I think we underestimate ballet way too much. I know I did. Before taking classes I knew it was going to be hard for someone with little coordination and techinical skills, but I never in my wildest dreams thought Ballet of all workouts would make me sore!
There are so many things going on in a plié. When you plié, it’s important that you tuck your tailbone right under so that your butt doesn’t stick out–quite the opposite of a squat. To do this you have to be mindful engaging your glutes, inner thighs and hamstrings. I thought I was doing a pretty good job over at the barre until the teacher came and pressed her legs straight against my back. My tailbone wasn’t tucked directly under. My oh my, engaging your thighs and glutes isn’t something to take lightly in ballet–you really have to concerntrate on every single rep! There’s nothing graceful about a booty ballerina.
Oh, by no means am I a professional or even intermediate ballerina, this is just the things I learned within the month of August with my unlimited monthly drop in class. 🙂
I thought boot camp was going to be a breeze since I’ve experienced Insanity(and let me tell you, it’s the best exercise program out there) and done tons of HIIT(thanks, Cassey Ho!) prior to the class, but the squat is really what made all the difference and that’s how I woke up sore. The constant energy I have to put into the engagement of my muscles burned more calories than I ever burned doing regular squats! Quality above everything else, guys.
So if pliés weren’t enough, there’s also the turnout. In a turnout your feet are in a V position with the inner arches of your ankles raised. If bugs were to party in that little cave created them you’re doing it right and you’re engaging your hip rotaters and glutes. This is a technique thats barely visible but absolutely critical in protecting tour knees. In every Grande battement(that’s french for grand kick), every piroutte and plié, it’s important to maintain a turnout position, which causes the lower gluteus maximus, core, and above all, inner thigh to work. It takes so much concentration to do ballet. I’d say more concentration than any other type of dance. For example, in afro jazz you’re most loose through your joints and skeltal muscles. Ballet is by far the most controlled, stamina-istic(is that word? It is in my book) dance of all. I was sore for 2 days straight after that workout, something that even inner thigh Pilates hasn’t been able to do in a while.
To sum it up, here’s how to do a proper ballerina squat:
- Tuck your tailbone under like crazy
- Ground down through the big toe pad(opposite to big toe knuckle)
- Lift the inner arches of your feet
- Engage your inner thighs
- Energetically rotate your inner thighs to the front. Statically feel like you’re showing off the back of your legs by rotating your heels to the front!
So, if you’re feeling all high and mighty about your squats, I challenge you to try the plus squat. If you think your tailbone is tucked, think again because chances are, it’s not. Besides, it’s beneficial to switch up your exercise routine so a)you don’t get bored and b)you challenge your body to new movements. It’s not a bad way to get in a smiling workout either.
Have you ever taken a ballet or barre class? How often do you squat? What’s your dance history? If you could choose one type of dance to master, what type would it be?