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Not for dancers only
Publication Date : 30-10-2012
To acquire a dancer’s agile and toned body, growing numbers have signed up for ballet-based workouts that promise elegant deportment, leaner thighs, a taut bottom and improved flexibility. However, some non-dancing clients who enrolled in these classes have complained about back and knee pains.
Addressing these safety issues, Core Barre was developed to provide the benefits of ballet-based movements without the strain and to move effortlessly. Hence, its tagline “The Art of Smart Movement”.
“Before I trained for Core Barre, I thought it would be balletic. It’s really about fitness. There are push-ups and there are crunches,” said Camille Joson, master trainer for Core Barre at Options Studio.
She was a baby ballerina when she joined Ballet Philippines, moved up to principal dancer, then landed second place in the Paris International Dance Competition. She has also worked with choreographer Agnes Locsin.
Still, Joson’s mission is to share her experience as a movement specialist for studio-type exercises.
Different pace, goals
Although Core Barre has similarities with other ballet-based workouts, the pacing and the goals are different. “The system enables you to hold up not only your working muscles, but the entire body as well,” Joson said.
Just as in ballet, where the body is trained to lengthen the muscles from the joints to defy the pull of gravity, Core Barre gives you a workout that will help you combat the slouch and the flab without all the shaking.
The instructors are required to have extensive dance backgrounds to be able to demonstrate correct alignment and placement. They are trained to spot common mistakes such as putting too much load on the knees, or if participants are tilting their pelvis, which can lead to lower back pain.
The 55-minute class starts with the usual warm-up to get the heart pumping and to wake up the big muscle groups.
Thera bands are used for resistance training and for active isolation stretches.
This is followed by resistance exercises for the arms and upper body, using light dumbbells, toning balls or elastic bands.
The barre exercises target the legs and butt, particularly the little muscles which control the bigger muscles that make us move. They become challenging with the ballet squats (pliés), stretching of legs, transfers of weight, pulses of low arabesques and attitude (balancing with a gracefully bent leg), and balances on one leg.
Although these movements require the ballet turnout (the outward rotation from the hips and legs), it’s good for the non-dancer as well.
The correct turnout develops stability with fewer muscles involved.
Joson explained that the muscles from the pelvis, lower spine and abdomen are interdependent. When all these body parts work in synergy, there is less effort from the muscles but more freedom and enjoyment of moving.
How to get the dancer’s body? Aside from learning to “pull up”, clients are made to strengthen their inner thighs, calves, and the muscles surrounding the knees to acquire a dancer’s leg.
Although the ballet exercises cultivate refinement, instructor-trainer Jerald Jocson stresses that there are no sissy arms and hands for the guys.
The last part of the workout consists of exercises on the floor, focusing on athletic conditioning. “There are exercises where you contract the muscles and hold the position to build strength like maintaining the plank for several seconds,” says Jocson. “The plank works out the chest, arms and core muscles.”
Core Barre also provides exercises that challenge several muscle groups simultaneously—for instance, lying on the side while working on the core, the thighs and outer hip.
One reason people get injured during workouts is they overwork the muscles or push themselves too hard. Once they’re tired, they slacken their form and other surrounding muscles compensate for the fatigued muscles.
“In Core Barre, form is not sacrificed,” Joson said.
People who just want to exercise are encouraged to work within their limitations but still keep the correct form. “Given your limitations, you can become strong, improve endurance and learn to move more freely.”
Before her training, Joson had stiffness in her lower and mid-back. In a few weeks, she could gracefully arch her back. At another instance, she strained her back while picking up something from the floor. After doing a series of exercises targeting all parts of the abdomen, she felt relief from the pain.
A former dancer, Jocson said the programme gave him the confidence to pursue his art. “The programme is well-balanced. You get an overall workout, even if you’re just focusing on one part of the body. I also feel stronger but graceful. Since it’s done to music, I’ve got my sense of rhythm back.”
Although Core Ballet is designed for dancers, anybody can benefit.
Guys who go to the gym can gain from the stretching techniques that improve circulation, make their muscles more pliable and increase their range of movement.
The programme can also be modified for pregnant women who want to exercise to gird them for the stress of childbirth.