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My Pilates Journey: Dusting Off the Ballet Shoes

27th June 2018

From the age of three till sixteen, I attended ballet classes every week. I was fit as a flea and had phenomenal posture. This is a major reason why I was initially drawn to Pilates – there’s a degree of similarity in the type of movement and many dancers use Pilates as a way to build their strength and prevent injury, so the two are closely linked.

Because I had danced from such a young age, I really took for granted how fit it kept me. This only became fully apparent once I stopped – my fitness levels plummeted, and my posture drooped. I tried various alternatives to fill the gap, but nothing quite worked. Going to the gym is fine, as is running, but it can be a bit lonely and tedious after a while. I think that’s probably why all my valiant attempts to start a proper fitness routine have more or less failed thus far.

I really missed the process of going to a class with other people, where everything is planned and where the teacher is paying close attention to you, giving encouragement and making adjustments (often using all sorts of weird and wonderful metaphors to get you to move your body in the right way).

I had heard of BarreConcept, some time ago, and had always wanted to try it. So I was delighted when I found out that Bälans runs the classes. BarreConcept was designed by fitness expert, Pilates instructor and former ballet dancer Emma Newham, making use of the ballet barre and incorporating exercises from each of her various areas of expertise. Many top-level international athletes, including footballers and cricketers, swear by it.

(Fun fact: Joakim was the UK’s first certified male BarreConcept instructor. Breaking those gender stereotypes – way to go!)

Now I have completed three BarreConcept classes and I love it – the first with Joakim and the next two with Laura (who is on the Lolita’s Legacy Comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training course here at Bälans – I’m looking forward to being her guinea pig in the next few weeks when she’s practising her teaching on the Reformers).

Joakim’s class was energetic and tough (especially as I followed it up with Fitdankbaby 15 minutes later) and boy did my body feel it.

Laura’s class was equally fantastic. Laura is the same age as me and my first class with her was (amazingly) only the second time she had taught BarreConcept. If she hadn’t mentioned it, you’d never have known – the class was super and flowed beautifully, involving lots of familiar ballet movements (plié, grand battement, tendu, relevé, attitude), but with a bit more focus on feeling the burn than on the choreography and graceful movement. And the music was really groovy too – doing pliés in time to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack was a particular highlight.

What with all the classes I’ve done so far (19 and counting), I’m really starting to notice that some of my old dancer’s posture, core strength and good alignment is returning. And it’s fantastic! I’ve even dug out my old ballet shoes and started wearing them to the barre class.

09:30 Friday BarreConcept is going to become regular fixture for me from now on!

P.S. If you don't know who I am, here's where you can find out!


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