It’s been at least six solid months since I’ve set foot into the dance studio after the Circuit Breaker kicked in, and I’ve been missing it. That’s why, when my regular ballet teacher, Maybelle Lek, made an open call for students to join her instructor’s training class at BalletBody, I jumped at the chance to go.
Admittedly feeling pretty chonky after months of eating a great deal and not dancing, I looked forward to my BalletBody session with a slight degree of trepidation. Ballet, after all, requires a bit of flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance. Still, BalletBody opens its classes to all levels of experience, which was a comfort to my lack of practice.
BalletBody, for anyone
Located along Pagoda Street (next to the Tintin shop), BalletBody is a fitness studio that specialises in ballet centric work out classes, incorporating the classical moves into full body exercises. The classes are designed by co-founders Alison Carroll and Lisha Chin, former professional ballet dancers at the Singapore Dance Theatre.
The hour-long classes are available in three levels, BalletBody Basics, BalletBody Classic and BalletBody Advance.
Each class caters to different levels of aptitude and experience. The BalletBody Basics targets the fundamentals of ballet technique through a full body work out.
If you’ve got the fundamentals down and are looking to condition your body more, BalletBody Classic will train you just like a dancer.
For the experienced, challenge yourself with the BalletBody Advance, with more centre practices (away from the barre) and allegros (ballet jumps).
Don’t let the tranquil image of ballet dancers fool you–these routines will get you sweating and your muscles shaking in no time. Before we started, Maybelle even had us each get a towel from the rack with the promise that we were going to need it.
I got to BalletBody smack in the middle of the afternoon heat. Almost like a pre-work out, the studio sits at the top of a narrow flight of stairs that you have to scale to get to. Leave your shoes on the little shelf by the door before you go in, and be greeted by the reception area that opens right into the main studio. The spacious and minimalist interior befits the elegance of ballet.
The facilities are pleasant, with a clean changing room and a spacious studio. Ample sunlight spills onto the wooden floorboards, creating an airy and serene atmosphere to dance in.
One thing that differentiates BalletBody classes from regular ballet classes are the weights worn on the wrists.
They just add that extra challenge to your muscles as you hold up your arms through the steps. Strap them on both wrists like a watch and you’re good to go.
Be still my trembling thighs
Maybelle brought us through the BalletBody Classic class, and boy, did that have my muscles trembling by the end of it!
It was such a pleasure to hear her counting me through pliés, tendus, and relevés again. As always, her patience and cheerful disposition never lets even the least experienced student feel left out.
The BalletBody Classic was a rigorous hour of warm-ups and ballet exercises, ending with a short mat pilates session. The exercises work each side of your body systematically, with increasing intensity. I don’t exaggerate when I say that my leg was visibly shaking by the time we got to the fondus, balancing on one leg while clinging harder to the barre than could be considered graceful.
They weren’t kidding when they called this a full body work out. The class engages every inch of the body, from the arms right to the feet. Apart from training muscle strength, it is an intense exercise in balance and discipline. I must’ve discovered muscle groups I never knew I had in the process.
As a testament to my severe lack of practice, my arms and legs are still aching three days after the class. On the bright side, though, I’m once again reminded of how satisfying a good ballet session can be.
Apart from the classes I mentioned earlier, BalletBody also offers a 45 minute BalletBody Stretch class that targets muscle recovery and flexibility using a combination of stretches and myofascial release techniques.
If you have no prior experience, the physically demanding techniques of ballet can be a bit daunting (I know, I’ve been there). BalletBody makes ballet more accessible to beginners by incorporating its traditional moves and positions in a fitness routine. You don’t have to know the French terms or have the first to fifth positions memorised to do these classes. The instructors will talk you through each step with clear demonstrations, so you get your ballet work out with half the stress.
So, dress comfortably in your work out gear, slide on some socks or ballet shoes, get to the barre and flex.
Get in touch to book your first in-studio or online class. If my muscle-cramping, sweat-inducing and all-out exhilarating stint here hasn’t convinced you, check out BalletBody’s Facebook and Instagram for much more elegant and poised inspiration. I’m just saying, I’m keeping it real.
Rates: S$40 for single in-studio classes; S$340 to S$1350 for in-studio Class Packs; S$15 for single online classes, S$130 to S$220 for online Class Packs. Check out their site for the full list of series and rates.
24A Pagoda Street, Singapore 059186
24A Pagoda Street, Singapore 059186