Why Older Women Should Warm Up to Barre

If you haven’t stepped foot near a barre since childhood, read this… Ballet might not seem like an obvious choice of exercise for adults – most of us associate the dance either with little girls mastering first position, or professional ballet dancers pirouetting around the stage. However, an increasing number of older women are turning to ballet and ballet-inspired fitness classes to keep them in shape during adulthood, and there are plenty of good reasons to do so.

Why is ballet good for us as we age?

As women age, they see a decline in bone density-building estrogen. It’s important to perform resistance exercises that help build bone density, particularly after the menopause. Ballet-based classes are great, as the bodyweight is manipulated to create resistance without putting a strain on joints. In fact, the exercise can actually be beneficial for joints – the flexibility involved in ballet mobilizes them, creating more freedom and painless movement. There are plenty of opportunities to try adult beginners ballet – a quick Google search should reveal those available in your local area. Ballet classes increase muscle tone, core strength, and flexibility, as well as giving you a greater appreciation for self-expression and music. It’s important to work with a well-qualified ballet teacher who will ensure classes are taught safely, are well-balanced, and are suitably structured for adult learners. The reason for this is to prevent injury. ‘In a traditional ballet class, the classic foot positions used to require an unnatural turn-out in the hips, which those who have not been dancing from a young age don’t have the ability to achieve. If attending a traditional class, it’s best to keep the foot positions more narrow to avoid injury to the knees, hips, and ankles.

What’s the alternative to traditional ballet?

If a full-blown ballet lesson isn’t what you’re after, then ballet-inspired workouts are another popular choice. Ballet fitness fusion classes are suitable for anybody, even those with no previous dance experience. The great thing about barre classes is that they suit anyone who wants the body of a dancer, whether they danced as a child or have never sported a tutu before. The beauty of barre workouts is that no matter what your fitness or flexibility level, you can be challenged to your personal max. Some newcomers worry that they will not be coordinated enough, or that their body will shake and quiver as they do the exercises – classes aren’t hugely choreographed which means they’re easy to follow, and that “shake” is the whole point of barre fitness. No one in the room is judging anyone else! The exercises involved strengthen core muscles, improve your cardiovascular fitness, and sculpt each muscle group – helping you get closer to that enviably toned body of a dancer.