The most rewarding types of exercise often accomplish several things simultaneously: building strength while encouraging flexibility, for instance, or improving balance while pumping your heart. The BalleCore program is a great case in point. The technique combines the centering and toning benefits of yoga, the core-focused approach of Pilates, and the grace and flexibility of ballet -- but you don't have to be a dancer or a yogi to enjoy it.
Created by Molly Weeks, a certified Pilates instructor with a background in dance and yoga and author of "The BalleCore Workout," the program offers an accessible way to tone and stretch while improving your alignment. "BalleCore couples strength with fluidity and includes movements you don't always get to do in real life," says Weeks. "BalleCore expands on core strengthening by incorporating fluid motion -- side bends, spiral motions, and rotations -- that open up the body and feel really good."
To facilitate this full-body workout, Weeks incorporates a 4-foot-long wooden staff, or "barre." Held in various positions as part of the exercises, it helps promote balance, stability, and good posture. BalleCore sells this optional tool designed specifically for the program, but Weeks says a 4-foot-long, 1 1/4-inch dowel from your local hardware store makes a suitable stand-in. (Or try just holding onto a sturdy chair for balance.) The added challenge of using a tool can help improve balance and overall muscle tone.
Improves posture, focuses the mind, creates alignment, opens up the body, and releases tension.