Feb
07
2011

  Intermediate Ballet Was Great!

My "homework" from my last appointment with the midwives was to come up with a plan to get motivated to do more exercise. Recent studies have shown that it's the most important thing to ensure a good labor and childbirth experience, way more important than diet. And the good thing is that it's directly related to exercise during pregnancy, not your fitness level going into pregnancy. Surprisingly, the study found that women who entered pregnancy super-fit (running marathons, etc.) but who didn't exercise during pregnancy were much worse off than couch potatoes who only started exercising while pregnant. Who'da thunk?

So the first thing I thought of was increasing my ballet to 2x per week. At first, I thought this might not pan out because T has his rock academy on Mondays, and there are only advanced ballet classes on Wednesdays and no classes in the evening on Fridays. But then I remembered that T doesn't have to leave the house until around 7:30pm on Monday nights, and with ballet running from 6-7, I should be able to make it home in time that we can both have our activities on the same night. Tonight was the first night we tried it out.

I was a little nervous about being able to keep up in the intermediate class, but I wound up enjoying myself quite a bit. There was definitely more dancing than in the beginner class. We all had to warm up on our own before class, so we started right away at the barre (on Thursdays we warm up and stretch as a class before barre work).

I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to perform most of the barre work pretty well. Things seemed to move faster than in the other class, but in some ways I think that worked to my favor. With ADD, it's hard to keep track of things in my head (hence why it takes me so long to knit-- I'm constantly making little marks on paper to keep track of my stitches. . .). With the slower ballet moves, there is time for me to forget what count I'm on or what move I'm supposed to be doing when, since my mind can drift between moves. But when things are moving a little faster (as they were in the intermediate class today), I actually found it a bit easier to concentrate and keep up with the routines. I didn't have time to daydream between switching directions, my mind only had time to follow along; fondue, flex, point front, fondue, flex, point side, fondue, flex, strike front. . .zip zip zip right along.

This was the most unexpected thing about class. It hadn't occurred to me that I might find it easier to do the fast moves than the slower ones. I was pretty psyched about that.

The second most unexpected thing about class is that it was co-ed! There was a young man in there! But he did all the same moves as we did. I guess I hadn't given it much thought, what the men do during ballet lessons. I know during performance they're routines are so different, since 1) they're not en pointe, and 2) they spend a lot of time leaping when they are not partnered. But I guess it makes sense that they're exercises would be much the same as the women as far as the basic stuff goes. The only concession our teacher made was during the jumps we did them all 2x, the second set was slowed down to give the boy time to jump to his full potential on the beat; generally, you only jump as high as you can go while landing on the beat, the faster the song, the shorter your jump so you'll come down in time since you can't speed up gravity.

Class ran long, as usual, so I left right at 7pm, after the center floor work but before the cross-floor work. Which actually worked out fine-- the class was faster paced than the beginner class, and there was a fair amount of time spent dancing around the center of the room (which requires more energy than dancing at the barre), so I had gotten my heart rate up and was satisfied with the amount of workout I had gotten already. The cross-floor work would have been fine, but gratuitous.

I have to pretty heavily modify the cross-floor work now, anyway, since I restrict myself to low-impact ballet only. Which means I don't do any jumps or leaps or hops. I keep one foot (or at least toes) on the floor at all times so I don't do anything too jarring where I could land wrong and twist an ankle or anything. For most of the work (stretching, barre, center) I don't have to modify much. Sometimes in the center I'll substitute a step here or there that would ordinarily require a small hop, but for the most part I can follow along closely.

But cross-floor work is pretty heavily modified. We do lots of gallops and skips and leaps. But when I do them, I'm just kind of stepping high with one leg, because I'm not up in the air I have to pause and hold in places, and I don't make it all the way across the floor because I don't travel as far with each step when you cut out the air time. So it's probably just as well that I'm not tyring to figure out modifications in the intermediate class. I don't mind so much about not sticking to the script in the beginner class-- it is the most basic level after all, and if people with special exercise limitations can't be accommodated there, then where?

Plus it's nice that I already know the other girls there (the boy I just met tonight) because they used to go to the beginner class with me (Ibby still attends from time-to-time on Thursdays). So I'm looking forward first to Thursday (my first week taking two lessons per week), then again next Monday. This should both increase my fitness level, and my ballet skill level.