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Ballet for your belly

Recent years have seen a surge in the popularity of ballet-inspired workouts, which claim to help people achieve a lithe, sinewy body by using a combination of body-weight exercises, stretching and the ubiquitous ballet barre.

The barre craze has spawned studios nationwide. For people who don’t want to shell out $20 or more for a class or who prefer to learn the basics of barre in the comfort of their own homes, there is a new DVD on the market.

“Exhale: Core Fusion Barre Basics for Beginners” includes seven 10-minute workouts designed to work the thighs, butt, back and abs. The DVD combines the Lotte Berk Method, the barre routine developed by dancer Lotte Berk more than 40 years ago, with other disciplines, including yoga, Pilates and basic calisthenics, such as push-ups. A chair takes the place of the ballet barre.

The DVD’s creators, husband-and-wife team Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp, say the program is appropriate for beginners thanks to a set of tutorials breaking down the movements. But exercises such as grand plie squats – squats done with feet wide, heels up and toes pointed out – are far from easy, proving to be a challenge for even seasoned fitness buffs.

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