Working out while stood at the barre

Ballet Inspired Fitness Class - at The Spinnaker Sports Centre Cambridge Road Portsmouth led by Paula Walsh (39) ''(left to right) Paula Walsh (39), Karen Harris (38), Clare King (34), Ross Lamport (41), and Joel Ryder (31) ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (131011-8839)

Ballet Inspired Fitness Class - at The Spinnaker Sports Centre Cambridge Road Portsmouth led by Paula Walsh (39) ''(left to right) Paula Walsh (39), Karen Harris (38), Clare King (34), Ross Lamport (41), and Joel Ryder (31) ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (131011-8839)

Annette McHugh with daughter Ellie      Picture:  Malcolm Wells (170626-1955)

It’s a family affair at the Aegon Southsea Trophy for the McHughs

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Budding swans are taking part in ballet-based fitness classes that combine grace with grit.

The sessions inspired by classic dance moves allow participants to feel like ballerinas, have fun and work on their poise as well as their physiques.

Paula Walsh, sports duty manager at Portsmouth University Sports and Recreation, runs the classes and says despite the exercises being based on elegance and strength, it’s a very inclusive fitness style.

‘People don’t need to worry, you don’t have to be a ballerina and I can assure you we’re not,’ she says.

‘I’d say it suits most people who want to work on their posture, flexibility, strength and fitness.

‘Basically it works on the same bits as a bums, legs and tums class.’

Paula is calling the sessions Ballet-inspired Fitness. It’s an exercise style that’s catching on around the world but suppliers are giving it slightly different names.

Paula, who learned her pliés and relevés as a child but emphasises she is not a ballet instructor, explains that it is a fitness class using basic classic moves rather than a dance lesson.

Participants begin with a warm-up involving pliés and heel raises and then move to the barre for leg kicks including tendus and battement.

The kicks can be quick and there is an element of cardio workout in the classes with different kinds of ballet jump.

Paula says: ‘We then go on to floor work which is more pilates based.’

It might be a fitness class but participants can also exercise their imaginations and envisage velvet curtains, applause and bouquets as they work on muscle-lengthening and flexibility.

But they are also there to have a good laugh – no one is required to train for Swan Lake, emphasises Paula.

‘I think the great thing about this is that it doesn’t feel like exercise.

‘People are so busy trying some-
thing different and focusing on what they’re doing that they stop thinking about it.’

The other great news is that you don’t need special footwear. Most people work in bare feet or socks.

Paula’s classes run at 5.30pm Tuesdays at the university’s Spinnaker Sports Centre and 9.30am Fridays at Portsmouth Stacey ABC in North End.

For information on the Tuesday class call (023) 9284 5555 and for the Friday class call (07979) 373068.

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