Post Partum Ballet
People always ask me how I do it all, I have three kids now, a job, another job...then another job, and then I also do a lot of volunteering and crazy things like build a chair for my daughter and make my own lavender oil. I also am at some points religious about exercise and then also sometimes indulgent in whatever I want to eat...hence at the moment of writing this post I still have a belly where if I'm not paying attention, it could be 1st trimester. My core muscles are strong but I have fairly large babies and I do put on a good amount of weight during my pregnancies and my core gets pretty wrecked each time (see post about Diastasis Recti). So, I don't really use my side profile as a gauge of my fitness progress, I often go by firstly HOW I FEEL and then I also go by the compliment meter. I have noticed though that my limbs are shrinking so my theory is that it goes from the outer extremities and gets to my middle last! So, I'm an apple and weight gain at my middle is the hardest for me to lose. The answer to the first question is that I don't do it all, I only do some of ALL of it at any given time. Sometimes I'm doing laundry, some times I'm purging the toy bin of odd lost parts, some times I'm freelancing, some times I'm blogging, some times I'm just momming. I do try to put fitness at the forefront but I can't always. I gauge by how my body feels and I do it for me. I don't have a goal to lose weight. Of course it is always a bonus when people say 'wow, you look great! You lost a lot of weight' even though I actually haven't. I just take it as a measure that I'm feeling better about myself and it shows.
So, I had to really really tone down my fitness enthusiasm with my last pregnancy. I just didn't want to exacerbate my Diastasis Recti and I was having planter fasciitis which I'm experiencing right now as well. I've changed from doing cardio kick boxing, spinning, step, zumba, etc. to doing pilates and barre. Even standing or walking are quite challenging for me. At my job I stand almost all day which in a way is good to prevent being sedentary but it really takes a toll on my feet. I didn't have plantar fasciitis before the baby but I did develop a bit during each pregnancy. This is the first time that it's persisted. I've been wearing special shoes for it which has helped a lot.
I decided to put my gym membership on hold when I wasn't able to get to the barre and pilates classes and I was just going to the spin room to watch ballet videos. I had discovered Sleek Technique which is a London based ballet online workout that I really enjoyed doing from time to time. When I put my membership on hold I considered doing Sleek but then I did some googling and thought I would try Ballet Beautiful.
Why did I try ballet? Well, back when I was working as a designer at TRX (www.trxtraining.com) and doing TRX every day, I was also pregnant and found a groupon for Barre3. I would go to work early and use the gym at work to do Barre3 workouts. I found that the TRX really made my Diastasis Recti worse so my last trimester I did mostly Barre3 and cycling to and from work (#crazymomonwheels). Barre3 was great but I got kind of bored with the routines. It wasn't quite barre and wasn't quite pilates. I sort of liked the feeling of doing real ballet.
I used to be a figure skater and have my gold test medal in Moves in the Field (that makes sense to no one but anyways) and was working on my Dance Silver test when I fell pregnant with my first child and figure skating has a lot of ballet elements in it. I also had taken ballet at the community college in Pasadena for one semester and I do recall at the time how thin and fit I was at that time. I religiously skated 3 times a week and I also did the ballet and photos from that time, I looked amazing! I remember getting together with a coworker who also took ballet class and we were both happily surprised by how great we were looking by just having fun! Although the ballet didn't seem very cardio intensive, I was feeling and looking good.
After all this foot pain from the pregnancy, I had all but resolved that what really makes me and my body happy is to just be in motion and strengthening itself. I don't really buy into burning a certain number of calories anymore (a sharp deviation from the days where I'd go on the elliptical AFTER spinning class and not get off until my heart rate monitor showed I had burned 1000 calories) mostly because I believe that the body self balances. As long as I am active each day and happy, it doesn't seem to make a great impact in my morphology whether or not I'm doing intense cardio or lifting.
I digress - so I have been doing Ballet Beautiful for I would say 4 months now and I really enjoy it. The work outs are broken down into 6 days and are set up to go with the time available that you have. I do the max suggested so I get about 3 15 minute workouts and 2 5 minute workouts, totaling about an hour of ballet every day with one rest day. I actually have not done a full week of Ballet as I often have those days where the laundry is yelling at me "you'd better not think about working out right now! You have loads of laundry to do!" I just do my best to get in 3-5 ballet workouts a week.
Ballet Beautiful is founded by Mary Helen Bowers who was a NYC ballerina and then she retired and began her own studio. She is most famous for getting Black Swan girl into shape....her name......Natalie Portman! After that she became the go to lady for the other ladies with wings, the Victorias Secret models.
Here are some screen shots of some of the workouts. This is real old school right?
But you know, if you do the number of reps that she does, it really works!
Here she is doing a standing weights session. She has an amazing body and she gets the cardio in there by doing fast paced hops that are all balletic and beautiful.
She does a lot of Swan Lake inspired moves including the Swan Lake arms that you saw in the movie and if you are a skater and remember the Swan Lake Oksana Bauil number. The arms videos, they REALLY HURT!
What I love about it is that the next day I feel my core all buttoned up. It's just the hour of doing ballet that just gets all those lazy muscles to hold in more often than not. After a few days of not doing it, I feel the abs go back, but it really just gives you this overall posture and consciousness because the entire time you are exercising, you are using the core to do all the moves.
Here she is doing a plie exercise. I am surprised that the plie exercises seem quite easy but actually there are times with my feet issues that I really can not do another plie. I've begin to work out in my shoes because I think going barefoot exarcerbates it. But even doing the motions some times without the plies or hops and leaps is also a really good exercise.
What I also love about it is that the workouts rotate, they never get boring or old. There are new ones in the rotation and you can change your focus to see some that you might not have been set up to view. The videos have different focuses so they choose what might better achieve your goals.
Very graceful tricep pushups. I have a little barre I bought when Sports Authority went out of business and I LOVE using it! I have it lowered down so that my 9 month old son can cruise on it while I'm exercising. He just hangs out there and moves along it and plays. When he begins to walk, I'll get my barre back!
I highly recommend this workout. it's affordable and it's eliminated my need to be on standby for all the barre/pilates classes at the gym! I'm never bored, my knees are thanking me, my core feels amazing, and I feel more graceful! My eldest daughter said to me yesterday 'mom, you could be a ballerina if you got skinnier!' Although I have never ever perpetuated the skinny thing, she has caught on that the people she thinks are pretty do NOT have first trimester bellies lol. But every now and then she will say 'mom you're pretty except your hair is short and you are fat.' Kids are so truthful. I really just take it with a grain of salt, I don't internalize it, and I just tell her - well I had a baby and it's really hard to lose my tummy but I'm so happy I have you three cutie pies! BUT the compliment that I dug out of that backhanded kid insult was that she thinks I'm graceful! So, it's working! And, as long as my face looks smaller in photos, I'm happy for now! This is pretty typical for me. I will be leaving the post partum phase soon and then I'll just be overweight but I just have to lose it on my own time. For now, I'm taking my better posture, my gracefulness, my clothes fitting better, and the compliments here and there as wins! There are so many more things in my life to be thankful for than to have a body to envy on social media! But if I do get there I will be sharing it with you all!