There is nothing better than stepping into your adult ballet class after a long week and letting go of the day-to-day grind. The bliss of the music and the joy of working with like-minded companions is enough to reset your body and spirit. But are you getting as much from your adult ballet class as possible? It’s important to work well in the studio and give 100% but without a healthy body your ballet class will only go so far. The journey to respecting your adult ballet body can start in the studio, but should also be a part of your everyday life.
A healthy body is the goal that we all strive for. Eating a balanced diet and fueling your body properly is paramount to getting through not just your adult ballet class, but also life in general, with energy to spare. Eating properly gives a sense of wellbeing, which is an important part of overall health. The ballerina ideal is not required for your adult ballet classes, but a well-fueled body, the best body that you have, is an absolute must.
Adequate sleep is next on the hit list. It’s so easy to let those evening hours slip away until the clock is striking twelve and you’re doing a Cinderella dash to get to bed. Many studies report that adequate sleep maintains a sharp memory, a clear mind and a positive attitude. Sleeping is the time when your body, especially your muscles, repair and when your brain catalogues the day’s information, clears out the excess toxins and lays down memory. Ballet is so much more than just moving through space; we need to think so our brains need to be healthy too.
Too often students walk into the ballet studio without warming up and then fly out the door after class without properly stretching out muscles. This is detrimental for any dancer’s body but especially for an adult ballet body. A proper warm up for your adult ballet class can be done in as little as ten minutes and the benefits are far reaching. Regularly warming up will keep your body in a healthy state and reduce the risk of injury. Warming up also helps to prepare and focus your mind, which in turn benefits your performance in class.
Stretching at the end of class gives your muscles relief and allows your body time to cool down before your head out the door. The ballet studio is a tough place for your muscles! It makes sense to gently stretch them after a vigorous workout. Giving your muscles even five minutes of recovery time before you leave the studio will result in a healthier body. All stretching should be carried out with care and any questions should be directed towards your teacher.
Warming up and stretching are important for physical maintenance, but sometimes a little extra is required. A once a month massage would be ideal, but if that’s not an option for you, then a trusty tennis ball and a rolling pin are all you need to help ease out those muscles. Lying on a tennis ball and allowing your muscle to relax around it will help to relieve tightness. This is especially good for your back and buttocks. Taking to your legs with a rolling pin may seem a little extreme, but a gentle rolling action across your thighs and calf muscles will help to smooth out small niggles. Anything more than muscle soreness should be given proper attention by your physiotherapist.
Respecting your ballet body is essential in the studio. Adult ballet students start or return to ballet for many different reasons, but once in the studio it is important to always strive for the best that your body can do. This doesn’t mean the highest leg or the longest balance without consideration of technique. A thoughtful approach to class, with particular care taken for accurate alignment in your body, will help you to develop strength in your muscles. Correct muscle engagement will improve your technique and performance in class as well as keeping your muscles healthy.
A lot of thinking takes place in the ballet class and the power of thought should never be underestimated! Keeping a positive attitude towards your adult ballet body can sometimes be tricky, especially when trying to master a new step or a difficult combination! Staying positive during these moments will help to remove undue pressure, often with good results. Frustration is the natural enemy of your ballet body! Being kind to yourself and perseverance is the healthy approach to working through difficulties in your ballet class.
Adult ballet is truly one of the joys in life. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, thinking positively and caring for your body inside (and outside) of the studio are the hallmarks of respecting the body you have and ensuring longevity as an adult dancer.