Things I learned by doing ballet as an adult



I mentioned in the previous post about fitness that it’s really vital to find the activity that you like enough to keep going back and doing repeatedly. And you might have to try a lot of stuff out to get there. Which brings me to adult ballet.

So there was this time when I used to do ballet. I don’t mean as a little kid. I mean as a fully grown woman in my forties. Actually, it was last year.

I often thought that my class should be re-named Ballet (don’t laugh) rather than simply Ballet. I would frequently turn down Thursday social engagements with an apologetic Sorry I can’t, I’ve got ballet (don’t laugh).

Why would anybody laugh? Well, if you think of a ballerina, you probably think of a tiny waif, and not at all of a chunky fortysomething like I am. Like the beautiful photo above, your typical ballerina tends to be an elegant, pink tutu-ed, be-ribboned shoes kind of person. That’s not me. Life as a perimenopausal ballerina is quite different to that. In my head I maybe looked like that but the mirror told a different story.

But I would still recommend adult ballet as an activity. It’s pretty fun once you get beyond the initial embarrassment factor of realising that what a galumph you look like.

  • No matter what your size or shape or age, you can get something out of ballet as an adult
    I found it to be more of a mental challenge than a physical one. It’s great for increasing flexibility and co-ordination. Some studies suggest that it may help stave off memory loss and might even help prevent dementia.
  • Though it is still a physical challenge
    Get ready to jump. Really jump, as high as you can. Pretend you’re reaching for the last Toblerone on the top shelf in Poundland. I’m not exactly a natural born leaper. The effect was more like a stray rhino who’s been on the gin. But still, I had a go.
  • You might have to encounter some uncomfortable truths about yourself
    My ballet teacher pointed out that I didn’t much like looking at myself in the mirror, and she was absolutely right. I found it quite an uncomfortable gaze to eyeball myself up close for so long. Clearly I’m not so at ease with myself physically as I thought I was so still some work to do there.

In the end I stopped my adult ballet class in favour of going to Kettlebells , which involves precisely no leaping and is therefore more up my street. But as I said, I had a go. (note to self: keep this for the gravestone: She had a go).

So if you are doing that New Year thing of trying things you always wanted to try, and adult ballet is on your list, go for it. No matter what age, shape or size you are, you will have something to gain from it. Also you will be better prepared to reach future Toblerones which is a handy skill, I find.


What are your thoughts on adult ballet? Would you give it a go? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you

Image credit: liakapelke
  • Alana

    I never did ballet as a child but would love to have a go now, though I’m not a natural leaper either!
    Alana x

  • Louise O’Brien

    Absolutely love this because it’s so true, the stigma that comes with ballet, is unreal. If you love to dance and have the moves then you should be dancing until someone says your not allowed anymore X

    • True. And even then you should probably keep going.

  • Sabra of Great Green Heron

    I started ballet in my late 30s. My butt and legs never looked better when I took ballet. Grand plies in revele were the best (and worst with the soreness). I got to perform a few times, too. But the double stress fractures in my leg were it for me…


    • Sabra of Great Green Heron

      PS Barre class is a big (and growing) thing here in the U.S. now. Ballet without the leaps?

  • I have done adult ballet in the past, but there isn’t a class near me now. I would love to though and think it’s wonderful. Well done for giving it a go xx

    • Our class was put on by a teacher who was already doing children’s ballet classes, so if there is a dance school near you then it might be worth asking if they will put an adult class on. It’s very en vogue now, go for it Susan!

      • True. I will ask around, thank you xx