Ballet-Fit Workout: Develop Strength, Control, Flexibility & Grace

Paula Baird-Colt, Megan Connelly and David McAllister Ulysses Press/Raincoast Books

Just in time to help me stretch out the kinks in my poor screwed-up spine, this book fell into my not-so-graceful paws. I think everyone would love to have the grace and lithe stance of a dancer, and the further away some of us are, the more we try, so I gave it a go.

Ballet-Fit Workout is more a series of calisthenics and yoga/pilates type moves with a lot of stretches at the end than a workout per se (at least if you’re stuck in the only cardio and weights rut). Don’t expect to be learning ballet so much as the specific exercises used in ballet. You don’t necessarily feel you’re doing anything when you go through the program, yet after a few weeks, the results creep up on you. My flexibility is rapidly coming back, my strength is increasing, and as for the grace, well, maybe some day it’ll come too.

For me, the most beneficial segment of the book was the stretching section, which had lots of stretches for hard to release muscles, like the iliopsoas and biceps. There were also a few for more common tension areas like the low back, but even these were mostly new stretches I hadn’t heard of before, and all helped.

All in all, Ballet-Fit Workout has proven itself to be a great adjunct to the Pilates, yoga, and dance I already do. Almost makes me want to take it further and make a fool of myself in a tutu in the nearest ballet class I can find. Almost.