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Everything's Beautiful At The Ballet.

Everything's Beautiful At The Ballet.

Robert Barham discovered, at the age of six that he had a heart murmur. Under the care of Dr Jane Somerville he was monitored and some years later surgery was performed by Dr Donald Ross to close a hole in the heart (Ventricular Septal Defect) and remove a blockage that was forming. Since then there have been a few ups and downs but, on the whole, life has been good. 

He writes: 

For the past 25 years or so, I have been a member at a gym in west London, and for many of those years you would have found me on the treadmill, training for a 10k or half marathon. As much as I still love running and lifting the odd weight, I felt my ageing body was starting to get a little inflexible; that I needed to go outside of my comfort zone and take up something a little bit different. 

I have always loved dance in all forms, but apart from a brief spot of ballroom dancing, have never had the time, or feet, to invite it into my life. So, when my regular Thursday circuit training class was no longer available, I looked around for something else to do. I could fit in yet another treadmill run, or push a few more weights, but I thought I'd see what had replaced my now defunct class. I peaked in and saw a ballet barre in the middle of the floor and a number of ladies about to plié. Well, I had said I wanted to get outside my comfort zone, so, I decided to give it a go. 

The day after my first class, I discovered that I actually had a rib cage and hips that could move separately from each other, not just a torso. Although my legs ached a bit from attempting to plié and relevé (or is it relevé then plié?), I had loved every single minute of it and felt I had found exactly the zone outside of my comfort I needed. 

As the weeks went by I noticed I was standing straighter, and also a tiny bit taller. My posture had also started to improve. I suffer from a double scoliosis, so my spine in slightly curved both ways, so anything that helps with that is great. My balance has improved (well we do seem to spend a lot of time standing on one leg in class!)  and I find myself attempting to have a shape to my arms that Craig Revel Horwood would be proud of!

I have attended a lot of gym classes over the years, everything from aerobics to weight lifting, but none have I found is as rewarding as this. In a class just a few weeks ago I found myself rather emotional. If I hadn't taken this step outside my comfort zone, I never would have had the chance to experience this beautiful art form in my life, and it would have been my loss. 

The class is very well thought out by instructor Emily Spriggs, or Miss Emily as my 10 year old daughter calls her, as "all ballet teachers should be called Miss" she informs me! The class also includes a little bit of pilates, some stretching and ends with a ten minute relaxation and deep breathing session.

Taking up a ballet barre class has been one of the best things I've ever done. It may be a step outside many comfort zones, but our bodies are designed to move in so many different ways. In many sports our movements are rather limited and if we don't deliberately change and challenge those limited movements we can become rather stiff and inflexible. Ballet is just one of the many ways to keep flexible and help with our core strength, but it is not something to be feared. So go on, join the chorus line and find out, as the song goes, everything is beautiful at the ballet. 

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