Posts Tagged ‘Health’

My New Love – Pilates

February 21, 2012

Pilates class OK, I’ve been thin all my life, not counting the times while pregnant. However, I’ve always felt that I had a little pooch. I longed for the flat tummy and tried doing crunches. But, that never did the trick.

Recently I started taking Pilates Mat classes on a weekly basis. I can’t believe the difference in how my body feels and looks! And I’ve noticed a difference in ballet class. My upper body is much more stable and my balance has improved.

I wish I had tried Pilates a long time ago. I heard of it when I was a dance major at Brockport State,  but I had no idea what it was (no internet back then). Pilates was developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. It is a conditioning workout that improves core strength and creates long, lean muscles. The workouts can be done on the mat or using special apparatus.

The Pilates mat class is definitely work, but I find it very enjoyable. I’ve found a wonderful instructor, Tenicia Trask (T), of TNT Fitness Studios. She has a special way of explaining how the exercises should be done. T has an eagle eye and lets you know if you are not doing the movement correctly. She is in tune with the different ability levels of the class participants and offers modifications and challenges. Pilates is a tough workout, but T makes the class enjoyable and is very encouraging.

I look forward to the the class every week because I feel amazing afterwards. And I finally have that flat tummy!

Sometime I’m going to try Pilates on the apparatus….


Book of Foot Strengthening Exercises

October 18, 2011

The Perfect Pointe Book , by Lisa Howell, has many excellent foot strengthening exercises. Included with the book are video clips of students who demonstrate the exercises.

As you can guess by the title, it is geared towards dancers who are preparing to go on pointe for the first time. However, the exercises are great for any dancer or athlete. We don’t always think of strengthening the feet, but it is important.

All my younger dancers that are preparing for pointe work or who are already studying pointe do these strengthening exercises. I also incorporate them into my Balletone classes, which is a barefoot workout.

Do you exercise your feet?

Barefoot is Better

September 6, 2011

The other day I watched my husband try on and purchase a pair of Vibram Fivefingers. I thought about getting a pair for myself, but I just couldn’t picture myself wearing those ugly shoes! (Just look at the photo!)

I know how imporFeet wearing Vibrams Fivefingerstant it is to strengthen the muscles of the foot and not rely on shoes for support. That’s one of the reasons why I teach Balletone, a barefoot work out that incorporates cardio, ballet movement, and Pilates and yoga inspired exercises.

The barefoot training helps increase the strength, agility and function of the feet. This in turn provides a solid base of support and improves balnce and stability.

I’m sure that the Fivefingers help do the same thing. But, for now I’ll do the Balletone barefoot work outs and continue to wear more traditional shoes in everyday life.

What do you think about these shoes? Do you wear minimalist shoes like these? If so, what is your experience?

Listen to Your Body

August 29, 2011

I was going to take a Pi Yo class last Thursday, but every muscle and joint in my body ached. I listened and rested instead. Little did I know that I wouldn’t get to work out for many more days.  Irene forced us to change our plans so I didn’t teach on Friday or on Sunday.

I hated not dancing for so many days in a row! However I feel refreshed (although a little stiff). This article that I read last week has some merit:

Do you rest your body when fatigued or do you keep pushing?

Easy to Follow Dance Injury Prevention Book

August 22, 2011

Cover of Dance Medicine BookI just started reading Dance Medicine: Head to Toe: A Dancer’s Guide to Health by Judith R. Peterson.  I’ve read many books on this topic, but this book is easy to read and the illustrations help to explain the material.

I’m not looking to be a doctor nor am I trying to diagnose ailments that my students have. But I believe that it is important to understand the body when teaching dance and fitness classes.  I don’t want students to do anything in class that will hurt them. This is true for all of my students – young and old alike.

In addition to the pictures of the body, this book also has beautiful photos of dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet Company. It’s a nice to view those while trying to digest the technical information.

I recommend this book for dancers, fitness professional, dance teachers and welcome suggestions of other dance medicine/injury prevention books.

Ballet is Great Exercise!

July 26, 2011

A fellow instructor posted a link to a ballet article on , a website supported and promoted by Lance Armstrong.  The article gave some ballet barre exercises that you can do at home.

What amazed me the most was that this was not the only ballet article on the site. There are at least 20 entries about ballet! And there are also videos that demonstrate ballet moves, although I had trouble viewing them.

All of the ballet-related information is under the fitness section of the website. I know from experience that Ballet and Balletone (a cardio fitness class that incorporates ballet movement and pilates based strengthening exercises) are great forms of exercise. Looks like more people are catching on!

Do You Get Enough Sleep?

November 9, 2010

We just gained an extra hour over the weekend, so you may have caught up on a little sleep.

I’m sure that you’ve heard that it’s important to get enough sleep. Well, it’s even more important if you work out. When you exercise as dancers do, sufficient sleep helps you bounce back. Sleep is a time when the body does most of its repair work. Muscle tissues are rebuilt and restored by growth hormones that are secreted during sleep. In addition to building muscle tone, skin appearance also improves.

If you don’t get enough sleep, it can affect you physically. Coordination suffers and we also lose our ability do things with agility. It’s also hard to think clearly. Dance combinations challenge the brain, so it’s important to be well rested before tackling a dance class. Besides all of this, lack of sleep can make you hungry.

So, what is the right amount of sleep? It varies for each individual, but eight to ten hours seems to be the typical amount.
Make sure you get to bed at a reasonable hour, don’t power nap late in the late afternoon or evening, avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day, and avoid using the computer right before you go to bed (reading a book is a good idea).

Sleep tight!