Embrace Your Inner Ballerina
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With devotees like Madonna, Kelly Ripa, and Natalie Portman, it's not surprising that women everywhere are flocking to barre workout classes. But it's not just Hollywood hype! Ballet-inspired workouts are a great way to develop lean muscle mass while improving your balance, flexibility, and range of motion. The only downside: Some classes come with a high price tag. To help you get in on the barre craze on any budget, we asked Miami-based fitness expert Jessica Smith to create an at-home, ballet-inspired routine that will help lift, lengthen, and tone your entire body.
Workout details: Do 1 set of the recommended number of reps for each move, moving from one to the next with little rest in between. Depending on how much time (and energy) you have, repeat the full circuit 1, 2, or 3 times total.
You’ll need: A sturdy, high back chair and a set of light hand weights (2 to 5 lbs).
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Targets: thighs, abs, ankles, and feet
Stand with your feet in first position (heels together, toes turned out about 45 degrees), legs straight, and hands gently resting on the back of the chair. With your spine tall and abs tight, rise up onto the balls of your feet. Plié by bending your knees out over your toes (only lower about half-way down). Straighten your legs (squeezing your inner thighs together as you extend), and then lower your heels. Repeat 20 times total.
Parallel Plié Pulse
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Targets: glutes, thighs, abs, ankles, and feet
Stand with your feet parallel and together, hands on the back of chair. Press up onto the balls of your feet and bend your knees into a deep plié by lowering your hips as far down as you can, squeezing your inner thighs together (knees should stay touching). Lift up halfway (knees should stay bent), and then return to deep plié position. That's one rep. Repeat 20 times total.
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Repetitions: 20 on each side
Targets: glutes, hips, and obliques
Stand tall with your feet in first position and place your right hand on the back of the chair. Keeping your chest lifted, extend your left leg behind your hip into an arabesque position, foot pointed, and reach your left arm in front of your shoulder, palm facing down.
Keeping your left leg raised, bend your left knee out to the side into an attitude position (your knee should be higher than your foot), and reach your left arm above your head in third position (elbow slightly bent, arm in a half circle shape by your ear, palm down). Extend your raised leg back out into arabesque. That's one rep. Repeat 20 times with the left leg, 20 times with the right.
Reaching Rond de Jambe
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Repetitions: 10 per side
Targets: thighs, hips, abs, and arms
Stand tall in first position with your right hand resting on the back of the chair. Brace your abs in tight and lift your left leg in front of your body as high as you can, keeping your back straight and tall. Raise your left arm to create half of a frame around your face in third position. Your left toes should be pointed.
Slowly open your leg out to the side, lowering your arm into second position by reaching it out to the side of your shoulder, elbow slightly bent, palm facing front. Circle your leg (rond de jambe means "circle of the leg") behind you, reaching your arm overhead back into third position, leaning forward from your hips to bring your torso parallel to the floor. Slowly lift back up, keeping your spine straight, and lower your leg and arm back into first position. That's one rep. Repeat 10 times total with the left leg, 10 times with the right.
Plié Pulse to Passé
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Repetitions: 20 on each side
Targets: thighs, hips, abs, calves, arms
Stand tall in fourth position (from first position take one step forward with your left foot, keeping it turned out, and cross it in front of your right) with your right hand resting on the back of the chair, left arm in second position. Rise up onto the balls of your feet, and then plié bending both knees out to the sides. Extend your right leg straight (keeping heel lifted), as you lift your left knee out to the side and lightly touch your left (pointed) toes just outside your right knee. Bring your left arm overhead into third position.
Lower your left foot back into fourth position and return your arm to second position (heels should remain lifted for the entire set). Repeat 20 times total with the left leg, 20 times with the right.
Rear Fly and Arabesque Lift
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Repetitions: 20 on each side
Targets: glutes, thighs, hips, abs, and upper back
Grab a dumbbell in your left hand and stand tall with your feet parallel (and touching), right hand resting on the back of the chair. Extend your right leg behind you, pointing your right toes on the floor. Bend your left knee and hinge forward from your hips, keeping your back flat and abs tight, reaching your left arm towards the floor. Open your left arm out to the side into second position while lifting your right leg up behind your hip. Lower your arm and leg. That's one rep. Repeat 20 times with the left leg, 20 times with the right.
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Targets: triceps, calves, abs, and shoulders
Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand tall in first position. Raise your arms overhead, bend elbows out to the sides, and lower the weights slightly behind your head. Brace your abs in tight and press up onto the balls of your feet. Extend your arms overhead slightly in front of your body, palms facing forward. Lower your heels and bend your elbows at the same time, lowering the weights behind your head (almost "shaving" the back of it). Repeat 20 times total.
Plié Port de Bras
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Targets: chest, arms, shoulders, thighs, and abs
Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet wide in second position (begin in first position and step your right foot out about 3 feet to the side). Bend your knees out over your toes, keeping your back straight and hips under your shoulders.
To begin port de bras (which translates to "carriage of the arms"), scoop your arms up in front of your chest, elbows slightly bent palms facing up. Open your arms out to second position (palms remain up). Bring both arms overhead into third position, then back open to second, and then bring arms back together in front of chest (holding plie position with your legs the entire time). Lower your arms and extend your legs to return to the starting position. That's one rep. Repeat 20 times total.
Teaser Biceps Curl
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Targets: chest, biceps, shoulders, and abs
Grab a pair of dumbbells and sit with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor (knees and ankles touching). Pull your abdominals in tight, round your back, and slowly lower to the floor until just your head and shoulders are off the ground. Bring both arms to the outside of your hips, hovering parallel to the floor, palms facing up. Slowly and with control, round your back and roll up through your spine, lifting elbows in line with your shoulders and curling the dumbbells into your chest as you sit up.
At the top, lift your chest and straighten your spine as much as you can, bracing your abs in tight, arms bent at 90 degrees. That's one rep. Repeat 20 times total.
Photos by: Vanessa Rogers Photography