As we wrapped up today's rehearsal for an upcoming dance performance, I felt a familiar sense of appreciation wash over me. At 48-years-old, I once again felt incredibly grateful for my adult ballet class. Twice a week, a dedicated group of dancer mommies meets in a spacious studio to "do ballet." Before and after class, we ballet moms share tips about pointy shoes and pink tights. We also share ideas about life's heavier stuff, including parenting victories, foibles and failures.


My mom nudged me into my first ballet class at the age of five, and I was instantly hooked. Ballet was my calling until my early twenties, at which point life got particularly hectic, and I quit. Fifteen years and seven kids later, I decided to step back up to the ballet barre. And you know what? It was love at first sight...again. There are a lot of things I can't do that my younger ballet-self could, but I also have the maturity now to shrug and say, "who cares?"

Consider the big benefits that adult ballet has to offer.

1. Maintaining flexibility. Classical ballet is all about lengthening your muscles and increasing joint range of motion. I count on ballet training to help me maintain mobility down the road. I don't relish losing the ability to bend over to tie my shoes.

2. Building muscular strength. Ballet differs from other gym workouts. Expect to build muscle -- especially in your core and lower body -- but forget about adding bulk. Strong, long and lean work for me.

3. Improving proprioception. Exercises that involve balancing, turning and jumping increase awareness of where your body is in space. I'm hoping the work I do in class now will protect me from balance-related issues as I age.

4. Enhancing poise and coordination. I feel lighter and taller when I walk out of class!

5. Boosting brain function. In class, I push myself to remember complex movement patterns that involve my head, shoulders, knees, toes and everything in between. In ballet, every body part takes part, including the mind!

6. Forging relationships. With the exception of a few yet-unmarrieds, we're all busy moms. We're all coming from different places, and our lives are busy, busy. During class, our troubles, worries and frustrations go into hiding. After class, we share tips, offer advice and express support.

7. Increasing energy. A good class leaves me feeling upbeat, energized and better able to deal with the tough stuff!