Sunday, November 17, 2019

Are Ballet Workouts Effective? The Top Two

Are Ballet Workouts Effective?
That is a question I get a lot from friends. Including older or senior peeps.

The other question I get is:

Which Ballet Workout Benefits Do I Need The Most?

That is a good question, because it leads to why someone would pick a ballet workout over a non-ballet workout.

The ballet body, or the ballerina body, is known mostly for long lean muscles, not a bulked up shape associated with weight lifting and body building.

I discovered Classical Stretch by accident one morning many years ago. I woke up earlier than usual and switched on the television. I had left it on PBS the night before. 

I saw a slim woman using a chair as a barre, and going through some long and stretchy movements. "Oh cool, I could really get into that" I thought. 

I had been doing Yoga (and I still do) but wanted something more challenging. 

As a retired dancer/ballet teacher, it is easy for me to put a good barre workout together, and just do, right?

Yet, ballet is class oriented, with a group, voices, and music. Ballet class in isolation is difficult.

As the shot zoomed in on the woman, I could see it was Miranda, a classmate of mine at The National Ballet School of Canada. No wonder this was so stretchy looking and easy to follow.

That led to me buying my first Classical Stretch DVD, and doing the ballet workouts every few days.

I liked the several DVD's I chose, because they combine shorter and longer workouts, some standing, using a barre, and some mostly mat work.

Here is the first one I got:

The photo is mine, shown with a three pound weight I use. 

This DVD is shown on Amazon (CLICK HERE if you want to view it) and has a pretty high "collector's" price, maybe?

These are well timed shorter workouts.

A Ballet Workout For Seniors 

These days the Essentrics line of workouts is prominent, along with Miranda's "Aging Backwards" book and DVD's, and here is one with 30 episodes, a whole series.

Click on it, you'll go to Amazon to see it, and more. You will see a boxed set of two, which covers posture and bone building. 

A single DVD focuses on mobility and bone strengthening

One of these may match your goals, time allowances for workouts, and your budget.

Bone strengthening and mobility are lead goals in ballet workout benefits, good for seniors and anyone who sits a t a desk job. 

Here is a video, so you can get a peek at how this workout goes.

 Essentrics offers some rigorous workouts. This one is very popular:

Ballet Exercises For Beginners
A ballet workout for beginners could include something like this:

I recommend this for beginners who have started taking an actual ballet class, or for anyone who wants to get started with fitness workouts. These two workouts target muscle strength and mobility. One is standing, one is mat work. 

Ballet is difficult. Yet, it offers:

  1. Strength and mobility
  2. A sense of grace and elegance
  3. Balance
  4. Joint Strength
  5. Improved reflexes
  6. Mental challenge
  7. Emotional fulfillment
Stretching and toning can give you most of these benefits. I'm happy with following the DVD's at home, and sometimes share them with a friend.

You will do what suits your personality, and it is great to have these choices.

 Ballet Barre Pure Barre The Bar Method

"To say the barre trend has heated up in the last 10 years is an understatement. Barre has morphed from a class for nimble dancer-types to become the workout of choice for fitness fiends everywhere—and studios are springing up in droves across the U.S. (and internationally). In fact, Pure Barre has almost 300 locations, while The Bar Method just opened its 82nd studio. Several brands, including Barre3Beyond Barre, and Physique 57 also offer online streaming and on-demand videos. Basically if your neighborhood doesn’t have a barre studio, it’s safe to assume it will soon." - Greatist

Ballet Workouts To Lose Weight

The Barre has much written about it and some of it is controversial. One benefit  stands out in the many articles I found about this routine, and there is much mention that it is one of the best ballet workouts to lose weight. 

Yet (one of the controversies) it gets mentioned by fitness experts, that this ballet-imitating class has very limited cardio. 

Traditionally, cardio has been considered the best weight loss form of exercise.

And that too has been challenged. Proponents of interval training and Slow Burn or Slow Motion exercise insist that engaging the fast twitch muscles causes muscle building and increases metabolism.

You need to be a real seeker these days to find the best workout for you

(When I read the description of The Barre workout movements, I think back to Callanetics, which I first did in the late 80's. The tiny one inch movements in those exercises seem to have been adopted by the popular Barre routine.

Over 300 reviewers give Callanetics a 4.7 Star Rating on Amazon. People who have been doing the routines since the 80's.) 

However the exercise that works is the one that you do! I think that statement was attributed to Edgar Cayce.

Here is a short video about The Barre workout, showing some key movements. 

Both Essentrics (Classical Stretch) and The Barre (Bar) exercises can be found at many locations throughout North America (and perhaps beyond, I haven't looked that far). 

Short workouts can be found at Youtube so you can try many parts of the workouts to see how you like them.

What is your favorite workout? Please do share, just leave your input below. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

How To Get Abs Exercises Right For Ballet

How To Get Abs Exercises Right For Ballet

I remember years ago explaining to my eight year olds how not to suck their belly button in, but to pull it upwards

I didn't try to explain the concentric (shortening) , eccentric (lengthening) and isometric (sustaining the muscle position) contractions to them.

For dancers, here is a video demonstrating the lengthening contraction, even though at first glance at the physio ball portion,it may seem this trainer is doing crunches. 

 To emphasize this lengthening of the abdominal muscles to the younger girls and boys, I would also have them sit on the floor with a straight back. 

Their legs could be comfortable, as I wanted them to feel the isolated abs, with their pelvis in neutral. I also wanted them to feel the pelvis unchanging, in other words, feel their Sit bones on the floor while they pulled their tummy muscles UP.

Deborah Vogel, author of The Body Series newsletter, explains this well to a ballet teacher HERE.

With the children sitting on the floor both I and my assistant could see immediately which of them were doing a crunch instead of a pull-up movement.

The kids could also easily feel that their bones were moving on the floor, and could sense how to pull up without their bones moving.

That made it easier for them to feel their pelvis staying neutral when they stood up, and pulled up.

We were in a studio with only one mirror, in the back corner, which I think is fine for younger children.

This correct use of the abs also helps children to use their turnout muscles without gripping and pulling their buttocks down and in. 

 Advanced Students

When they become advanced, they will then be able to alter their hip placement with deliberation when doing high leg extensions, rather than just losing it, and crunching their abs shorter.

Here is an article on grand battement,  and you'll see while reading that, how the elongated abs will stabilize you in many ballet movements.

Here's a wonderful dance video for seeing great abs control!

If you have to go to youtube to see this, here's the link:

Enjoy your dance classes!

How did you learn about abs in ballet? Please do share!


Thursday, May 9, 2019

How Many Calories Should I Eat In A Day

How many calories should I eat in a day to lose weight?

If you're a teen, please don't ask yourself that question - ever!

I have written a lot about healthy diets, especially for teens, teens in ballet training.

Healthy weight control diets don't involve restricting calories.

 Eat The Right Calories 

Don't bother counting them,

I was delighted to read an article in Pointe Magazine about delayed puberty in dancers.

" During puberty, you may have to adjust to inconvenient changes: normal weight gain, a bigger chest, wider hips, acne, pubic hair, body odors, plus a new clumsiness that can suddenly emerge as your body develops. In addition, dancers' bodies are under extra scrutiny, as late adolescence often coincides with their first auditions or early career."

Weight control is different from weight loss. You are inevitably going to gain weight as you grow as your bone mass increases, your muscles grow to catch up with your bones, and your hormones fluctuate.

As a teen ballet student, you should focus on nutrition. You don't need to count calories if you eat plenty of:

  • High quality protein (fresh meats/fish)
  • Fresh vegetables and salads
  • Omega 3 fatty acid bearing nuts for snacks and "the crunch factor"
  • Butter and cheeses

If you can get organic and pasture-fed sourced foods, all the better. Herbicides and pesticides are hormone mimickers and can throw your balance off.

What you can restrict is:

  • Breads
  • Crackers
  • Sweets
  • Pastas
  • All grains

Notice I said restrict, not deprive!

If you are chubby and can't stay slim, get some blood tests for your hormones. You may be hypothyroid, or have some other condition that you can fix.

Puberty isn't easy. You go through growth spurts - and yay! "Im losing weight!" 

Then your growth will wane for a while and suddenly you realize you're a little rounder.

That is when you can restrict the calorie-laden breads, sweets etc. Puberty is

 " The process is dictated by hormones that affect both your body and mind. While these hormones may be vilified for increasing the curves of your body and altering your moods, they make it possible for you to build up adequate bone mass and eventually bear children."

You can read the whole article HERE.

When I was a twenty year old teacher at the National Ballet School I had a dancer friend (also twenty) who was shocked to find out she was pregnant. She got that way not through carelessness, but because she had never had periods. So she wasn't using birth control.

She ended up miscarrying because she didn't have the hormone levels to complete the pregnancy.

She also had gone through puberty while training intensively and staying very thin.

I am also happy to see that Candace Thompson, the author of the Pointe article mentions calcium and Vitamin D supplementation. These are important for bone building.

Please teens, stay healthy!

Effective diet habits will keep you as thin as you want to be, with healthy hormones and no danger from stress fractures.

Eating healthy fats will also contribute to your brain power and good moods.

Eating well will contribute to a sustained career in ballet, and for you young ladies, healthy pregnancies when you're ready for those.

To your health!

D. Buxton is a writing partner with Vone Deporter, of The Sedona Series, about a surfer girl in pointe shoes.

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Brain Memory Processing Speed And Dance!

Brain Memory Processing Speed And Dance!

According to a post at the Sharpbrains blog dancing helps preserve brain function!

You can read it HERE
So let us all keep dancing peeps!

That's all for now - just wanted to mention their post.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Best Fats For Weight Loss

 Best Fats For Weight Loss

In his new book Fat For Fuel, Dr. Joseph Mercola outlines how a ketogenic diet, tells you dancers how to use the best fats for weight loss. This diet is very low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats, is the way to optimize the biochemical pathways that suppress disease and support healing.

When mitochondria (our energy producing cellular factories) become damaged in large numbers, it is impossible to stay healthy.

Specific to teen dancers, I wrote this post today about

How Many Calories Should I Eat In A Day

Benefits of A Ketogenic Diet

  • Treat or prevent serious illness
  • Boost your brainpower/mental clarity
  • Increase your energy
  • Help you lose weight and keep it off
  • Keep your biochemical pathways operating at top efficiency
Get Your Copy!

 Don't Wait Decades For This Eating Style To Become "Metabolic Therapy"! 

It's just eating, right?

As you read this book, you’ll learn in clear, rational terms how your body works at a molecular level.

You’ll finally understand the type of fuel it’s designed to burn in the most efficient way possible.

You’ll find detailed guidelines for starting and sticking with a ketogenic eating plan.

And you won’t have to wait a decade or two for metabolic mitochondrial therapy to make its way into the mainstream. You can build a healthier body and brain at the cutting edge of this exciting new discipline, starting right now.

Check out the editorial reviews here:
  • Christiane Northrup, M.D
  •  Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D
  •  David Perlmutter, M.D., F.A.C.N.
  •  Leo Galland, M.D.
  •   Ron Rosedale, M.D

And many more uber-qualified doctors, and medical journalists.

This is brand new but I expect the good reviews to be rolling in soon!

I've written about Keto Diet Meals HERE.

I also recommend Dr. Mercola's Effortless Healing.

  To your dancing health!

 D. Buxton is a writing partner with Vone Deporter, of The Sedona Series, about a surfer girl in pointe shoes.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Wear Demi Poine Shoes?

  "Should I Wear Demi Pointe Shoes?"

Lisa Howell, author of The Perfect Pointe Book, weighs in on the benefits of demi pointe shoes.

"My personal preference is actually to use broken down pointe shoes of the same style as they use en pointe, rather than specifically designed "demi-pointe" shoes. For instance, one a student has broken down the shank of their first pair, the shank may be removed, and this shoe used for parts of their normal class. This helps them gain more proprioceptive feedback about what it is like to stand in those particular shoes".


I was trained to use worn out pointe shoes as soft shoes. It was very economical, but also good for the foot muscles.

I mean, when are your feet strong enough, if ever?

I remember pulling the shank out of many pointe shoes, and sometimes having to pull out a nail or file down the grainy glue with an emory board. I could also press the fabric cover of the shank back in.

The Benefits Of Not Using Demi Pointe Shoes

 Ultimately, the shank can be left in if you want to really challenge those foot muscles.If you value progress over the immediate ease of "pointing your shoe", you will.

Why throw away a piece of your shoe that's going to make you strong?

Lisa Howell  brings up a good point about 'claw toes' or toe curling in the ballet shoes. Wearing satin, slightly stiffened quasi-pointe shoes can hide from your teacher exactly what your toes are doing in the shoe.

Curling, instead of lengthening the toes and following the line of your arch, prevents the development of good forefoot muscles.

I wrote in detail about the forefoot muscles HERE.

I would discourage students from wearing split sole shoes. Why? Again, you've removed a piece of the shoe that requires extra effort from your foot muscles.

I honestly think that demi pointe shoes are a marketing issue. Dance is so huge now. When I was performing it was still a subculture.

I don't disparage the glut of dancewear and choices in pointe shoes for all foot types, no not at all. But I'll repeat myself - (click HERE for the full article) you must get your feet in charge of the shoes, and not the other way around.

And don't forget that extra sole-of-the-foot strength and forefoot strength will improve your allegro too!

Here's a video showing how to use the correct muscles when you point your feet!

D. Buxton is a writing partner with Vone Deporter, of The Sedona Series, about a surfer girl in pointe shoes.

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Creating Your Brand As A Dancer

Creating Your Brand As A Dancer

Or as a teacher, a studio, a company, a free lance group, a choreographer, a dance writer...I'm about half way through the book The Artist's Compass:
The Complete Guide to Building a Life and a Living in the Performing Arts by Rachel S. Moore.

Released May 3, 2016, it has three reviews on, all five stars. I will add mine when I've finished the book, but I want to write about it here first so I can say Get It Now!

Did I ever need this book thirty years ago! And you young dancers, even if still in High School, you need it now!

Your parents need to read it too!

Chock full of great advice from years of experience! From early dance training to joining a company, dealing with unions, agents and...sadly, injury, Ms. Moore went on to study and work in arts management. To quote her -

"While performing artists have many educational opportunities to perfect their craft, they are often on their own when it comes to learning the business skills necessary to launch their careers. At the end of the day, show business is, well, a business."

Click on the book to read the rest of the description and about Ms. Moore's fascinating bio!

As a retired dancer and now writer (working on a series of novels about a surfer girl in pointe shoes, more here) with a writing partner, I need this book now, too.

Learning all about Social Media and how to work it and apply it properly and generously every day is gruelling! When will there be time to write?

If I were still teaching I would feel the same way - when will I do those class plans? Choreograph? Take the girls to a pointe shoe fitting?

Not that I haven't been using social media for years, but no plotting and planning has been involved. 

This book is suitable for anyone who needs branding for any reason - peeps in the Fine Arts, film, writers...anything! 

I'll add more to this when I've finished it. Get yours!!

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