Body Blog: Tone & Tighten with Ballet

Forty-five minutes on the elliptical, on the treadmill or in a spin class – that’s my usual cardio routine. But, like many fitness fanatics, I tend to get bored easily. There always comes a time when I crave a workout adventure to keep me motivated.

I’ve sweat through an hour and 30 minutes of  bikram yoga; I’ve trained for and run a half marathon. So when my very good friend suggested I try something called Xtend I was totally down.

I’m sure most of us have heard of the latest fitness trend that incorporates ballet and pilates. The Tracy Anderson Method, Physique 57 and Fluidity are examples of this intense stretching and strengthening program. Xtend is the one found in good ole Hoboken, NJ.

Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I mean, I was told to wear spandex, so I new there would be lots of bending (or maybe some sort of 80’s movie dance routine). But the class regulars explained that I would soon be very, very sore. This excited me because I absolutely love having sore muscles. You really know you’ve gotten a good workout when you can’t walk down stairs the next day.

Anywho, we all lined up and got ready to workout. We began with arm circles, then added in light weights. “Not so bad,” I thought to myself. Looks like I spoke to soon. The workout soon progressed to squats and  ballet barre work and – good Lord! – I’ve never done so many reps in my life. It was CRAZY. I felt the burn in the first 3 minutes of warming up, but the instructor was not forgiving; she kept it comin’.

After an hour of this class, I felt very tight and toned. It felt great to work my muscles in a new way without fear of bulking them up. My main qualm is that there was very little cardio involved. I really like a good sweat and this didn’t do it for me… especially considering it costs $20 a session.

If you’re interested in a good toning workout, but not cool with the hefty price tag, here are some moves you can do on your own, at home or at the gym. (Thank you SELF magazine!)

Jive Hop
Stand with feet together, arms down. Begin hops: jump onto left foot as you kick right leg to side, reaching left arm up and right arm out to side. On next hop, land on the right foot, kick to left and switch arms. Alternate sides for one minute.

Lunge & Lift
Stand with legs together, arms out to sides at shoulder level. Lunge right leg to side, then bring left leg to meet right as you rise onto the balls of your feet, crossing left leg behind right. Drop heels; do a mini-squat (looks like plies in dance). Repeat lunge-squat sequence on left side. Alternate sides for one minute.

Rumba Reach
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Extend left leg to side, pointing toes to the floor; lift arms overhead, palms in. Bend torso as far left as you can with hips square, reaching through fingertips, then bend right. Alternate sides for one minute. Switch so right leg is extended; repeat for another minute.

Jive Cross
Stand with feet together, arms down. Hop onto ball of right foot, kicking the left leg across your body as high as you can and reaching your arms in the opposite direction at shoulder height. Hop onto left foot and kick right leg across body as you switch arm positions. Alternate sides for one minute.

Samba Squat
Stand with right foot turned out, left leg extended to front, toes pointed to floor, arms crossed over chest. Lower into a squat as you raise right arm overhead and left arm out to side at shoulder level. Return to start. Repeat 30 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Side-Step Trimmer
Stand with feet together, left heel lifted, arms down. Step wide to left, landing with heel lifted, toes turned out and knee bent as you circle left arm up and to the left. Return to start. Repeat 30 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Click this link to see the moves on video.

If you’re like me and need to shake up your exercise regime, these slimming moves will definitely keep you on your toes … literally. Enjoy!!

I’m Pale, Get Over It: A Fair-Skinned Manifesto
I’m Pale, Get Over It: A Fair-Skinned Manifesto
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