired stretch sequences.
As for how the class is structured, Vo shares that it starts with barre fundamentals, followed by mat-based conditioning work, and you'll finish with exhilarating dance combinations. The strength and cardio elements of the class are seamlessly integrated throughout.
"The hope is that within the 45-minute class, we're able to take the conditioning work and infuse it with artistry, allowing you to gain a little bit of mobility, a little bit of strength, a little bit of technique, and a lot of spirit throughout the entire experience," says Vo.
To give you a feel for the class (available at select Equinox locations in New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.) try this exclusive 15-minutes lower-body ballet workout designed by Vo. Follow along and get ready to channel your inner ballerina — no stage or spotlight required.
15-Minute Lower-Body Ballet Workout from Ballet by Equinox x ABT
How it works: These ballet exercises flow from one to the next with little to no break in between. Complete each exercise in the sequence back-to-back for a total of two to four rounds depending on your fitness level and available time. In total, the workout shouldn't take more than 15 minutes to complete.
What you'll need: just some open space
Ballet positions to know to complete this ballet workout:
- First position: Position feet so that heels are touching and toes are pointing at a diagonal out to the front corners.
- Second position: With legs about hips-distance part, position feet so heels are facing each other and toes are pointing at a diagonal out to the front corners.
- Fifth position: Stand with feet close together toes facing out to the sides. Place foot in front of the other so that the front foot's heel touches the back foot's toe.
- Passé: Start in fifth position. Point both toes and Bend one leg and lift it up to bring pointed toes to the inside of the standing leg's knee.
- Passe developpé effacé: From in passé. Unfold the bent leg directly in front of you until it's straight, hips may be slightly turned out. Leg can reach up to hip height or as high as possible without breaking the position.
- Tendu: Stand in first position. Extend one foot out in front by sliding it across the floor. As the heels naturally begins to lift, point through the ankle creating a fully pointed foot. Toes remain on the floor.
- Pas de bourrée: Begin in first position. Bring one foot behind the other, bending at the knee and pointing toes, bringing them to just behind the heel of the front foot. Lift back toes slightly off the ground, and bend both knees to plié. Press up and out of the plié coming into a relevé and immediately bring front foot out to side so both feet are hips-width apart. Then, bring opposite foot in front (whichever foot was behind at the start) of the other, toes pointing out. Back knee bends and toes hover off the floor. You should be in the same position as you began, just with opposite legs.
Ronde de Jambe
A. Start with feet in fifth position.
B. Bend right leg and lengthen the left leg in a tendu.
C. Draw half circles with the right leg. Focus on rotating outward from the hip and thigh while stabilizing through the left leg.
Draw 16 half-circles; repeat on other side.
A. Start by standing in fifth position. Make a diamond shape with legs by bending knees and bringing toes of right foot to left ankle.
B. Extend right leg in front, keeping knees and toes turned out.
C. Fondu to passe by drawing the toes of the right leg up from the ankle to the knee.
D. Complete fondu extend and fondu passé two times en croix, meaning in the shape of a cross (front, side, back, side) with the right leg.
Repeat on other side.
Arabesque Leg Pulse
A. Start in fifth position with left foot forward and right foot back.
B. Shift weight forward and slide left leg forward. Maintain external rotation through both legs and hips.
C. Keeping chest tall, lift right leg as high as you can behind you and pulse.
Pulse for 16 reps; repeat on the other side.
Jump Progression from First and Second Positions
A. Start by standing in first position. Lift heels and pulse up and down six times while keeping legs straight.
B. Immediately transition into second position. Lift heels and pulse up and down six times.
C. Switch back into first position. This time, bend knees and pulse up and down three times while keeping feet flat on the ground.
D. Repeat progression from start to finish by adding small jumps between each rep.
Repeat progression for a total of 4 rounds from beginning to end.
A. Start in a tendu.
B. Brush right foot back into an arabesque.
C. Keep both legs lengthened and shoulders in line with hips as you lift and scoot the standing heel to turn your body 360 degrees. Return to the same position you began in.
D. Transition from arabesque to passe developpé effacé and finish with a pas de bourrée by stepping front, side, and back to end the progression in fifth position.
A. Begin with feet in fifth position. Bring toes of your left foot to the ankle of the right foot.
B. Hinging from the knee, alternate the position of the left foot from the front of the right leg and then the back of the right leg.
Repeat motion 4 times slowly and 8 times quickly.