If my earlier post wasn’t already hint enough, tonight I took a ballet class. It was the first ballet class I’d had in about a year (and that was the first one since leaving college) and it involved the first bit of pointe work I’ve done since I was about 17.
And despite all of this marathon training, I was so unfit! And I looked like an absolute blob in my tights! You see, I’ve not really been cross training. No strength. Minimal stretching. So my muscle definition is nada. And my turn out (the rotation of the legs from the hips that is found in classical dance) was utter SHITE and, in this very slow class, by the time we got around to putting on our pointe shoes I was dripping with sweat. In Autumn, in a cold studio, no less.
But whilst suffering through this ballet class, dragging my atrophied muscles this way and that, I got to thinking what an excellent bit of cross training, or just plain training, ballet is. It’s well known that dancing builds long, lean muscles, but ballet in particular features lots if work in turn out and for the life of me I could not think of another form of exercise that works the muscles that you use in turn out. In ballet you really work the hip flexors (that are so valuable to running form) in a way that can’t really be achieved by doing anything else. And you wanna build calves? Ballet freaking invented that shit. Weak ankles? Got you covered. Glutes? Penché and arabesque, bitch. A couple hours a week can do wonders for your strength, flexibility, and injury prevention.
Aside from maybe yoga, it might just be the best cross training for runners… And then there’s that turn out!