I am not a graceful woman.
I trip over invisible objects, clip walls because I don’t round the corner enough, and often dribble water or wine down my shirt at business meetings. It is what it is.
But even I could channel my inner Anna Pavlova during Ballet Bungee with Chaise Fitness. That’s because this ballet-inspired workout is approachable, quick and, most importantly, fun. Were my arm movements fluid and awe-inspiring? No. But they were purposeful, and my pliés were powerful, and ten minutes in, I was sweating the way only a good workout can make you sweat.
Created by real-life badass-ballerina Rachel Piskin, the fitness routine uses an overhead bungee system to sculpt arms and legs while building core strength. It’s a full-body workout that creates an open posture, lean upper muscles and long, sculpted legs and glutes.
A former professional dancer for the New York City Ballet, Piskin was inspired by her passion for music and movement.
“I wanted the program’s foundation to be based on traditional ballet technique, while infusing elements of Pilates, cardio, and full-body sculpting,” she says.
Instead of using a barre – which, Piskin explains, can actually be more of a crutch if you’re not familiar with true ballerina form – she prefers the bungee chords because they provide an unstable surface.
“You are constantly engaging your core and challenging your balance,” says Piskin. “That creates long and lean dancer-like muscles.”
Piskin designed Ballet Bungee for Chaise Fitness, which she co-owns with her mother, Lauren Piskin. A competitive figure skater herself, Lauren founded and ran Physicalmind Pilates studio. Her inspiration to start Chaise came out of a desire to “get Pilates off its back and bring it into the modern upbeat vibe of New York City.”
Chaise now has three locations. There are two in the Upper East Side (one is for private sessions) and a Flatiron studio. I took my class at the 92Y in the Upper East Side. The space is bright and contemporary, and class sizes are small. I counted spots for eight students.
Rachel starts the session with a stretching warm-up and quick run-through on how to use the bungees. Then, she jumps right into 30 minutes of pliés, tendus and attitudes timed to Top 40 dance music. The last 15 minutes of class are spent on the matt, using the bungee chords for resistance during crunches and arm workouts.
I have to say, Rachel is the ideal instructor. She is upbeat and easy to follow and understand. When she’s not demonstrating a routine, she’s gliding through the studio offering discreet and helpful corrections on form and posture.
“It’s a class that makes you remember what it feels like to be a young girl experiencing ballet for the first time,” she says. “But you’re also challenging your coordination, balance and musicality, keeping your mind engaged throughout the class.”
Ballet Bungee is good for all fitness levels because you can modify your speed and intensity as needed. It’s mostly focused on strength training and balance, but a series of quick and lively movements will get your heart pumping. You can expect to burn anywhere from 300 to 400 calories per 45-minute session.
Unlike other of-the-moment workouts, Ballet Bungee doesn’t require any special gear or clothing. Just bring your sneakers and a willingness to sweat.
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