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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pilates Mat Exercises


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I belong to 24-Hour Fitness gym and also take abt 4-4.5 hours of beginning ballet per week. On Tuesdays, I attend mat Pilates which is taught by someone who I believe was a former dancer, judging by how he carries his body and his general posture and movements.


The $64 question is: Are there different kinds of mat Pilates; i.e., are there Pilates geared for dancers and Pilates that serve general purpose but do not necessarily enhance whatever a dancer needs to enhance?


....because Defore Center For Performing Arts, the dance studio I attend, also offers mat Pilates class on Sunday mornings, but because of volunteer work I do at the same time the class runs, I don't attend it.

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Tell your instructor at the gym that you're a dancer; he may modify your regimen to benefit you particularly.

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I'm not sure if this question is close enough to stay in the same thread, but here goes. I'll re-post if anyone feels it should be separated. :blink:


I've just started a second ballet/exercise class. Both are approximately 30 minutes mat Pilates plus 30 minutes barre; one has another 30 minutes of center with lots of stretching. Unfortuunately both are on the same day, morning and evening.


I know this is not ideal - just wondered if anyone had some idea of what the compromises are. I do get 2 or 3 ballet classes as well.

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From the little I know, I would say that all Pilates mat exercises would be appropriate for a dancer. The only thing is the instructor would have to do is make them TOUGH ENOUGH for you, because my guess is that a ballet dancer will already be at the top of the scale for core strength, endurance, coordination, balance, flexibility and whatever else the mat classes train.



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Good points Major Mel and jimpickles. The exercises where we drop to our backs then pull up straight then extend to touch our toes is a challenge for several of the other class attendees, but rather average for me--I end up holding the arches of my feet just to get the extra stretch, and pullng myself up to sitting position with long neck hardly poses a challenge even after 12 or so reps. I'll see abt getting the instructor to suggest different difficulty levels on more of the exercises.


I suspect, though, that my body already has the core strength, endurance, balance, flexibility, and coordination from years of running, weight lifting, and gym-cardo exercises. I just need to learn how to apply these strenghts to ballet.


For instance, when I focus on my abs, they do stay engaged. But once I focus on my working and standing legs, the abs start relaxing; my ballet teacher has to keep coming back to me and remind me to pull up my abs.


QUESTION: Will I need to always actively monitor my different body parts all the time? I can't imagine trying to do this, and simultaneously trying to learn exercise steps?

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Agnes, it's like rubbing your stomach and patting your head, and then switching. Makes your coordination crazy. You just have to keep doing it, and gradually, it all comes together.

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Hey there


I am a pilates instructor and adult Ballet student. As far as I know there is no 'different' pilates for dancers than non-dancers. THe things that a well-trained Pilates instructor should and will stress are the things that all dancers need and many already know.


I have several classes a week which I teach specifically for people from the dance studio- not that the material is different but the focus and interest is very specific. Whereas many of my general clients are interested in doing Pilates for it's own sake (I really want to be able to do the teaser/roll-up/jacknife/whatever), whereas my dance clients want Pilates for how it can help their dancing. Which it definitely can do.


My one caveat in all this I have already alluded to...please make sure you have a Pilates instructor who is well trained. Pilates has become very 'flavour of the month' and as a result there are many one or two weekend courses available that purport to train Pilates instructors. I have seen too many people get hurt, particularly in the lower back regions, and too many poorly trained instructors having clients do exercises that they have no business attempting yet. The ballet equivalent would be asking a beginner to do fouettes or penches before they are completely clear on what a degage is.


So please, please, please, if you take Pilates, find out what sort of training your instructor has and be careful.


I am very happy to PM anyone with more specifics if they are concerned. I think that Pilates is a fantastic form of exercise and very useful for ballet dancers...I am just very concerned that people stay safe.

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Thank you, Ania!!!! I had hoped that a professional voice would answer!!!!

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Can I ask - maybe Ania knows - if someone has just a weekend's training, how do they get insurance, and without insurance how do they get to work anywhere apart from in their own premises (as well as potentially exposing themselves to massive liability if something goes wrong).


Coming from yoga - where the teacher was always very careful about "protecting the lower back" I was surprised how potentally dangerous Pilates was, until you had the strength, and how people seemed to be rather rushed into it.



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There is currently no governing body defining what a 'Pilates" instructor is. You could call yourself a Pilates instructor, hang out your shingle tommorrow and nobody could call you on it.


There is a movement afoot to change that...but it hasn't happened yet.


As far as insurance goes, I don't think the insurance companies are capable of distinguishing between one certificate of competence and another. If you pay them their premium and supply them with the certificate you are insured. Unfortunately many health clubs (by this I mean the bigger general gyms, usually not a small dedicated Pilates studio) also don't distinguish between the various certifications. Also, if you are ...for arguments sake....a step aerobics instructor, with general fitness instructor insurance, you can do your weekend course , call yourself a Pilates instructor and your insurance is valid.


What is doubly frustrating is that a good, thorough program often requires a certain number of hours 'student teaching' and a rigorous written and practical exam. This all takes time. So you could be a Pilates instructor in training...not yet certified, and not get hired. While someone with a 2 weekend Pilates instructor 'certification" will get hired because they are 'certified" and you are not yet. What this means is that sometimes a pilates instructor in training will be better than a 'certified' instructor. Sigh.

Hopefully with time this will change.


I guess it is sort of like real ballet training versus Dolly Dinkle. Unless you know better, how do you know that what you are getting isn't the right thing ?


Again...if anyone is looking for Pilates instructions and wants to know what questions to ask, what to look for, etc....please please ask. I will PM, email, whatever you want.


If the moderators feel there is a need for it, I can write a little something to post for the board...But I don't want to impose if it's not really necessary.

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Ania, I noticed that your location is "ca". Are you located in Southern or Northern California? Part of the week, I am located in Orange County, and part in San Jose, CA. If you're within driving distance of either place, I'd like to know your address and phone number.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks to Ania, I got plenty of information about Stott Pilates. So I am sharing this site which contains a wealth of information about their fitness conventions and workshops, exercise of the month, past newsletters, etc. There are many Stott Pilates certified instructors throughout the country, as I found.



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I’ve been around the fitness game for quite a while and have been doing Pilates exercises for about ten years I guess. I don’t think of Pilates as a set of exercises, whether on the mat or with equipment, but rather as a set of principles—e.g., how the abs are engaged, control of the movement as a whole, coordinating movement with breathing. Consequently, I’ve modified the exercises you learn by adding little dance and acrobatic elements. Also invented some exercises and made my own equipment (remember old Joe essentially made his equipment out of junk he found). If you think in terms of principles, I think this is all quite simple.


Now, almost any kind of reputable instructor training is good. Nonetheless, training is not a guarantee that someone will be a good Pilates instructor. The basic principles I mention above are not complicated, especially so if one has been around activities like yoga, acrobatics, or dance. All teaching is an art, and some people just have more talent for teaching than do others, regardless of training.


I’ve not been to a Pilates mat class for years and have only made a couple of visits to a Pilates studio (only to learn how the equipment worked quite frankly) but the absolute best “mat class” I ever had was taught by a professional dancer and the class was really a mix of traditional Pilates mat exercise, traditional floor barre exercises, with some yoga stretches mixed in. I suppose that technically it wasn’t a Pilates mat class, but it sure was good from a dance perspective.

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Guest pink tights

Agnes, thanks for sharing that link. Lots of great info.


Ania, you must be an amazing teacher--very thoughtful, and obviously well trained.

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