Ballet Conditioning

Turn the tide on muscle, bone and strength loss. It’s National Healthy Aging month and exercising to keep your body fit and flexible is key. Strength work, stretching and balance are as important, if not more so, than cardio. I recently expanded my exercising repertoire with Ballet Conditioning by Elise Gulan ($7.99) and find that it is a fantastic complement to The Bar Method and Jackie Warner’s circuits.

The great thing about Ballet Conditioning is that you use your own body weight as resistance and so there are no excuses about bad backs or an aversion to weights. You don’t need to have had any ballet training, or even start out being flexible and fit. Even people with dodgy knees will find that they can do plenty of the exercises. At the same time, those that are fit and demand a challenge from their workout will not be disappointed.

Ballet Conditioning works to build strong, lean muscle, raise the heart rate, and speed up metabolism. The moves promote balance and a supple flexible spine. There’s a simple grace to the movements, and I have attained elegant  poise. It is a workout that focuses on alignment without any complicated choreography.

As someone who enjoys using hand weights, I was surprised that I wasn’t frustrated by this hand’s free routine. In fact, I was amazed at how tired my arms became from simply holding them aloft against gravity. Having said that, this Ballet Conditioning workout focuses more on lower-body toning and I do feel the need to alternate some days with the above mentioned Bar Method and Warner routines.

Overall, Ballet Conditioning is a great exercise DVD for anyone who is concerned about muscle strength as they get older – and, let’s face it, we all should be (even if it’s simply to avoid having to ask a grandchild to open a bottle of wine for us). As we reach menopause, estrogen and testosterone hormones drop; and cortisol, a stress hormone that can break down muscle, increases.

But you can turn the tide on muscle and bone loss. I just read an article in Women’s Health magazine in which Dr Mark Tarnopolsky, of McMaster University Medical Center, says he’s seen women in their 60s with more strength and a leaner body mass than sedentary women in their 20s.

Elise Gulan is a clear instructor with great cuing so you don’t get all tangled up and confused. Although she danced with the Virginia Ballet Company, she has an everywoman (albeit in lean and toned) physique and is not at all intimidating. I love that she gives the class in a stunning open air setting by the sea that makes everyday feel like summer. What more motivation could you need.