This ballet-inspired workout will tone you from head to toe (no tutu required)
Almost everyone has envied the long, lean look of a ballerina. This dancer's body workout routine will help you build strong, flexible muscles and leave you feeling more graceful than a typical gym workout would. It works by generating small, controlled movements designed to isolate and challenge muscles without stressing your joints, explains Elisabeth Halfpapp, an exercise instructor at Exhale spa in New York City who created this workout. (Halfpapp should know: She's a former professional ballet dancer.)
All you need for this dancer's body workout is a sturdy chair or countertop to hold on to and a mat, towel, or carpeted surface. Warm up by marching in place 100 times as you swing your arms. Do this total-body-toning workout at least three times a week. Turn on some classical music as accompaniment and you'll really feel like a dancer.
Shapes thighs and calves
A. Hold chair or counter with one hand for balance and raise opposite arm toward ceiling. Stand with heels together and toes pointing out, then raise heels 2 inches off floor so you're on balls of feet.
B. Keeping abs in, shoulders down, and back straight, bend knees, lowering body up to 12 inches. Hold for one count, return to starting position, and repeat, staying on balls of feet the entire time. Do two sets of 10 reps.
Firms thighs and buttocks
A. Hold chair or counter with one hand for balance and raise opposite arm toward ceiling. Stand with feet about 3 feet apart and angled out (as in Plié). Keeping shoulders down and abs tight, tuck pelvis under and bend knees. Raise heels off floor as high as possible (pictured).
B. Keeping pelvis tucked, squeeze butt and press thighs and knees back. (This is a very small movement.) Hold for one count, then release. Repeat, staying on balls of feet with knees bent the entire time. Do two sets of 20 reps.