Plié, tendu, relevé. The moves were reminiscent of our favorite ballet classes from childhood, but there was one major difference: bungee cords.
At Chaise23 in the Flatiron district of New York, we arrived eager to learn the ropes from Rachel Piskin, New York City Ballet alum and creator of the Ballet Bungee workout. With poised and still-perfect Balanchine technique, she demonstrated a series of grand plies, jumps and arabesques — all while pressing, pulling and curling resistant cords hanging from the ceiling above.
In the quick-paced, hour-long session we worked just about every part of the body (with a muscle-quivering emphasis on the glutes, legs and core). And while most movements came straight from center stage, the bungees added the resistance you’d expect from a high-intensity strength workout. It didn’t hurt that balance and coordination (without any tricky choreography) were also challenged throughout the class.
To finish strong, we left our dangling ropes and headed to the wall, where we gabbed onto another set of bungees for core work. We performed a series of Pilates-inspired core exercises while simultaneously working the upper body with bungee lat pull-downs, tricep extensions and bicep curls. (Who says ballerinas can’t be athletes too?)
Finally, as we melted into the mats for our cool down, we used the resistance bungees — once more — to help release the tension in our hip flexors, hamstrings and obliques while lengthening our lines.
Though our ballet careers may have peaked when we were nine, we left feeling taller, stronger, more graceful and totally ready for curtain call.