Shall we dance?
You donÂt have to be a ballerina to benefit from these gentle toning moves.
1. Grand plié and relevé Stand facing a barre or chair, feet slightly wider than hips, toes turned out (second position). Lightly hold the top of the chair or barre with both hands for support. Contract your abdominals and lift your chest, keeping your shoulders relaxed. Slowly bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor, spine erect and body weight over your heels. Your tailbone should point toward the floor throughout the move. Lower your torso only as far as you can without changing the position of your back. Slowly straighten your knees, squeezing your inner thighs together, and rise up onto the balls of your feet. (If you get cramps in your calves, delete this part of the sequence.) Lower your heels and lift your toes off the floor. Lower toes and repeat 3 times. Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings, inner thighs, buttocks, calves, shins; improves balance and increases circulation in the legs.
2. Wrap and resist Face the barre or chair with your feet and knees together, heels touching. Hold the barre or chair lightly for support. Contract abdominals, bringing your spine into a neutral position. Lift your toes up off the floor and pivot on your heels, rotating your hips and toes outward only as far as you can without changing the alignment of your spine. Then place your toes flat on the floor in first position. Your heels still should be together and your legs straight. Push your heels into the floor as you contract all of your leg muscles for 8 counts, keeping your upper body relaxed and spine aligned. At the same time, squeeze your inner-thigh muscles together and tighten your buttocks. Visualize pulling your thigh muscles out and around your thigh bone. Release, return to starting position and repeat 3 times. Tones buttocks and thighs; strengthens abdominals and back muscles; improves alignment and balance.
3. Port de bras Stand with your right side to a barre or chair in first position, heels together and feet turned out. Extend your left arm out to your side at shoulder height, palm facing down. Maintaining an erect position and neutral spine, lift your left arm up directly overhead, rotating palm in. Then, bring your arm toward the barre, letting your body follow but keeping your head facing forward. You should feel a stretch through the left side of your torso and left arm. Bring your arm back directly overhead so it’s in line with your shoulder, then stretch it backward. Keep shoulders facing forward, down and relaxed. Return to starting position and repeat this entire sequence 3 times before switching sides. Tones upper torso and keeps back muscles limber; improves range of shoulder-joint motion.