If you’ve been doing Pilates for a while and are looking for a little variety in your practice, why not try the latest fad that’s sweeping Pilates studios? Pilates-ballet fusion classes are all the rage at the moment.
Ballet dancers have long been drawn to Pilates for body conditioning. Now, with a surge in popularity of Pilates-ballet fusion classes, it seems that Pilates practitioners are also being drawn to ballet.
I spoke recently with Amy Brown, owner of Pilates for Life — a Toronto-based studio that offers a popular class called Core Ballet — about this trend.
How does a Pilates-ballet fusion class differ from a regular Pilates class?
A fusion class usually includes ballet choreography, and incorporates ballet foot and arm positions into the Pilates exercises. This challenges the students to utilize different muscle groups while still maintaining the core principles of a Pilates practice. With the use of ballet moves, classes tend to have increased variety, as well as a more fluid flow from exercise to exercise.
Why do you think there’s an interest in Pilates classes that include ballet moves?
There has always been a strong tie between Pilates and ballet. Both disciplines create long, lean, strong and flexible muscles, and many ballerinas do Pilates when they are not dancing.
In Pilates we use our own body weight (or light weighted balls or thera-bands) as resistance. As a result, the exercises tone the body while creating strength and flexibility without adding bulk. Flexibility is also vital for ballerinas, as they need a maximum amount of mobility as they dance.
Pilates is fabulous for muscle flexibility and length, because the exercises are designed to avoid shortening or tightening the muscles. If practiced two to three times per week, Pilates can help clients achieve the long, lean, toned look of a ballerina.
Do you need previous ballet experience to try this type of class?
Absolutely not! You don’t need to be a dancer to participate. The addition of ballet techniques simply enhances the Pilates exercises. And well-trained instructors will offer modifications or demonstrate varying levels of difficulty for the exercises.
The marriage of the two disciplines — Pilates and ballet — sounds like a natural fit. So, if you’re a regular Pilates practitioner, adding a ballet twist to your Pilates routine might be a refreshing and challenging way to invigorate your exercise regime.
Annabel Fitzsimmons is a freelance writer, runner, yoga and Pilates teacher and a mother of two young children. Her online yoga, Pilates and meditation studio is at http://www.annabelfitzsimmons.ca/. She blogs — as MeditatingMummy — about taking yoga off the mat and into motherhood.