The Extension Method: ballet meets fitness

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Photo courtesy of Jennifer Nichols

I believe that it’s (almost) every little girl’s dream to become a ballerina. To prance around in a pretty pink tutu on a grand stage in front of a large audience starring as the lead in Swan Lake. It was mine until my dad introduced me to sports and so I became a total tomboy. And then I fell in love with writing so throwing around a ball felt like a rather boring pass time.

It’s sad though, isn’t it? Not being able to do all the things you wished to do when you were little? Having to choose a path at such a young age without really experiencing everything? Well, my ballet dreams came true recently but in a slightly different and highly painful way.

The Extension Method; a workout regimen pioneered by professional dancer and founder Jennifer Nichols which combines classical dance techniques with strength and cross training exercises using weights and complex movement sequences. Basically, it is a complete ballet workout for everyone that touches on cardio training and advanced co-ordination development. Intriguing, right? I couldn’t wait to try it!

2014-06-16 11.55.09-2On a Monday afternoon, I made my way to The Extension Room where I immediately found peace in a beautiful, all white studio complete with pretty chandeliers and white chiffon curtains. As I waited for Nichols to arrive for the 12:30 p.m. EM Barre 101 class, I was mentally preparing myself for something I had zero experience in. I mean, a ballet workout at the age of 23? What was I thinking!

A few minutes later, Nichols arrived and greeted me with a friendly smile which immediately made me comfortable with what was to come next. There was one other girl who was joining us so that really took the pressure off me. My biggest fear is to make a fool of myself in front of a crowd–especially in a fitness setting.

We each grabbed a weight and headed over to the barre and faced the mirror. Then the class began. Nichols taught us everything from perfecting your posture by finding balance in your body to opening up your leg muscles and letting your hips support you. A concept my body was not too happy about, but it physically felt right once the hour was up. So for those of you who think ballet is for sissies, you’re dead wrong.

The Extension Method is effective but challenging; a challenge that will make you really push yourself to the next level because it’s simply a fun way to work out your body. The post-barre feeling is painful but a good kind of painful. My legs feel stronger, my posture is a little better and I feel a lot more confident going into my next class.