Friday, November 12, 2010

Review of The New York City Ballet Workout

“Ballet is for each dancer a private affair of the soul,” remarks Peter Martins, balletmaster in chief of the New York City Ballet, during the closing stretches of the New York City Ballet Workout.
   It’s just one of the touches that made me feel a bit like a real ballet dancer while following the DVD.
   The workout is chock-full of passés, relevés, tendus and arabesques, all set to ballet music.
   And Martins narrates it all as actual ballet dancers complete the moves.
   The DVD answers a question I’ve always had: Do ballet dancers do abdominal work or push-ups?
   Yes, they do! Crunches, bicycles and push-ups were all present in the workout.
    Floor exercises came first after the warm-up and before the standing ballet poses, an approach I liked. Usually, it’s standing exercises before floor or mat exercises in many other workouts, but I was happy to get crunches and push-ups out of the way first.
   Also included in the floor work are leg lifts done while lying on the back and the side, and back work done by lifting the arms and legs while lying face down.
   There is one section I skipped on the DVD: Section 4, which is a series of slow and deep stretches. I prefer to stretch deeply after a workout, and so breezed past this.
   After the floor sections, the standing dance work begins.
   Here we encounter the moves Martins says ballet dancers do every day – plié (bending at the knees), relevé (lifting up the heels), degagé (lifting the leg off the ground), tendu (pointing the toe to the ground in the front, side and back), passé (lifting the toe to the knee of the opposite leg), and arabesque (lifting one leg to the back at a 45, then 90-degree angle to the floor).
   It is all great fun, and I definitely felt the impact later in my thighs and butt.
   The thing I like most about this DVD, though, is that it forces me to keep my tummy pulled in all the time.
   It just doesn’t feel right doing ballet with your stomach hanging out – it seems to be counterproductive.
   People who like a lightning-paced workout with a techno beat backing it may be disappointed with the New York City Ballet Workout.
   Although it is certainly challenging, it is subdued.
   But if you’re a fan of classical music, ballet, or of holding your stomach in while you work out, this DVD is for you.

The New York City Ballet Workout on amazon.ca

Another good ballet-based workout: Trudie Styler's Sculpt and Tone Ballet

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