Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dance Like a Ballerina

I don't own ballet shoes, I've never had a tutu and the only time you'll find me tuning into Dancing with the Stars is when my other TV options go on commercial--all of them. So what, then, was I doing at Equinox for a dance class? Because it's not every day that you can attend a group fitness class taught by professional Joffrey Ballet dancers. Even if you do trip over your own two feet, lack coordination and look about as graceful as a penguin walking across a room.

Equinox Fitness Clubs and The Joffrey Ballet have teamed up once again (they first partnered up in the spring) to offer a ballet-inspired group fitness class for the fall. Classes started October 5 and run through November 10 at two Equinox locations, 900 N. Michigan and Lincoln Park. Coinciding with The Joffrey's production of Don Quixote, which runs October 12-23, dancers will lead class-goers through a marriage of Spanish dance and Bolshoi ballet moves.


Considering the last ballet I saw was The Nutcracker (and I think I was 10 at most) and I've only heard of this world-class troupe, my mind was begging me to mix up my fitness routine--I even skipped my favorite spinning class--to attend class. While my sweat wasn't even close to as plentiful as it would have been in Spinning, my body needed that bike break--and appreciated it. How to tell? Your legs ache during a warm-up to stretch out the body, your core kills when you're instructed to flutter kick your raised legs, and you suddenly have a new-found admiration for dancers and the work they put into their craft. Oh, and plies hurt. Big time.

But the part that came somewhat easy, surprisingly, were the dance steps. That would be thanks to our instructor who didn't zip through the sequence (as has happened at other group fitness classes elsewhere) and described the moves in an easy-to-understand way. Sure, I still looked jerky compared to the reflections of those behind me in the mirror (note to self: avoid the front of the room at all costs) and was often half a step behind, but I didn't feel that rhythmically challenged. The more we repeated the steps at the sequence's start, the more I got the hang of those. But drape an imaginary cape in front of my body? Extend back with flare like the flamenco dancers I watched in awe in Spain? That's when the faltering started, though I'll blame that on my own inflexibility and being a first-timer. But with a class varies by week and instructor, I may never see those steps again. Ballerina I'm not, but I can fake my way through a new round--or at least try.

Where to find this Don Quixote-inspired workout:

Equinox Gold Coast
900 North Michigan Avenue
Wednesdays, October 5 through November 9
8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Equinox Lincoln Park
1750 North Clark Street
Thursdays, October 6 through November 10
7:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
Photo grabbed from Equinox.

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