Tuesday, July 02 2019

Tired of the same ole work and recovery drills?  Unleash the inner dancer in your students and transform your interval/HIIT class into a ballet performance extraordinaire.  Australian AEA Training Specialist, Claire Barker-Hemings, shares a workout that maintains intensity while adding a creative theme to your programming.

Aqua Ballet Beats is a very unique approach to interval training that uses powerful ballet-inspired jumps, kicks and leaps for the work cycles and slower, graceful arm movements for the recovery.   Freestyle instructors will feel comfortable with this routine as most of the moves are taught linear/drill style. The main portion of the workout is interval based and features 45-seconds work cycles, followed by 15-second recovery cycles.  As in most interval workouts, the music basically serves as background, as students are encouraged to work at their own pace. 

Ballet neophytes are encouraged to watch the video.  Aside from picking up some fun new interval ideas, you get to watch ME attempt to do ballet.   Editing the video and cringing at my botched form, it occurred to me that this is probably a good representation of what you can expect from the average class participant.  The camera clearly revealed a middle-aged man clueless about ballet and incapable of pointing his toes or loosening up his arms.  Consequently, my jetes and sautés looked more like the Tin Man performing a flexed-foot hoedown at the county cornfest.  Thankfully, the goal here is not to achieve ballet perfection, but rather to add a fun new twist to your exercise programming.


Warm-up/Movement Directory
The warm-up in this video is actually an underwater tutorial of how the moves SHOULD be performed.   Claire does the honors here.   This is an ideal way to structure the warm-up as the students get a preview of the moves to come.

Segment 1:  Sauté
Sautés translate into jumps in aquatic fitness.  Four different ballet jumps are performed for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of recovery.  Each segment closes with one minute of Adage (slow graceful movement).

Segment 2:  Jetes
Jetes involve quick and light springing movements.  The aquatic environment is an ideal training environment for these kinds of moves as there is much less impact landing on the pool floor thanks to the upward lift of buoyancy. 

Segment 3:  Grand Battement
Grand Battement is a fancy term for kicks.  This segment showcases 3 different kick intervals and then puts all three kicks together in the last interval.   Fun!

Segment 4:  Beats
In ballet, a dancer can make a jump more difficult by adding beats, or extra movements.   Once again, the water is an ideal practice location, as the jumps require more height when adding beats.  Claire introduces the beats in this segment from a suspended position to better understand the actions of the feet and ankles.

Segment 5:  Grand Jete
The springing is increased to a larger leaping movement in the Grand Jete.  Leaps are always popular in aquatic fitness.  Now you just need to add ballet flair with some fancy arms and head throws. 

Segment 6:  Final Performance
Ta-da!  The finale is always my favorite part in a choreography class.   In this ballet final performance, the moves previously taught in the intervals all come together in a user-friendly (linear) style.  The students get to show off their memory, their ballet prowess and their dramatic flair. 

Music Recommendations
Instructing a class with work/recovery cycles allows the instructor more variety in music as the cadence and phrasing is not required like it would be in choreography.  Instrumental music is always a good choice because it helps keep the focus on the movement, avoiding the distraction of vocals and sing-along Karaoke.  Classical music would be ideal as it would give the routine an authentic ballet feel.  Fitness music (32-count) can also be used in this routine.  In her classes, Claire uses Petra’s Ibiza Club from Yes! Fitness Music for the interval section. “I wanted an upbeat instrumental playlist as the class was based around the allegro section of a ballet class which is all about fast jumps,” says Claire.   For the final performance, Claire uses Hooked on Classics –Tchaikovsky.  At IAFC, I got to take Claire’s Aqua Ballet Beats session and I watched her perform a dramatic Russian Split on deck at the conclusion of her amped up Tchaikovsky final performance.  (Caution:  Don’t attempt this at home!)

Fitmotivation extends a big thank you and a big bouquet of flowers to Claire for her royal ballet performance.  Claire is an AEA International Training Specialist based in Melbourne.  She is also an independent consultant and regional vice president for Arbonne International. 

Enjoy transforming your aqua interval class into a ballet performance.  For additional aqua ballet adaptations, intervals, choreography and more, check out the Fitmotivation video, Aqua Allegro, featuring Ashley Bishop.

And now I will leave you with a Ballet BuhBye in Swan Lake tradition.


Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.