Gentlemen, this one’s for you. Yes, these ballet factoids will surprise you.
There’s a stigma surrounding ballet and ballet workouts that states that they are only for girls. Any male ballet dancer has had to deal with their masculinity being attacked from more ignorant segments of the population.
Nevermind the fact that ballet dancers have the most amazing cores out there. Nevermind the fact that male ballet dancers, because of the lifts they perform, have amazingly defined lean upper-body muscle mass. Here’s exactly why you shouldn’t feel insecure about doing a ballet workout.
It’s more common among football players than you realize
Did you know the Dallas Cowboys have installed ballet barres at their training facility? Let’s just put this out there right away: football players, perhaps the most masculine and tough looking athletes on the planet, are discovering that ballet is benefiting them on the football field in ways they never thought possible.
It all started with Steelers hall of fame wide receiver Lynn Swann. The four-time Super Bowl champion and all-time Steeler leading receiver was famous for performing acrobatic catches while being double and sometimes triple teamed.
Swann revealed that the secret training routine that allowed him to pull off those catches was ballet. In regards to ballet training, Swann said:
“People don’t understand the physicality of dance. Rhythm, timing, body control, coordination. The finish of one move is also the preparation for the next move. I started developing an ability to feel very comfortable in the air. Some of the catches I made that you see in the highlights, I’m up in the air catching a pass. Body control comes into play, the dance ability comes into play. and boom, it’s all there.
Heisman Trophy winner, football legend, and former MMA fighter Herschel Walker was also a ballet student. He had this to say:
“I started ballet in my early 20s. I studied for about 10 years. Ballet is probably one of the hardest things I’ve done, almost like MMA. People don’t give it a lot of credit and think it’s easy but it’s very difficult. For an athlete, you use muscles you really don’t use and ballet is something I really respect.
You may be thinking to yourself, “Yeah but those guys are receivers and running backs. You won’t see the big guys going out and doing ballet training.” Not so fast!
Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon is 6’4”, 320 pounds, and has been taking ballet classes since he was a senior in college. “It’s harder than anything else I do,” McLendon said.
Bodybuilders use it to perfect posing
Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t always a movie star. In fact, Schwarzenegger first gained fame as a 7-time Mr. Olympia bodybuilding champion. If you know anything about bodybuilding, you’ll know that the title of Mr. Olympia is bodybuilding’s most prestigious title. Winning it means that Schwarzenegger wasn’t just the most muscular, it means that he was the most muscularly proportionate and graceful poser in all of bodybuilding for nearly a decade!
How did Arnold Schwarzenegger become perhaps the greatest bodybuilder of all time? One of the contributing factors was his study of ballet. Ballet is all about grace and confidence, body posture, and creating visual symmetry with the body. These principles are what let Schwarzenegger become such a good poser. Without good posing, no bodybuilder can be successful.
Schwarzenegger started a tradition of using ballet for posing that has been copied by thousands of bodybuilders after him. In fact, ballet training is now considered essential for bodybuilding training. If it’s good enough for Arnold Schwarzenegger, it should be good enough for you.
Boxers gain an edge with it
Many people don’t know that Evander Holyfield is the only 4-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Even fewer people don’t realize that Holyfield was a world champion in two different weight classes. Opponents of Evander Holyfield knew better than to try and stand toe to toe with him because his boxing technique was impeccable.
Evander Holyfield is perhaps the most athletic heavyweight champion to ever step into the ring. Part of the reason why he was such a good athlete is because he employed a full-time ballet instructor as part of his training routine.
Ballet helps strengthen the ankles and calves like no other form of exercise can. The two things that boxers need in order to have good footwork are strong ankles and calves. Holyfield credited ballet as the reason why he had great footwork. He also used ballet to increase his flexibility in the ring. During many of his fights, Holyfield was able to use his flexibility to dodge punches, which is one of the reasons why he was never knocked out during his professional career.
More Celebrities do it than you think
All of us are familiar with the Jordan logo. You know, the silhouette of Michael Jordan jumping through the air with a basketball about to dunk. Did you know though, that in order to capture that image, Jordan performed a ballet move?
“I just stood on the floor, jumped up and spread my legs and they took the picture. I wasn’t even running. Everyone thought I did that by running and taking off. Actually, it was a ballet move where I jumped up and spread my legs. And I was holding the ball in my left hand” Jordan stated.
Did you know that movie superstar and female heartthrob Ryan Gosling has been practicing ballet for most of his life? So did Patrick Swayze, James Dean, and numerous other icons of masculinity.
Jean Claude Van Damme…need we say more?
Jean Claude Van Damme, before he was an action movie star, was a world class kickboxing and karate expert. His exploits in both those sports garnered the attention of movie producers and Van Damme soon found himself as one of the hottest names in Hollywood.
A few of his trademark moves included performing the splits and high spin kicks. How was he able to perform these moves that made him a world famous action star? It’s because, ever since he was 16 years old, Van Damme studied ballet. He described his respect for ballet when he said “Ballet is an art, but it’s also one of the most difficult sports. If you can survive a ballet workout, you can survive a workout in any other sport”.
The point of all this is to show you that you don’t lose your masculinity by doing ballet. So, the next time someone criticizes you for having a desire to take a ballet or barre class, just take out your phone, pull up this blog post, and start reading aloud. I guarantee you’ll have your friends wanting to take a class with you.