For the Body and Soul: Why Body Ballet Is Not Just Fitness

For the Body and Soul: Why Body Ballet Is Not Just Fitness

Body ballet classes are great for improving endurance and flexibility. Besides, they inspire aesthetically. No longer fitness, but not yet ballet - this is the specificity of this type.  

Body ballet and "ordinary" ballet - what's the difference?

The heyday of the body ballet came in the late 1990s. The widespread passion for fitness and group training sparked interest in classes that combine plasticity, choreography and strength training. Body ballet should not be confused with adult ballet: they have different goals and tools. Adult ballet is classical choreography lessons taught at the barre or in the center of a classroom, where students learn positions and practice movements. Adults do this with the same purpose as children: to master the basics of ballet art, learn to dance simple combinations, perform elements, develop musicality and plasticity. 

Body ballet is fitness with ballet elements. This type is chosen by everyone who wants to keep their muscles in good shape, improve posture and stretching. The dance as such is unimportant for body ballet, what matters here is combinations of moves and strength training. Another difference can be formulated as follows: in classical ballet, technique and artistry are important, while body ballet students rather focus on the essence of the exercises: which muscle groups to engage to get a certain effect. 

Adult ballet classes are usually held to classical music; some studios even have piano accompaniment. Body ballet can be practiced to both classical or contemporary music, depending on the preferences of the coach and the group. 

The appearance of students often differs too. In regular ballet classes, you can often see real classical dance outfit - white or black sports leotards, ballet shoes, and elastic leggings sometimes. In a body ballet class, you can usually train in a freer - in every sense - uniform. 

You can practice body ballet in offline group classes or in online schools. On the Internet, you can find both individual lessons and complete courses in this fitness type. 

How is a lesson structured?

A typical body ballet lesson is structured similarly to other types of group fitness classes, which are based on dance. 

The lesson begins with a warm-up block about 10 minutes long. As before any strength training, it's critical to warm up your muscles and ligaments so you don't get injured during the main part. In online classes, you shouldn’t skip a warm-up either, even if nobody’s watching you. 

After the warm-up, students move on to the barre: they do the first set of exercises in front of a mirror, and outwardly this, indeed, resembles ballet exercises. The coach monitors the execution technique and corrects mistakes to prevent injury. 

The similarity between body ballet and classical ballet does not end there. Students go to the center of the room and start a more dynamic part. Plies and jumps are combined with cardio - as if ballerinas have added a bit of aerobics to their classes. 

Coaches often includes elements of Pilates in the structure of their body ballet lessons. A popular request among those who come to class is to strengthen their back and abs, as well as work deep into their core muscles. This goal is easier to achieve using flexibility and endurance exercises. To do them, the group may need sports mats. 

The final part of the lesson is stretching. The muscles are already warmed up and worked enough to try and approach a goal important for many body ballet students - front and side splits.

Not just flexibility but grace, not just strength workout but a compositionally built and aesthetic lesson - this is what, probably, distinguishes body ballet from other group fitness classes.