As a little girl, I used to prance around in my living room—donning a tutu—pretending that I was the princess in Swan Lake. While my childhood dream of becoming a ballerina never came to fruition (I can barely even point my toes without getting a Charlie horse), I’ve at least been able to live out that fantasy by taking a barre class here and there.
The low impact workout is known for its small movements—from pliés to pulses—that look graceful but blend aspects of Pilates, yoga, ballet, and boot camp in order to seriously burn. This of course results in ballerina-esque toned and lifted muscles.
Much to my (and every other ballet lover’s) joy, there’s now a Swan Lake-inspired workout that takes your barre game to the next level. Created by professionally trained ballerina Sassy Gregson-Williams, founder of Naturally Sassy and its corresponding online workout studio, the Swan Lake Leg Sculpt sequence is meant to use your body as resistance to help you gain strength and flexibility—all from the comfort of your own home with no equipment required.
To evoke the stars of the ballet—and lengthen your gams as you do so—try this regimen at home, 12 reps at 4 sets, alternating right and left legs.
Keep scrolling for the Swan Lake Leg Sculpt workout.
“This exercise is my go-to for toned legs, working the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and inner thighs,” says Gregson-Williams. “As you pivot from the second position into the lunge, you’ll engage through the abdominals and back muscles, which act as stabilizers during the exercise.”
1. Start in a turned out second position feeling the big toe anchored into the mat, making sure your knees are aligned over toes. Squeeze the glutes forward to help lock the turnout. The arms are also in a second position, the shoulder blades retract, and the arms slope down from shoulder to fingers, with the elbow lifted.
2. From your starting position, transfer your weight onto the supporting leg while lifting the other heel off the mat.
3. Pivot into the swan lunge. The majority of your body weight should be on the front foot—so make sure in this position that your hips and shoulders are level. The hands are slightly in front of your head, with wrists touching and elbows soft.
4. To repeat this exercise to the other side, reverse the movement back to the starting position.
Lunge and launch
“This exercise tests your balance, engaging the core for stability throughout,” says Gregson-Williams. “It’ll particularly work your glutes, quads, hip flexors, and calves while improving your coordination and core strength.”
1. Start in a lunge where hips are level and arms are in a fifth position overhead. The majority of your body weight should be on your front foot in preparation of the next position.
2. Push off from the lunge, driving your knee towards your chest. The arms simultaneously move from fifth position to first, framing the knee. The chest is lifted, and shoulder blades are retracted back and down.
Passé and extend
“This exercise lengthens the hamstrings while contracting and toning the quad and hip flexor muscles,” says Gregson-Williams. “Your core will engage to control the balance and help your quads hold the leg in extension for a second longer.”
1. Start in a parallel passé with first position of arms, framing your knee. Feel the big toe pushing into the floor, allowing you to find stability as you lock the alignment of your knee over your toes.
2. Maintain the height of your knee and extend the lower leg. The arms also lengthen with the opposite arm to leg pointing in front and the other pointing to the side.
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