Ballet May Be the Fix to Your WFH Back Issues
It's time to incorporate a few plies into your workout routine.
If you're one of the millions of people who've worked from home since the start of the pandemic, chances are it's changed your body—for the worse. Your "desk" is probably your kitchen table or your bed, you're hunched over your laptop with a screen that's far too low, and you stay in that position for hours on end. The physical strain is real, with doctors noticing an uptick in patients complaining about back and neck pain, sore shoulders, and tendonitis in their forearms. So, you may be wondering, what can be done?
Other than setting up a more ergonomic desk station, ballet could be the fix you're looking for. WFH cuts out a commute or even mini-breaks you'd take in the office during the day, making you more sedentary than you probably were pre-pandemic, causing your joints to stiffen up. According to Chris Vo, an Equinox instructor, and Katie Boren, a corps de ballet member at American Ballet Theatre, ballet focuses on overlooked body parts, like your hips, glutes, and spine to help improve your posture, strength, and flexibility, easing physical pain. The two joined forces to develop Ballet by Equinox x ABT, "a full-body workout, incorporating ballet fundamentals that will challenge and improve your endurance, strength, balance, flexibility, memory, coordination, and confidence," says Vo. Below, the two explain how incorporating ballet into your fitness routine can help you build (and rebuild) a better body.
Photo: Courtesy of Instagram/@katieboren1
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What are the benefits to starting a ballet fitness regimen?
"Most of your day is spent in the sagittal plane—front to back—and hunched over—whether over a phone or a computer—with little to no cross-body action," says Vo. When you do ballet exercises, you're moving your bones and joints side-to-side and back-and-forth. According to Vo, this three-dimensional movement can help "counteract the negative strain from your daily movement patterns, or lack thereof."
On top of all those benefits, ballet is also a full-body workout where every single muscle is involved, says Boren. "A ballet fitness regimen will improve your balance, posture, stamina, and coordination."
How can ballet help improve one's posture?
"Ballet teaches you to stand upright while engaging the core, dropping the shoulders, and elongating the neck," says Boren. Ballet also incorporates moves that work both spinal and hip extension, says Vo. "All things that are beneficial against being static, hunched over, and closed in."
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The pros of a ballet-based workout don't end there. According to Boren, ballet really hones skills like "musicality, fluidity, breathing, coordination" while also strengthening the mind-body connection, which helps to improve your mental and physical resilience.
Like Boren mentioned before, ballet itself is a great full-body workout, but the Equinox x ABT program she and Vo developed checks off the three basic biomotor skills that are essential to improving your personal health and fitness levels: strength, endurance, and flexibility. While we've already explained the flexibility benefits gained from ballet, below, Boren and Vo help break down the two remaining categories.
Strength: Exercises that involve added tension or weight can fall into this category, like lifting weights. The program designed by Vo and Boren incorporates the use of resistance bands, "adding an extra element and challenge to the technical combinations," says Boren.
Endurance: Endurance workouts are focused on getting your heart rate up, so circuits or HIIT programs live under this umbrella. According to Boren, a traditional ballet class follows a series of combinations with pauses in between each one. "This class, however, moves from one combination to the other with minimal breaks in between," she adds. "You are moving nonstop and really getting that cardio workout in."
The goal of this program is to approach fitness from a more holistic perspective while designing a daily practice that you'll be able to maintain.
The class launched in New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington DC at about 20 Equinox locations total. In case it hasn't launched in your city yet, below are a few online YouTube ballet workouts to consider.
Ballet Body Sculpt by Coach Kel
Ballet Ballet Barre by Kathryn Morgan
Absolute Beginner Ballet Class 1 by Ballet Misfit
Top photo: Courtesy of Instagram/@royalacademyofdance
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