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The importance of ballet and the benefits of making it part of your training and lifestyle

Ballet is a great form of exercise in many aspects. It provides building up strength in areas such as flexibility, co-ordination, balancing, agility and jumping. It is also a great way to make you aware of your body and which areas need working on.


ballet dancers


There is traditional ballet training, specifically aimed for ballet dancers, whose aim is to do this art form as a profession, and then there are also many dance places that offer open adult ballet classes for people of all age and abilities. For those of you from the West Midlands, such classes are offered at DanceXChange in Birmingham city centre, along with many other styles of dancing.


dance class


6 Differences you will see after taking up ballet lessons:


• Improved stamina
• Improved motor skills
• Improvement of posture and body alignment
• Improvement of balance, flexibility and strength
• An increase in confidence
• Calorie loss


Mental & Physical Health


Ballet has also proved to be a useful asset for people suffering with Parkinson’s and dementia, as these can cause a decrease in stability and coordination, muscle rigidity and tremors (Pederson, Berg, Larsson, & Lindval, 1997). Further symptoms can also often lead to psychological and social concerns, such as lower self-esteem, less social interaction and depression (Cummings, 1992).


Many establishments have been created in the UK with the aim of improving the mental and physical health of people who suffer from dementia/parkinson’s and many others, and it is an ever-growing community with astonishing results.


Through ballet and dancing, these lessons address problems related to mobility, stability, movement confidence, as well as promoting well-being. Many studies have found that such skills have indeed shown a short term improvement in the discussed areas.



Aside from all the benefits in the mind and body ballet lessons provide, another bonus is the social aspect. Children and adults can both benefit from making friendships outside of the school/workplace, surrounded by people with similar aims and interests, creating friendships that will last a lifetime.


Benefits of ballet in sport


Aside from the benefits ballet offer on a day to day well-being, ballet also takes a vital role in many sportspeople’s’ training. Some you could probably guess, however others may come as a surprise and may even shock you. The thought of sports using ballet as part of their training may at first seem ludicrous, however the science behind this may cause you to rethink whether what you believed about ballet in relation to other sports is true.


Artistic & Rhythmic Gymnastics


Both Artistic and Rhythmic gymnasts use ballet as part of their training, as a way to enhance their performance. As both sports require strength, flexibility and agility, and use exercises such as jumping, spinning and balancing throughout their routines, ballet serves as a great tool for those gymnasts. Body alignment and posture is another benefit for gymnasts who use ballet as part of their training.


figure skatingFigure Skating


Again, very similar to rhythmic gymnastics, figure-skaters use majority of the skills you would find in gymnastics and acrobatics. Aside from the technique side acquired with ballet training, one of the key skills focuses on finding your centre of gravity. This skill is even more crucial with figure skaters, due to the fact that the elements they perform are executed on the ice. Therefore, it is a requirement for skaters to have good balance awareness, as the risks of injury double on the surface of the ice.


Synchronised swimming & diving


synchronised swimmingBoth synchronised swimmers and divers have been known to use ballet as part of their training. When you think of the two, ballet and the respective sports do not seem to have any similarities, however if you spend some time and consider how this could be a benefit to the above sports, you may find that it makes sense how ballet could be beneficial for those athletes. In many ways, synchronised swimming also shares many similarities with gymnastics. Both require strength, flexibility, stamina, correct body alignment, posture and must look aesthetically graceful and effortless. The only major difference would be that one is executed in a pool.



male diverHow could ballet benefit divers you ask? Taking a look at the pictures presented, we see divers executing different exercises mid-dive. Divers on the top two images are in the middle of executing a spin mid-air, before making the dive in to the pool. The divers on the last image, again mi-dive, are creating a pike position.


All these skills require elements which ballet could aid in. The co-ordination and flexibility of the torso, required to femlae diverallow the movement into the spin, and then the flexibility to hit that pike position are all part of the foundations which are enlisted in ballet training.














Football Basketball Rugby Hockey


Now, how the above sports may benefit from ballet training might be harder to swallow, as how could ballet possibly benefit a rugby or hockey player.


All of the above sports require speed, agility, flexibility and use all the same muscle groups that are trained and worked on during a ballet class.


Ballet teaches students from a young age how to make full use of the foot. Step by step, ballet dancers learn how to jump, balance and pirouette effortlessly in the correct manner in order to prevent injuries from incorrect use of the muscles in the feet, legs and of the upper body. Athletes in the above sports, lacking this knowledge, tend make incorrect use of the foot and of the lateral side of the calves. This leads to many injuries, which with the correct training could be prevented.


Believe it or not, this is not just a theory. Many athletes in the respective sports have been known to attend a ballet class or two as part of their training. Footballer Rio Ferdinand is a prime example of this. Having taken ballet lessons as a child, Ferdinand leant from a young age how to execute leaping and landing with the correct technique and use of the foot. Having the correct technique decreases the risk of ankle sprains, which is a high risk when players land from jumps. Ensuring correct landing prevents the foot from rolling over the lateral edge, reducing the risk of damage to the cartilage. Lessons can also be sport specific, to ensure the athletes are working the desired areas.


USA basketball and rugby players have also been known to participate in ballet lessons, as all require to be quick on their feet, be able to jump high and stick a landing, spin, be agile and have good co-ordination. Sound familiar? Ask yourself these questions:


• When would a football player be required to spin?
• When would a basketball or rugby player be required to jump?
• What would a hockey player be required to have in order to skate?


fun factBallet as a strength- and endurance-building regime has a long history: Originating in the 16th century as an exclusively male pursuit, it was used to train men in the arts of war – fencing, jousting and military discipline.




Below you can watch a couple of videos and hear from the athletes themselves about how ballet has benefited them, and how it has helped them in their sporting careers.


american footballers
american footballers ballet



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