Prepare To Be In Pain

Those were the opening words from our new barre & stretch teacher on Monday.


Previous teachers mostly set the pace of the class for the benefit of the inflexible people in attendance, rather than the more flexible among us, which means I rarely get anything out of the class. However, our new teacher does no such thing. He gives us proper stretches for dancers and after only two classes with him I have already seen improvements.

A few years ago I tore my left hamstring, which unattached itself from my hipbone, and whilst it wasn't sore per se, I completely lost flexibility on my left side - I couldn't even bend down to tie my shoelaces. It took almost a year to get it back fully. Then last December I tore my left calf muscle which meant I couldn't do any form of stretching to the left for more than a month (the crutches saw to that!). In that time I lost my splits entirely on the left. It's all healed now but for some reason the hamstring is playing up at the spot of the previous injury, so I have pain there when I stretch. Usually I can't get my left side splits even if I warm up lots, however, two of his classes and I had them back again.

He does the standard stretches at the barre, where we begin by placing our leg on the barre and bending forwards, sideways and backwards.

Side front back

We then go onto to do splits stretches to the side.


But on Monday he got us split stretches in arabasque. This is first time I have ever done this and it was great. It really works the back muscles.

This image is as close as I can find, but the difference is the front leg is way forward so we are in the splits.


We then went onto do some stretches to improve our extensions. You grab your heel and pull your leg to the front then to the side. The ultimate aim is to let go and for your leg to stay where it is.

393c4d6e7a57df0ca44fa6aa60aef017That's where I can get my leg to when I hold it, but it won't stay there when I let go.

We then move into the centre and work the hip flexors before we go into the front splits. I was thrilled when I could do them to the left again.

He's very 'hands on'. If he thinks you can go further in the stretch he pushes you deeper into it. I sometimes find when I'm stretching I tense my muscles, which makes it harder to stretch, but when he pushes me I can relax completely and go much further into the stretch. Guess what job Prince B has from now on?!

We also did some side splits stretches, but no amount of stretching in the world is going to give me the side splits. It just won't happen. I'm going to content myself by working on the over-splits to the front. I reckon I can do this to the right fairly quickly.

Sadly he won't be with us for the next three weeks due to his own ballet commitments, but hopefully the stand-in teacher will continue his regime.

In the meantime, I still hurt from the top of head to the tips of my toes. He wasn't lying.