By Bethany Leger
It is the number one New Year’s resolution: Get fit. With 2016 just around the corner, gyms across the country are gearing up for the inevitable annual influx of new business. Instead of committing yourself to a six-month contract of pounding the treadmill, consider another option—adult ballet. Women (and men) are trading their sneakers for slippers and looking svelte. Think you’re too old to try ballet? Here’s five reasons you should try an adult ballet class in 2016.
- It’s great exercise.
Professional ballet dancers may seem to float on air with their effortless spins and leaps, but ballet is not as easy as it looks. Ballet works all major muscle groups, providing a well-rounded, full-body workout. It uses both aerobic and anaerobic exercise to build stamina, core strength, and lean muscle development. The structure of a ballet class is designed to systematically warm up the body beginning with slower movements that increase circulation and joint mobility, and eventually graduate into larger movements that encourage coordination and cut calories in the process. So, if you find yourself getting tired of the monotonous morning jog, propel your legs towards the nearest ballet studio instead.
- You get a little culture.
Ballet is a beautiful art form that instills grace and poise. Yes, you will walk taller and feel a little fancier. After all, ballet originated in the royal court! Not only does it improve your posture, but every class is filled with artistic inspiration to explore; ballet technique is the foundation of all dance, and can prove to be an exhilarating challenge. Classical music fills the room, and in some adult ballet classes, live piano accompaniment replaces iPods. In an increasingly technological society, adult ballet allows students to revisit a different era, one that helps them get in shape and feel beautiful at the same time.
- There’s no pressure.
Many adults hesitate to sign up for ballet for fear they will look silly, or that they are trying to live up to some childhood fantasy. For the record, it’s not silly, and it’s never too late to try out your childhood fantasy! Unlike youths who are pursuing an intense training program, adult ballet is created for adults 18 and up who want to dance for recreation and fitness, not to pursue a professional performing career. Some adults take class because they want to try something new, or embrace new challenges. Others simply come to class because they want to unwind after a hard day at work. Regardless of your goals, adult ballet is a pressure-free zone.
- You can leave the tutu at home.
Adult ballet does not require you to look like you just stepped out of The Nutcracker. Leggings, yoga pants, and tank tops are all popular alternatives to the traditional leotard and tights. Of course, leotards and tights are always encouraged as they promote a clean, professional look, however, it is not a prerequisite. Proper footwear, however, is. Refrain from purchasing footwear online, and make sure to have your first ballet shoes fitted by a professional. Otherwise, any activewear that allows you to move comfortably and freely is acceptable to wear in adult ballet class. Jewelry should be kept at a minimum, though small earrings offer a chic touch that make you look like a pro. Not a bun head? No problem. Just keep your hair pulled back and out of your face.
- It’s cost-effective.
This ain’t Julliard. Most dance studios and schools offer class cards, or punch cards, for adults. Unlike their pre-professional counterparts who pay out the nose for tuition, class cards are a reasonable alternative for adults who want to avoid any long-term commitment. Adult ballet typically costs between $10-15 per class. You can pay a one-time drop-in fee, or purchase a class card of 10 or more classes at a discount. Purchasing a package of classes saves adult students time and money, so they can focus on what’s really important: dancing.
Adult ballet offers many physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Here’s to staying in shape and staying classy in 2016.
About the Author
Bethany Leger taught ballet for 7 years in Dallas, TX. She is the founder of Ballet For Adults, a site dedicated to educating adults about ballet at balletforadults.com. She now lives and works in Asheville, NC.