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Pilates as an adjunct to class


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How many Pilates classes/wk are ideal to see any kind of effect on dance? The classes at my gym are only 2x per wk, but I find it hard to believe that 2x per wk would really do anything. The only problem is, I take ballet class 3x per wk, so I would rather take class than take Pilates class. And then there's this minor thing called cardio that is a pain in the behind, but is useful for keeping your metabolism up.


And of course -- while ballet is a large part of my life, I still have to go to work...and then there's eating and sleeping too, not to mention driving kids around town...WHEW!


For those of you that do Pilates, how many sessions per wk do you do it and for how long?

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I've found that taking Pilates even just once a week helped my ballet. I couldn't believe how strong my abs had become in just several months -- and that really improved my balances and pirouettes. I had to give up the Pilates class over the summer because it conflicted with a ballet class, but hope to resume again in the fall. I think because Pilates works on such a deep, intense level, quality (of class) is more important than quantity.


And to answer your other question, the class I took was 45 minutes long. Nice and efficient since, as you note , finding time for both ballet and Pilates and that other thing called LIFE is quite challenging! :)

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I would agree that the quality is more important than quantity with Pilates. I found it useful for learning about the deep muscles in the pelvis, but not incredibly strength building. It helped my alignment and pelvic placement a lot, but I feel that the strength I have is mostly from floor barre and ballet class. I did one on one work with a pilates instructor. Class at some gym is probably useless for a serious ballet dancer.


Ballet 3x a week isn't really enough to progress to a high level. More ballet classes would be beneficial.


A freind told me that strong muscles affect metabolism more than anything because muscle cells have more mitochondria in them, the structures that regulate metabolism. I have dropped from 132 to 108 pounds in a year and a half simply from ballet and floor barre alone, without any additional dieting or cardio work.

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Guest abc4dance

My husband found even 1 one on one pilates class every 2 weeks positively affected his ballet. What made it really effective was learning how to apply the principles of pilates to his ballet. The other thing that helped is from seeing him in ballet class I knew where his strengths and weaknesses were and could address them accordingly with the pilates.

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I took a pilates course last year, 1 hour/week for 6 weeks. The pilates teacher was excellent, and a former dancer. It was a mat class with about 6 students.


The results suprised me. My stomach muscles got considerably stronger and for the first time ever my little "belly bulge" got smaller. I haven't taken any pilates classes since, but I am working "smarter" in my other classes and floor exercises.


I think the biggest effect it's had on my dancing is that I no longer am focused on keeping my stomach pulled in. This lets me concentrate on so many other movements. I didn't realize how much energy I was spending on "pulling up" until I didn't have to worry about it so much. Developes got higher and balance was improved.


I think just 1 pilates class each week would be beneficial if the teaching was good. I've done the same exercises in jazz and modern dance classes for years, but it wasn't until the pilates' focus on form that I noticed real improvement. Quality is so much more important than quantity.


Extra pilates classes at the gym wouldn't hurt, especially if you're trying to get your money's worth out of the gym. Personally, I would ditch the gym membership and take extra dance classes, plus pilates at a studio.

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Guest Lori64

I attend one Pilates class a week and to be quite honest, this is quite sufficient - after all, it is as your thread describes "an adjunct to class".


Pilates helps dancers in many ways - firstly, in my opinion to re-align the body, then for suppleness and by no means lastly, to help you think about breathing! For me, this was the most difficult part of Pilates when I first started some 3 years ago!


Any dancer can do any Pilates movement, but in order to do it "correctly", taking things slowly is incredibly important. The whole secret of Pilates is to slowly develop core strength and suddenly, you will find that you are able to do things you have always been able to do but with absolutely no strain!!


In order to work, bring up a family, dance and exercise..........well Shirley Conran's Superwoman certainly never managed all that!! :)


As for cardio - what on earth is a ballet class?? Allegro surely is "cardio"??


Personally, as a dyed in the wool bunhead, I can't get on with "cardio" - i.e. aerobics, gym etc. A good ballet class in conjunction with Pilates and if time allows, some sort of limbering/dance based workout should suffice!


I occasionally attend a "adult dance/exercise" class at a couple of studios if I feel the need to shift a few pounds or get fitter - usually after a long lazy break! These classes are run by dancers for non-dancers - i.e. mums. They generally involve horrible stamina stuff - usually jazz limbering, ballet barre or centre practice, floor barre - absolute killers but a few weeks certainly gets me fighting fit again!!

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Let me be something of the contrarian. I’ve done Pilates for a long time now (perhaps 6 years, I’m not sure) and in fact just this noon I did a dance conditioning workout of which about 25 minutes of that workout was various Pilates exercises. In my opinion, Pilates is absolutely great for developing a strong torso. Having said that, I will say that Pilates has done very very very little to improve my ballet. Yes, you do contract the abs and lower back in ballet, but the strength required of those muscles in ballet is really quite minimal, again in my opinion. If you are seriously weak in the torso, however, then Pilates may very well improve your ballet. But I would emphasize the phrase seriously weak.


Ballet class is what really improves your ballet.


I would argue that Pilates is more beneficial to the modern or contemporary dancer because of the contractions one does. Many modern teachers use Pilates exercises in their floor work in fact.


So if I don’t think Pilates exercises help my ballet, why do I continue to do them? Well, not everything we do needs to help us improve ballet, and I do think it is healthy and feels good to have a really really strong torso. I mix Pilates exercises, floor barre exercises, stretching, simple weight training and cardio work into what I call a dance conditioning workout that I do three times a week. If I had the time, money, and availability of class, I’d probably drop the dance conditioning and replace it with more classes.


Just to clarify the quantity vs quality discussion, intensity is the most important quality of any strengthening exercise. Intensity is increased in Pilates by really concentrating on what I’ll call the technique of the exercise, feeling each muscle fiber contract, putting as much thought and effort into each repetition as possible. So what we really mean by quality is increasing intensity. But quantity is also important I think. Muscles get strengthened by stressing them more and more. The body always is trying to adapt to whatever stresses it is under. What that means is that if you are going to continue to increase strength in a muscle, eventually quantity will play a roll.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't take regular pilates classes, but I do certain pilates exercise that I find beneficial for my physical needs. I think improving muscular strength is a benefit of pilates, and other exercises, than can translate to ballet if you have specific need.


As a teenager my dance teacher suggested I start doing sit-ups, and after a month or so, I couldn't believe the results. I disagree with those who think abs aren't necessary for ballet. If pilates is your way to strengthening your abs (or back, or quads etc.) then you might just try it and see how much, or little, time it takes to make a difference in your technique.

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I've seen a huge improvement in abdominal strength and back flexibility. I have a very curved lower back and Pilates is definitely helping improve that area.


Also, I'm much more aware of my posture. I have a tendency to lift and tense my shoulders - my Pilates instructor's constant correction of this has made me more aware of other times I do this (when studying, reading etc).


My main motivation for going to Pilates, however, is not to improve my ballet, but to make sure my body is in good shape for the long run. My future mother-in-law has huge back problems, which I think are a result of not taking care of her back. I intend not to have to go through the agony she has.



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I was *seriously weak* as described above before starting ballet. Honestly the only reason I felt confident enough to start was having a year of Pilates under my belt.


It definitely helped me in terms of strengthening the whole body (I had had a pretty bad back injury and my whole body just took a dive in terms of the kind of shape I was in). If you are in this kind of poor shape then I would definitely recommend it for strength building.


But now that I am back in class I actually use it more as a "restorative" rather than strength-building workout. By that I mean that I do Pilates when I am tight all over, and recently I have been doing it as a cool-down after classes. I live right nearby where I take class and can rush right home. I have noticed a HUGE difference in the way I feel the next day and day after that.

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I will say that Pilates has done very very very little to improve my ballet.


I do agree that Pilates will not improve your ballet. However, speaking as someone who has danced for many many years, what Pilates does is teach a dancer how to re-align their body. I'm at the age now where many of my contemporaries have serious problems with backs, hips, knees and just about everything simply because of a lifetime of dancing.


For me, Pilates has helped me "listen to my body" differently. as a dancer, i thought I knew what my body was doing - so yes, I knew the difference between "good" and "bad" pain. However, pilates has taught me that any pain at all is bad!!

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