Higher Tone

Variety is the spice of life and the fuel for fitness

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Ballet: artistic performance or athletic sport?

I left the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s performance of Swan Lake at Cardiff Millennium Centre feeling elated and inspired, secretly hoping that I was not too late to start pursuing the dream of becoming a prima ballerina.


Jenna Roberts made a beautiful white swan

Although a professional dancing career is probably not on the cards for me, with a bit of commitment I can still aspire to attain perfect ballet dancer legs.  Ballet is both a visually stimulating performance art and a gruelling form of exercise.  Ballerinas definitely have a desirable physique as they are slender and toned, but not too muscular.


The Black Swan Workout

Natalie Portman received critical acclaim for her role in the ‘Black Swan’, but the rapid transformation of her figure drew as much attention as her acting skills.  Ballerina Mary Helen Bowers trained Natalie Portman for her Oscar-nominated role year.  This involved six months of intense 10 to 12-hour dance sessions, often six days a week.

You will be pleased to know that I am not suggesting that everyone should attempt this incredibly demanding schedule.  Instead there are a few easy moves which will help you to target the smaller muscles that are often ignored by other workouts.

Superior Derriere 

Image1) Start on your hand and knees, with your arms placed directly under your shoulders

2) Bring one knee into your chest ad then push back into the arabesque position (as shown above)

3) Make sure you stretch the leg right back, this should work your legs and core simultaneously

4) Repeat 30 times then change legs

The Bridge


1) Start on your back with knees up and feet on the floor (for a more advanced movement go on your toes as shown in the picture)

2) Pull stomach in flat and close knees together

3) Lift hips slightly off the matt and squeeze tightly through your butt

4) With hips still lifted off the matt, point one leg up

5) Alternate legs and repeat 30 times

DIY Dips


Never forget to do regular arm exercises, as this will create a more elegant and slender frame.

1) Start on the floor, placing your hands just behind hips and feet in front of you with knees bent.

2) Keep your chest open and stomach pulled in flat

3) Pull in and lift hips off the floor, stretching your elbows (for a more advanced move go up onto your toes and extend one knee high as shown in the picture)

4) Bend elbows slightly and then straighten them to lower and raise butt and hips (doing a version of a dip).

5) Repeat 30 times

Who knows, you could end up looking like this?


Cardiff based adult ballet classes

There are many different ballet schools in Cardiff, but if you are looking for some ballet taster classes, then I would recommend:

  • The Gate Arts and Community Centre in Roath

There is an adult beginners class on Mondays 6-7pm


  • Rubicon Dance Centre

There is an adult beginners class on Thursdays 6-7pm


If you don’t feel compelled to leave your living room, then take 15-20 minutes to do this awesome dancer workout courtesy of ‘Back On Pointe’ tumblr