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Ballet Talk for Dancers


Guest Nicole Foss

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Guest Nicole Foss

I was wondering if anyone had any links to statistics/studies on the relationship between ballet and physical fitness. We all know that ballet is good for us and is a great form of exercise, but I'd like to get some hard facts to bring in to work... see... the problems is that just recently, my work place has made it mandatory for everyone to put in a 1.5 hour workout at the gym from 7:00 am to 8:30 pm every day. This wouldn't be that bad, but I take my ballet classes in the evenings, and splitting the exercise around my work day like that isn't working... I'm getting cranky, and I'm not performing well at all at class because of the stress of being forced to exercise, as well as regular work. I've asked for a waiver to count my 1.5 hour ballet class on Tuesdays and Thursdays as the necessary exercise, only it's most likely going to be turned down because the people running the show don't consider ballet exercise (based on stereotypes) and I can't exactly invite them to a class, because that violates all kinds of rules and regulations. Sorry to ramble and rant for so long, and thanks in advance to all those who reply.

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The top three most strenuous physical activities are considered to be hockey, ballet and football in that order. A quick search didn't find that fact anywhere, but it's been reported in the NYCB program in the past.


I find a REQUIREMENT that employees exercise to be highly suspicious and probably downright illegal. Especially if it's not directly related to your job and you're not paid overtime for it. This is the adult world, not grade school.


I would therefore consider one of the following options:


1. Find another job and leave ASAP.


2. Decide you want to stay and fight for your job while fighting the employee exercise rule. In this case, I suggest you keep a cool head, get a lawyer ASAP, document everything in writing, etc. If they try to fire you for going against their rule, then you will need to have it all documented to prove in court that they're firing you because of the rule, and not because of the "poor performance" they're likely to cite. The sooner you get legal advice on that matter --- like before the fight begins --- the better.


3. Decide that you don't really care and just comply with their rules, even though you're not getting paid overtime for it.

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Wow! Nicole, what type of work do you do if you don't mind us asking? That sounds like a VERY unusual requirement. I imagine this can't be a desk job??

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Hello, Nichole --


I'm sorry to hear that your employer is so closed-minded, and authoritarian, but

fear not! We will convince them that ballet is a suitable exercise! :hyper:


I did a little research for you on the topic of how strenuous various exercise

forms are... so please bear with me while I blab about this for a bit -- perhaps

some of these links will be helpful in documenting your case to the Powers

That Be.


My starting place was the website for the President's Council

on Physical Fitness. (The theory being: use the reports generated BY

bureaucrats to impress OTHER bureaucrats :() Anyway, that site is:


and it led me to their site on "The President's Challenge" which started with that

fitness test for children back in the day, and is now a program to help people like

us understand what good exercise might be. Its URL is:


Now, that group HAS a documented analysis of all kinds of physical activity

and how strenuous they are! To see that report, go to:

http://prevention.sph.sc.edu/tools/compendium.htm and then download



This report was originally developed at Stanford University as a way of

measuring and ranking how strenuous different sports activities are. Today it

classifies activities in something that they call MET units (METabolic equivalents)

which is the ratio between the energy required to do the activity and a resting

metabolic rate. So, sitting quietly is 1.0 MET, and it goes upward from there, eg:

2 METs is twice as strenuous as sitting quietly. For example, stationary rowing

on a rowing machine with light effort is listed as 3.5 METs. The report is large, and

thorough enough to list just about every physical activity you can imagine, (even

sex, which is 1.5 METs, in case you were wondering... How DID they come up

with that??) But I digress...


All right, what about ballet? Well, it shows up as "dancing, ballet or modern,

twist, jazz, tap, jitterbug" and is 6.0 METs in the 1993 report, and 4.8 in the

2000 report. I don't agree with them reranking it lower, but there it is in

print at least, in a report posted on a government web page, so at least it

has a bit of credibility to it.


With all these data at your fingertips, I would recommend writing up a justification

for your ballet classes -- perhaps using the old 1993 version of the analysis, which

shows it at a higher MET level. I don't know how much you would need to show, but

maybe you could pick some other activities that would be done at the gym

and compare them to ballet, to show that ballet is serious exercise. (For example,

the 1993 report lists "stationary bicycle, general" as 5.0 METs) Perhaps that can

help you document your case to the folks in charge of the exercise requirement;

if they aren't willing to come watch/participate in a ballet class.


Good luck with all this, and remember, there's ALWAYS monster.com :wink:

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Guest Nicole Foss

That's why this is such a tough situation... I'm in the military, and therefore Uncle Sam could tell me to work out for 5 hours a day, and there wouldn't be much I could do. It seems that the military is quite similar to grade school in the way it's run. What I'm really trying to battle here is the general stereotype that ballet is not a valid type of exercise, or in other words that anyone can do it. But of course, being in the military there certain channels that I must go through. It'd be nice to just challenge the guy running the program to take a class with me, of course, he's way high above me, and could cause serious problems with my career. That's why I would like to find some studies and other documentation so that I can present a valid case up the right channels. I've also got a bit of a lucky break... Most of my immediate workcenter is either indifferent or supportive of this effort, and the highest person in the organization is a female (no offence to any of the male dancers/supporters, but females tend to be a bit more accepting of alternative exercises).





Edit: Was posting while pirate was... Thank you so much for the information, as well as the links to the sources. I really appreciate the support and effort involved, and will definitely keep you all updated on the progress.


Also, Spankster, I do have a desk job (computer and network administration), but that doesn't matter in the mil.

Edited by Nicole Foss
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That sounds like a very stressful situation! It's one thing to encourage healthy workers, but mandatory exercise?! (and every day too) It does sound big brotherish. I noticed on your web page though that you work for the United States Air Force... do you have to do basic training, even if you're in administration?


If you look in the Mom and Dads forum, or maybe the Young Dancers, there are several threads on ballet and PE. Apparently some school districts allow the kids to count a certain level of ballet classes as physical activity, and exempt them from school gym classes (or at least the running and the counterproductive-to-ballet-activities). So if there are any schools near you that do this, maybe they can help you formulate a petition. Maybe your ballet teacher/school has had experience with these exemptions, and can talk to your boss?


Also, I remember several anecdotes that Mr Johnson had about doing ballet and being in the army at the same period of time. I can't recall the exact details, but I believe they were quite supportive. (Or maybe it was that they were supportive of guys doing ballet, I could be wrong). But he seems to be the person to ask about military ballet.


Sorry I don't have any journal articles, but good luck! :(

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Hi Nichole --


Thanks for explaining more about your job -- NOW I understand more

of what was behind the "exercise from 0700 - 0830" requirement...

I think I agree that inviting your CO to class might not be the best

idea... But you know, I think that because you're employed by the

US Government, the information in the report sanctioned by the

President's Council on Physical Fitness will carry more weight.


I did have one more idea to share with you... if luck is not with you,

and your request is turned down, you could perhaps try to get a

Pilates class (or some other kind of more dancer-friendly activity,

like stretching, or yoga) offered at the gym, so having to do the

exercise would be perhaps at least a little more tolerable...


Anyway, good luck... I admire your dedication to dance, and

your country. (But I don't envy your hours! :( Exercising

at 0700?? I am not even human before 10am :wink: )

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