“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success…”
In order to create an external shift, you need to shift something internally…
Usually classes tend to become quiet around this time of year. Interestingly though, classes have been busier than ever. Which is fabulous for two reasons; firstly you’re not waiting until the new year to kick goals and secondly because you’re making time for you during a typically busy time of year.
However, I’ve had many conversations like this over the past couple of weeks…
‘Georgia. What can I do at home to improve?’
‘Umm, there’s a few small things you can do at home. I can show you a few swiss ball/floor/turnout exercises to do. Or calf rises! You can never go wrong with some calf rises whilst waiting in line at the grocery store…’
‘Yeah, but I want to get better quickly!’
‘Honestly, the big secret is… come to class. Consistency and patience is key.’
‘Am I getting better though?’
‘Yes, you are! However, you’ve only been to five ballet classes – ever. Be patient and trust the process…’
‘But why don’t my pirouettes look like yours?’
I’ll tell you why they don’t look like mine.
Let’s use Malcolm Gladwells famous 10,000 hours rule, in which he says anyone needs to accomplish 10,000 hours of deliberate practise to be world-class at anything. If I approximate that I’ve done 2 hours of ballet a day since I was 10 (which I definitely didn’t do whilst at university, but do many more than these days) and times it by the 365 days in a year and then again by the last 16 years… I’ve clocked up 11,680 hours. And that’s a conservative guess.
If you’ve done five hours worth of ballet classes and your pirouettes DO look like mine, then I’ll hand you the keys to my studio!
Now that’s out of the way, you can stop comparing yourself with me and we can focus on you…
You need to be patient, consistent and trust the process.
All you need to do is look around the room in any of our adult ballet classes and see people quietly working on their individual goals. I can’t stress enough the importance of ‘individual’. Some attend once a week, others three, while some people come to every class for two weeks and then I don’t see them again for six months – your goals have to align with your actions.
This is why I love ballet – it’s an incredibly challenging process that gives back tiny moments of complete freedom based on the effort you put in. Similar to life really…
However, you will never be 100% happy with your plié or pirouettes. There is always something to improve. When you think you’ve finally got it, your ability to balance mysteriously disappears, your teacher throws something new at you and you feel like you’re back to square one*.
*For the record, you’re not back at square one. Simply, your expectations of yourself and your abilities have shifted. Because you’ve improved! Ah, see what I did there… YOU’VE IMPROVED!
This is the same reason why some people hate ballet.
Especially in this era of smart phones and other technology that distracts and entertains us, it’s more common for someone to start ballet and give up than start ballet and push through that increasingly uncomfortable ability to focus. There’s no iPhone app or ‘hack’ that will make you a better ballet dancer.
There’s plenty of people who love ballet, start ballet and then quit because they don’t see instant results. Don’t worry though, this totally isn’t your fault! We’re conditioned for compulsion and instant gratification. When we’re bored or want to distract ourselves, all we need to do is refresh our Instagram feed.
Especially in this technological age of life hacks, the commitment to practice ballet has never been more courageous or difficult.
But in return, this means the reward and benefits are tenfold.
As a beginner to ballet, you aren’t just signing up for a fitness class. In fact you’ll benefit very little physically from one ballet class. This is because you’ll be too busy concentrating on what you’re doing rather than how you’re doing it for the entire lesson – and the toned legs, awesome calf muscles and freedom of movement come from the ‘how’.
With calm breath and an open heart, you’ll be surprised how much easier class becomes.
However don’t forget that being uncomfortable is a good thing. From discomfort comes growth! So next time you’re in class and are finding something a little challenging, I want you to do something for me…
Take a big breath, smile and shift the focus internally. Give your body a break for a second. Have a mindful moment and remind yourself how courageous you’re being embarking on this journey whilst gifting yourself with all the benefits ballet can bring to your daily life*.
Trust the process. Be patient with yourself.
I started ballet when I was three, so I’ll never know what it feels like to be a ‘beginner’. THIS is why I think you’re all absolutely incredible.
Peace & Pliés,
PS. *The benefits of ballet will totally be my next blog post…