In Search of Cross Training Tips + DVDs

PilatesFor the time being, I’ve given up on serious running. Not saying I won’t still hop on the treadmill or the trail every once in awhile, but I’ve given up on the idea of running a half marathon or ten miler (there’s a huge one in Philadelphia–the Broad Street Run). My legs seem to take forever to recover from it.

So now I’m on the hunt for additional ways to cross-train. I plan on using the elliptical machine every once in awhile, but I’m mostly trying to find DVDs and videos that I can do early in the morning (so no longer that 35-40 minutes is preferable).

Currently, I have a copy of an old Pilates for dummies DVD I really enjoy (plus, it’s short at about 30 minutes), a copy of Ballet Beautiful, and some Barre3 DVDS (which I’ve pretty much never touched).

There’s a couple more Pilates DVDs I’ve thought about checking out on Amazon, but for now, I’m looking for recommendations before I purchase anything else I won’t actually end up doing.

What cross-training DVDs or YouTube videos are your favorite? I’ll do a follow up post with what I end up liking! 

 

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Ballet at home- DVDs, YouTube, and Tips

I am starting to feel like there’s an overarching theme to my posts- I’M BUSY! haha. But, to be honest, a big part of my life as a grad student who is also in the beginning stage of an internship is that I don’t have a lot of free time and the free time that I do have is at weird hours. I’m sure there are plenty of ladies and gents who may be reading this can relate to this! One of my favorite ways to get around this issue is to do ballet at home. This can be a real challenge, especially for beginners who haven’t had much experience taking a class. Where do you even begin? Well, luckily I spend the time between classes on YouTube doing mindless searching and have created a nice list for you along with some of my favorite ballet at home tips!

dvdsDVDs

  • “Ballet Class for Beginners with David Howard”. This DVD is my favorite for home ballet. It can be a little bit frustrating because you have to play some parts twice in order to do both sides, but it’s a minor inconvenience in my opinion. I was able to find the DVD on Amazon for about $6 and got it in a matter of days. Smoking deal! It covers a ton of different techniques and the run time is about 40 minutes, but that doesn’t include repeating. What I like about how it comes in chapters is that you can choose to mix and match your workout so that it never has to be exactly the same. 
  • The NYC Ballet Complete Workout. This DVD is less ballet class, more ballet fitness but it has much more ballet in it than most ballet inspired workout videos do. It takes moves like pliés and mixes them in with bicycles and crunches. It’s rough! I have managed to rope my fiancé into doing the videos with me and they even make him sore. The video isn’t necessarily the newest so the video and the music is super cheesy but thankfully you can choose to use the classical music in the startup menu rather than the awful “hip” background music. You can get it here on Amazon. 
  • Ballet Beautiful by Mary Helen Bowers. Holy grail of ballet fitness. The workouts are more based around the idea of sculpting a lean ballet body rather than ballet technique but I find that the workouts greatly improved my posture and technique in class. She has a few different DVDs. I have the “Classic 60 – Minute Workout” (which has since been rebranded as “Total Body Workout”) and “Body Blast”. Both are available here at the Ballet Beautiful website.  The DVD’s consist of approximately 15 minute workouts including two butt series, her bridge series, her famous swan arms series, total body workouts, and more. What I like about this format is that the workouts are totally mix and match-able. You can do 15 minutes of a total body workout, or you can build up to about an hour or more of workouts. It really just depends on what you have time for! Another wonderful asset she provides are her online streaming videos. They are similar to the DVDs but you can have access to them any time you have access to the website.

YouTube

  • Dancing’s technique based and educational videos. These videos are great! They’re made by eHow… Ok, slightly cheesy seeming but they have been so helpful to me. I suck, like bad, at things like rond de jambe and I love being able to watch these videos at home over and over again to see how it’s done and to try it. I have found value in almost all of their ballet videos. There is such a wide variety- warming up, technique, how to care for ballet shoes, how to do your hair.  Click here and start checking it out! 
  • Maestro Greenwood Online Classes. These videos are also really great. They have a lot of technique practice and they include some video with verbal instruction as well as video with just music. I enjoy that because there are times where I just want to hear classical music and copy what I see, but then there are other times where I really want to focus harder on exact technique. I also really appreciate the stretching videos! Click!

General Tips

  • Keep an inner instructor in your head. I try to my best to focus on my technique at home. It can be really hard to make sure you’re doing some things well when you don’t have someone there watching to correct you so try to remind yourself “posture”,  “breathe”, “stomach tight”, etc. Focus on technique because if you keep practicing it incorrectly at home, you may find yourself in a sticky mess when you finally get to a class and it’s twice as hard because you need to forget how to do it the incorrect way and learn to do it the correct way. 
  • Invest in a full length mirror you can move around if you don’t have one. It’s important to be able to see what your body is doing in order to do the step above. There are some pretty affordable mirrors at Target, Walmart, and thrift stores.
  • Build a barre (shameless plug to my DIY post! haha), or use a counter/chair/couch/railing. That extra balance is important, particularly for beginners, in order to help you learn the best technique and also to prevent injury from falling face first into the floor. haha.
  • Try to avoid doing ballet on carpet, it can be a little extra sticky under your feet and cause some tripping/toe injuries. If you do ballet on tile or wood flooring make sure you have proper traction.
  • If you can, try to video even just a portion of your workout… I totally get what some of you may be thinking: AWKWARD, I don’t want to see myself dancing. But I assure you, it will help you get better! You’ll have a nice opportunity to watch back the video and see that this whole time you thought your ronde de jambe was perfect but alas you forget to point your toes in the back! Or maybe you might even find something you’re doing better than you thought you were.

For now, I think that’s all I have for videos and tips but I will be sure to post again when I have more. I hope that you at home ballerinas find this a little bit helpful. Does anyone else have any home ballet tips or favorite videos to use? Let me know in the comments!

-Caysie

Have you ever been to a workout ballet class?

Here in Philadelphia (and in lots of other cities), there are a variety of ballet workout classes, from Pure Barre classes, to classes mixing ballet and pilates to Ballet Xtreme (the class that’s offered at Philadelphia Dance Fitness, where I have a membership). Lately, it seems ballet is becoming a way to become fit through both ballet classes as well as ballet workout classes (especially the Ballet Beautiful series).

While I wasn’t the biggest fan of Ballet Xtreme (rapid ballet movements and jumps done to hip hop and pop music), it was definitely a workout. But when I find I really need to work on perfecting my technique, the class focuses on doing rapid movements, focusing more on the movement and not technique. I definitely want to try it out in the near future (once I spend a while working on technique–which I am in 3 to 4 classes a week) and after I work on strengthening my ankles (all the jumping in the Xtreme class just killed them–so I ended up skipping most of them).

I do, however, want to try out a Pure Barre workout (because they focus on barre work and are supposed to be gentle on your joints, as they contain no jumping), but at $23 a class, I can’t really afford them right now on my current schedule. So, I plan on just doing more workouts from my Ballet Beautiful book (I’ve only done one so far–woops) and attending ballet as usual.

Have you ever tried out a ballet workout  class? Would you recommend them for beginners?

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