I do not like the gym. In fact, I have never really enjoyed exercising. I am 39 and a busy mother of two children and it is hard for me to find the time to exercise, especially when I’m not particularly motivated to do so!
However, a few years ago I sustained a shoulder injury and my physiotherapist suggested it would be beneficial to find a Pilates class to help with my posture. I attended a few yoga and Pilates classes but didn’t really enjoy them and could not motivate myself to stick with it. Months passed and I was still experiencing a lot of discomfort with my shoulder and my range of movement was becoming very limited.
Then I tried Ballet Body (Sarah’s local class). I met Sarah at my son’s school and she explained to me that the classes were suitable for all levels of fitness and any body shape and that previous dance experience was not necessary. Sarah encouraged me to give it a go, despite my reservations. I had never danced before and had no experience of ballet (apart from watching week at my daughters toddler ballet class!).
I was very nervous attending my first class. I had images of the rest of the class being super fit and skinny and I was sure I was going to stick out like a sore thumb. I have a mild fear of exercising in front of other people because I am so self-conscious about my body and the way I move. What if I was wearing the wrong clothes? What if I fell over? What if everyone stared at me because I had no idea what I was doing? What if I simply couldn’t do the exercises? I didn’t really know what to expect. At the time, I was overweight and unfit and I was particularly self-conscious about my body shape.
However, my first class went rather well. I made sure I stayed at the back of the class so I could see what everyone was doing but Sarah was so welcoming and explained everything very clearly. And I didn’t have a problem with performing any of the exercises (apart from feeling the burn!). Sarah was aware of my shoulder complaint and she let me know if she thought it unwise to do certain moves and gave me alternatives and would check I was not pushing myself too much. And no-body stared at me! They were all concentrating so much on what they were doing that I was able to focus on my body and not get distracted with what others were doing. That is the beauty of these classes. It gives you a real connection with your body and an awareness of how you move.
Within weeks of attending Ballet Body classes my physio commented on my improved posture. As an added bonus I enjoyed the classes, which is the biggest battle for me. This has meant I have continued with the classes because I am now motivated to improve and become stronger and more flexible.
Sarah’s classes are not ballet classes. It is not dancing. You do not need to be thin, particularly coordinated, or super fit to join in. Sarah ensures that people work within their body’s capabilities, so if you are fit, you can push harder and choose to do the more advanced version of the move. I describe the classes to friends as the exercises the dancers do behind the scenes to keep flexible and strong. Unlike some classes, even as a beginner I could do the majority of the exercises without looking like the unfit one at the back! Now two years on (and 23 pounds lighter) I sometimes even brave the front of the class! Sarah explains moves clearly, where you should be feeling the stretch and the benefits of the move. Her classes are relaxed and friendly.
After a break for surgery on my shoulder I soon went back to class as I missed it and Sarah helped me back to fitness. My body is so much more flexible and toned and my core muscles have improved so much. I think ballet is beneficial for everyone. You may choose to attend HIIT classes, or do a gym workout for additional fat burn but whilst Sarah’s classes are high intensity, they are low impact and strengthen your muscles, which benefits any other exercise you do.
Ballet Body has made me enjoy my body again. I have realised it is never too late to get back into shape. Since starting classes again I have gained so much more body confidence and it has helped me overcome my fear of exercising in public.
I am so excited that Sarah has now launched Breaking Ballet. An online programme means more people can benefit from ballet inspired exercise. With Sarah’s guidance and encouragement throughout the programme, people will hopefully have the courage to give it a go and, like me, become a ballet convert.
Sarah is the founder of Breaking Ballet, a unique fitness course using classical technique. Click here to find out more.
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