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NYC Ballet soloist Unity Phelan’s 5 easy moves to get long, lean muscles

Despite what your annual Nutcracker performance might portray, behind the graceful facade and finesse of ballet are literal blood, sweat and tears. And for those who may feel like its not a sport, PUMA wants to change your mind with its En Pointe collection, created in collaboration with the prestigious New York City Ballet.

unity phelan
New York City Ballet’s soloist, Unity Phelan.

And what better way to showcase the sheer tenacity of the performing art than by inviting its soloist, Unity Phelan, to lead a gruelling ballet-inspired workout in Singapore.

Decked out in PUMA’s En Pointe gear, the sprightly ballerina conducted the class with such poise and elegance that we would never have guessed she landed earlier that morning.

The PUMA PHENOM Satin from the En Pointe collection this spring.

The collection — a fusion of athleticism and femininity — showcases wide straps, woven details and an amalgamation of pleated and ribbed textures for structure. Then there’s the colours; a delicate mix of muted colours — to show the long lines of the body — on satin fabrics make the entire collection wearable no matter the occasion.

And as a ballerina whose body is of utmost importance to the art, Phelan keeps her body in top form by swimming or hitting the elliptical machine. “So much of ballet is maintenance,” she mused. “Human beings aren’t meant to do ballet; it’s not natural and doesn’t feel right. You’re not supposed to be able to put your legs in that position, you’re not supposed to touch your toes to your head — it’s not anatomically correct. Which is why so much that we do is to prevent injury. Working out isn’t so much as a way to keep fit for me because I’m dancing all day, but more for preventative measures.”

Phelan’s hectic schedule of dancing and training allows her to eat as much as she wants.

Despite her long, lean, and quite frankly, to-die-for physique, her active schedule allows her to eat anything she wants. Yes, that includes her favourite cookies, ice cream and sweets.

While ballet is notorious for being an exceptionally physically and mentally demanding performance art which requires unnatural contortions, Phelan is keen to point out that everyone can incorporate ballet into their regular workout routine too. These five moves not only lengthen your muscles while toning them, but will also improve coordination. Besides, we could all use a bit more grace while trying to keep fit.

The PUMA En Pointe collection is available in all Singapore outlets and online today.

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Circle Abs

1.   Lay on your back with your feet firmly planted on the floor and your knees pointing to the ceiling. In this position be sure to activate your lower abs and keep your spine pressed into the ground.

2.   Put your arms up in front of your chest and round the elbows until the fingertips meet. In ballet, this is called first positon with the arms.

3.   Curling your back up off the ground leading with your right shoulder. Circle your chest up to the center and then to the right. Repeat this circle motion five times and then repeat staring your shoulders to the left.

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Grand Plié

1.   Standing in parallel, turn your toes out and heels together. This is first position of the feet. Brush one leg to the side, keeping the foot on the ground and the heel forward. Place it down so your heals are just outside your hips while maintaining the turnout. This is second position of the feet, and the position we will be using for this exercise.

2.   Next, bend your knees over your toes to reach a ninety-degree angle with your calf and thigh, then come up. Repeat this exercise 5 or more times.

3.   To add a challenge, you can bring your arms up to frame your head, what we call fifth position of the arms.

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1.   Returning to the first position of the feet with our heals right under the body, place your arms out to the side in what we call second position of the arms.

2.   Bring your right leg up behind you into what dancers call arabesque, keeping the knee as straight as you can. This position is best achieved if your back is kept as long and high as possible. Alternate with the left leg.

3.   Repeat the right and left arabesques ten times in total.

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Tendu Side Leg Raise

1.   In first position, bring your arms out to the side. Brush the right leg directly side keeping your heel forward, trying to keep it as turned out as possible. Lift your leg approximately ten inches off the ground. Place the foot back down to the ground and close to first.

2.   Repeat this exercise with the left leg.

3.   Continue alternating right and left to total in ten repetitions.

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Front Brush Lunge

1.   In First position with your arms out to the side, Tendu one leg to the front pressing your heel up to the ceiling. Once your leg is in front of your nose on the ground, lunge onto the leg, keeping the foot turned out. Press the heel forward in this knee bend, and then straighten the leg and return to the tendu position and close back into first position.

2.   Repeat this with the left leg.

3.   After five repetitions on each leg, for an extra challenge, you can try lifting your leg off the ground to the front, pushing into a lunge, and then returning to the position with the leg elevated.

4.   This challenges the balance of the body and will ensure that you are centered and ready for your day.

NYC Ballet soloist Unity Phelan’s 5 easy moves to get long, lean muscles

Shatricia Nair

Managing Editor

Shatricia Nair has a passion for motoring, beauty, and wellness, and is perpetually knee-deep in the world of V8s, retinols, and latest fitness trends. She has nine years of experience writing for digital media, and her bylines have appeared in Prestige, and Augustman. She'll do (almost) anything for good chocolate chip cookies.

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