To those who say that ballet (along with cheerleading, gymnastics, etc.) isn’t a sport, one athletic attire company would beg to differ: Under Armour just signed American Ballet Theatre soloist Misty Copeland as a spokesperson, and her awesome photos reveal that she's as much an athlete as any football player. Look at those leg muscles! Who wouldn't want a lean, athletic-looking body like that?
Since we definitely wouldn't mind resembling Misty (especially the way she looks in a pair of hot pants), we talked to Rachel Piskin, a former member of the New York City Ballet and co-founder of Chaise Fitness, a pilates/ballet/aerobics hybrid that promises to lengthen muscles and increase flexibility. You may not be able to pull off a tour jeté after adding these moves to your workout, but you might be able to channel a bit more of Misty's badassery.
Double Heel Lift Pliés: Extend arms out into ballet second position (round elbows making half circle shapes with each arm) and move feet to hip distance apart, in ballet second position (toes turned out and thighs rotated into a turned out position). Lift heels off the floor and hold balance. Bend knees while keeping your arms still and heels lifted into a mini plié position before straightening up. Repeat 20 times. Then, lower down and hold the bent-knees position and pulse up and down slightly. Repeat 20 times, then repeat the whole sequence three times. Works: your glutes, calfs, core, upper body, and balance.
Passe Tilts: Start by standing on your right left with left leg turned out, with toes pointed. Bring right toes to left knee and bend knee into a passe position (right leg will form a triangle shape), with left arm rounded over your head and right arm rounded to the side. Extend right leg straight to the side of the body, keeping toes pointed. At the same time, reverse arms so the right arm is on top and left arm is to side. Move back to passe starting position. Repeat 15 times on each leg, then repeat set three times. Works: glutes, inner and outer thighs, core, upper body, and balance and coordination.
Standing Attitude Taps: Stand on your left leg with a slightly bent left knee. Lift your right leg in front with the knee turned out and bent at an approximately 90-degree angle. Hold your arms out to the side in second position, then lower the right attitude leg and tap the toe to floor before lifting back up. Tap the ground ten times, then hold the leg in the air for ten seconds, then pulse for ten counts. Repeat on the other leg, and then repeat on both sides with the leg to the back. Works: glutes, inner and outer thighs, hips, hamstrings, core, and upper body and balance.
Plié Planks: Place your feet against a wall in a slightly turned out position, with toes apart and heels touching. Walk hands out into a plank position. Pull your hips back towards the wall and bend your knees to floor into a plié plank position. Push off the wall to extend back to plank position. For an extra challenge, add a push-up in plank position after each plié. Repeat fifteen times, then rest. Repeat set three times. Works: the glutes, inner and outer thighs, hips, hamstrings, core, and upper body.
Attitude Ab Crunches: Start by lying on the floor with your hands behind your head. Bend your right leg into attitude position (leg raised with knee bent at approximately a 90-degree angle). Move your left leg into an attitude underneath with toe touching the floor. Curl your head and upper back into an ab crunch as you bring your left heel upward. Cross your heels, making a diamond shape with your legs, then release your upper body and leg back to your starting position. Repeat 10 to 20 times on each side, then repeat the set twice. Works: core, inner and outer thighs, and glutes.
Photo: Courtesy of Under Armour