Going Barre Core

Two summers ago, I purchased The Dancer’s Body Book by Allegra Kent, during the rise of the Natalie Portman as Black Swan. However, it wasn’t until recently that I started flicking through the pages, in search for inspiration and new cross training techniques to implement. Unfortunately, I’m off to a rocky start, and the slightly arrogant tone of Kent’s book certainly isn’t jump starting my motivation by any means. 

The Black Swan Diet, by New York Post reporter Mary Huhn, capitalized on the momentum of Black Swan and created her own four week “Swan-strong” diet program based upon the training and dietary restrictions Portman subjugated herself to, so as to create a body fit for the demands of point ballet, and the dual roles of dueling swans, Odette and Odile. Though her 1200 calorie diet is impressive, as a meat lover, I fear about adequate protein intake (despite having a very knowledgeable vegetarian sister).  As Brian Moylan so elegantly put it, “The Black Swan Diet Will Not Make You Look Like Natalie Portman,” so like many fad diets, I am extremely hesitant to jump on the band wagon and punish my body. Seeing how dangerously thin Portman became for the role scares me. If I were to drop below 120 pounds, I think I would look sickly not strong.

Growing up, I took dance classes, and one of my earliest recitals was none other than one of the famed tunes from Swan Lake. Now, don’t go getting all excited, I believe I was six or seven years old. The same year, my sister got to perform “Memory” from Cats, complete with popping out of large garbage cans (to which I am still eternally jealous). From what I can remember, out of all the genres of dance I tried growing up, I always felt most comfortable with ballet (despite my continual complaints of my feet hurting). In recent years, I took ballroom dancing classes, which I truly enjoyed as well. One gets all the benefits of cardio and grace without having to worry about leotards.

Running has been my mainstay over the last few years, but I’ve realized that I have hit that inevitable plateau. Without cross training and healthy dietary choices, I will not be able to achieve the optimum results I wish to achieve.While I have been adding some weight training, I find that I am bulking up instead of developing lean muscle. I love the slender look many dancers and yogis have, especially the strong but slender legs. When I was in my teens, volleyball and cheer leading helped me in shape, however, I became self-conscious about how thick my thighs got. I had nice definition, but it made me shy to wear a skirt or shorts. Even now, I struggle with body image insecurities like most people, but slowly, I am learning to be comfortable with who I am.

Previously, I belonged to a gym but with the irregular schedule I keep, I am finding it difficult to make such a commitment worth the money I invest in it. Also, relocating will place me in a smaller apartment with minimal free space for anything (with the exception of yoga). I think my best bet would be logging gym hours while at the layover hotels in Japan, and see about joining the YMCA, so I can get some pool time and fitness classes while I am enjoying the days between work. Unfortunately, the Y nearby doesn’t offer ballet (or similar core training courses), so perhaps I may need to invest in a DVD (or download-ready) series like Ballerobica which I could attempt in my apartment or take on the road with me.

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