Guest Post: Finding the Right Studio

Caysie face pictureUnfortunately over the week I seem to have developed a bit of a chest cold that prevented me from going to dance (among other things). What’s with this summer cold business?? Anywho, I was hoping to post a nice tutorial blog with photos of a DIY stand alone barre that I made before I started feeling unwell but because I am not up to setting up to do the pics for that post, it will have to wait until next week. Why even tell you, you ask? Perhaps then maybe you’ll be motivated to check back because that DIY barre is a life saver for a busy lady like myself who just wants a 20 minute tendu sesh here and there. Now that I’ve dangled that like a carrot in front of your face (mwahaha), I’ll get on to my post for this week which is a bit inspired by the lovely Queen Michelle at Kingdom of Style, but a more beginner focused version.

I’m currently in the process of switching studios because the one I currently go to is so far away. I figured that since finding a studio/class and going to the first class is a huge hurdle for a lot of adults who want to begin ballet but haven’t yet I’d write about that process. I’ll address some of the most important concerns I first had myself.

1. I’m going to look like an idiot. Ok. So this fear of mine really was the absolute biggest I had that stopped me from starting up a class.  It’s hard to start something if you have little to no experience with it. You can be nervous that people will laugh at you or that you’ll be the center of attention cause you can seem to EVER get into first position. I have tested the waters with a few classes and can tell you, from personal experience, that this is 95% of the time not the case. Adult beginner classes are just that- BEGINNER. Even if you don’t know a plié from a piqué, it’s unlikely that anyone will judge you for it. You’re there to learn and build these skills just like everyone else. From my experience it’s just been an hour of laughing and commiserating because no one is perfect! We all have our “looking silly” moments, and you know what… it’s ok that it’s funny because it’s fun!

2. I have no idea what studio is the best fit. This one has the easiest solution: try them all! Many studios offer the first class for free or allow you to come watch for free. If you’re concerned with fit of the style of class and the instructor, it’s always a very good idea to check it out. Sometimes you’ll love it, sometimes you won’t but HEY! it was a free ballet class and that never sucks!

3. I’m nervous about the other people in the class being WAY better than me, judging me, or being cliquey. This one is a little similar to the first but not quite the same. This was a big concern for me for my first few classes. I’d arrive early, sitting in the lobby stretching and no one would talk to me. It was a weird feeling to be on the outside. I’d look around and see some women in their 40’s talking about their daughters’ recitals and having a hard time stretching. Then I’d see a 16 year old who could not possibly be in my class (just look at her with her perfect ballet bun in the front splits reading a school book!). Then I see a 60 year old woman with her leg stretched over her head in the corner. I am like absolutely none of these ladies. How on earth do I belong here?! Let me tell you how we ALL belong here- we love ballet. After class begins each time, any sort of social barrier gets left at the door and we all have a great time focusing on our technique, stretching together, and joking around. Moral of this story is: you may meet some friends at ballet, but if you don’t that is OK too. You’re there for dance and in the end that is what will unite you!

4. I don’t have time! This is something that I still struggle with when it comes to ballet. I find myself tempted after a busy week and when I know that I have lots of homework to skip ballet (whether at home, using a video, or in a studio). We’re all busy but it’s really important to make time to take care of your mind and body and ballet is great for me to do both. I fought myself for hours last week whether or not I was going to go to class. I was grumpy the whole way there. But about 10 minutes into class, I forgot about being busy and just enjoyed moving. So, if ballet is for you then make time! Even if its just 30 minutes at home or an hour of class a week. On occasion if I’m particularly busy or if I’m traveling, I just squeeze in a 15 min Ballet Beautiful workout along with some stretching.

Hopefully that covers some of the fears some of you may be having about starting a ballet class or about being in one. If there are any other things you can think of, I’d love to hear them in the comments and we can talk about them as well! I’d also love to hear any ideas about what you’d like to hear about from the beginner perspective, I’m open to it all! Again I apologize for the lack luster post due to my being sick, but I promise I’ll make it up to you with that DIY barre post when I’m better.

Reaching My First Ballet Milestone: One Year (Again!) with Ballet

Roughly 15 years ago, I was a little ballerina, ecstatic to be receiving a perfect attendance trophy for attending every ballet class of the year during my first year of ballet at our year end recital. Seems crazy, right? Two years later, I quit after I switched to a new studio.

Now, 15 years later, I’ve completed my first year of ballet again. Except this time, there’s no perfect attendance trophy  (although my attendance was far from perfect), no year end recital, no moving up in class level. But, it has been worth it.

I never thought when I first walked into the studio in my brand new ballet shoes a year ago I’d ever be in love with ballet the way I am today.

No, I don’t have perfect splits yet.

Yes, I still stumble over my own two feet.

No, I can’t dance en pointe yet.

Yes, it has been tough.

But it’s been worth it.

Ballet is tough, and although to an outsider it may seem like I haven’t improved much in a years time, I can tell I’ve come a long way. My pirouettes are almost there and my tendus don’t look nearly as sloppy as they used to. I’m improving. Slowly, but surely.

I’m hoping the next year brings more ballet classes. More ballet friends. More improvement.

More fun.

Although my future is uncertain–I graduate in May and don’t know where I’ll end up–although I hope to stay in Philadelphia because of all the wonderful things it offers (including a plethora of ballet classes)–wherever I end up, whatever I end up doing–I know it’ll include ballet.

How do you  celebrate milestones in your training?


My First 5k and Some Shin Splint Tips

My boyfriend and I just signed up for our first 5k–well his first 5k and my first “real” 5k. I ran a Color Me Rad 5k last June which wasn’t timed and wasn’t really a 5k–it was more like 2.7 miles. We’ll be doing the Catch Karl 5k in University City on April 7th. It was a cheap 10 dollars to sign up–which was a super important reason for us since we’re broke college students. The race benefits Camp Kesem, a free week-long camp for children whose parents have or had cancer. Karl is the camp’s caterpillar mascot. It’ll be a nice easy commute via public transportation from my apartment which should make the early time we have to wake up a bit more bearable.


From last year’s ColorMeRad Race taken by my BFF Sarah

Something I’ve had to keep in mind while training for running is shin splints. I ended up with a really bad case in late January/February from ballet and had to take some time off, so I’ve tried to be really careful as I go back to ballet and work out in other ways.

One of the best ways I’ve managed it is stretching and icing. You can find more information on some stretches  from Self Magazine. Other stretches I’ve done that have been so helpful include using my therabands to stretch my foot in a flexed position as well as the yoga position downward facing dog. These stretches will also be helpful in stretching out your calf muscles if your ballet instructor as been throwing a whole bunch of calf straining barre combinations at you like mine has been.

How do you stretch out your calf muscles and shin splints?

PS. My blog and I were featured on Fit Approach’s blog in the Ambassador Spotlight. I love being part of this program, and if your interested, they’re currently accepting applications to be a #SweatPink Ambassador.

Back to the Barre

After over a month of sitting around (trust me, it’s been killing me), I FINALLY get to go back to ballet tonight. As excited as I am, I’m also super nervous. It feels like forever since I’ve been at a barre and that my body will have forgotten everything.


amethyst (Photo credit: McBeth)

Things like….

What if I forget some of the moves?

What if I can’t keep up anymore?

What if I’m in pain again?

…keep running through my mind.

I know I’ll make it through the class just fine (my teacher is super supportive and so are the women I take ballet with!) but I tend to be a nervous nellie. I’ve returned from long gaps between classes before, and I know I’ll work myself back up to the level I was at before. Unfortunately things like jumps (even though I hate them anyway) and pointe are probably out of the question for a while–but I’m still excited to be back in a ballet studio!

I’ll post an update with how the class went tomorrow!

How do you get yourself prepared to return to an athletic activity you haven’t done for a while?


Ballet Emergency Bag

Band-Aid Braille

Just a quick post today.

Last night I stumbled upon the idea of a “Ballet Emergency Bag.” I got the idea from Musings about Dance, a blog by a Philly dancer and choreographer. You should check out her awesome post here about the emergency bag her husband made her. While I don’t really have an emergency bag, I certainly stuff certain things into my ballet bag, such as KT Tape, ice packs, and a spare pair of legwarmers. Her post has inspired me to put one together rather than just stuffing random items into my bag when I think I might need them.

What would be in your ballet emergency bag?

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