Ballet-inspired fitness classes may be all the rage these days, but when professional dancers Alison Carroll and Lisha Chin tried them out, they wanted more. The former Singapore Dance Theatre ballerinas, who became freelance Barre and dance instructors after they retired last year, wanted to add their own spin to dance workouts.
“We spent the majority of our lives doing ballet and had an idea of how we would teach it, so we created one,” says Chin. “The thing about ballet is you have to be both strong and flexible, which is what makes the physique of dancers look unique. That also requires a unique style of training.”
Dance dance revolution
Enter Balletbody, a workout they created and which incorporates exercises and movements from classical ballet and pilates. One of the key differences between Balletbody and Barre – one of the most common programmes available – is that their classes use the barre for warm-ups before progressing to the centre of the room, while the latter focuses mostly on barre exercises.
Before taking the plunge and committing to launching the Balletbody studio, the pair began by renting a dance studio where they held a couple of classes a week, which soon grew to 10 classes – and proved that there was a demand for the system they had created. Encouraged by their family to strike out on their own, they finally opened their studio on Pagoda Street this January, where they now teach 20 classes every week.
While they emphasise that Balletbody is suitable for dancers and non-dancers alike, they do take particular pleasure when they meet other former ballet dancers stepping in for a class. “We get a lot of clients who used to do ballet when they were young,” says Carroll, “When we see them coming through the door and telling us that this is what they’ve been looking for, it makes me so glad we started this. I feel like I am bringing something precious to someone.”
How they keep fit
Outside the dance studio, the two have diametrically opposite fitness regimens to maintain their lithe dancers’ bodies. Carroll, the more reserved of the two prefers stretching and practising pilates. Chin, who is more outgoing, opts for HIIT (high intensity interval training) and cardio exercises. She also trains and teaches at F45, a circuit training gym.
But what they both agree on is that ballet going mainstream as an exercise style might just be what it takes for the dance to experience a revival. Says Chin, “Ballet’s become a bit of a dying art, and not many people go to watch it anymore. But with the current popularity of ballet fitness, even people who don’t dance think ballet is cool. As dancing is such a hard career, it is really nice to see this effort not being wasted.”