Category Archives: Dance & Fitness

Learn about dance and fitness classes at Ballet Austin through the Butler Center for Dance and Fitness

Getting to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructors: Jae Hoon Lim

By Jessica Pino, Senior Manager of Audience Engagement & Marketing

An important “tool” of Pilates is the instructor. But choosing a Pilates instructor to train with can feel a little like speed dating—not only do you want a certified and trained professional, you want someone you get along with! We’re making things easy for you with our “Get to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructor” blog series, and asked each of our certified Pilates Instructors a few questions.

Meet our newest certified Pilates instructor Jae Hoon!

jae-hoon-lim

  1. What do you do on your free time?
    Drive (be stuck in traffic) to the next job… Just Kidding. When I’m not working I like to take social dance classes at Go Dance or go hiking.
  2. What’s your favorite cocktail?
    Old Fashioned or Manhattan at Small Victory.
  3. What are you currently reading?
    Architecture of Human Living Fascia, Childhood Disrupted, NatGeo magazine.
  4. Do you have any pets?
    I have a 3-year-old cat, named Toupée. She is a white cat with a black mark on her head, thus the name, “Toupée”. :) She teaches me to love unconditionally and to cohabit with another being (requires some patience).
  5. What’s your guilty pleasure?
    Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages, Guinness, Real Time with Bill Maher, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

BONUS Question: What’s one interesting fact about yourself?
Just one!? I’ll give you a few.
I am REALLY good at darts. Wanna challenge me? I’ll play you for a pint of Guinness anytime.
I love riding motorcycles. (Sadly, I had to sell my Yamaha when I moved here. :( So, now I am saving $$ to buy Moto Guzzi V7 Special)
I am studying to be trilingual. Parlez-vous français? I’ll teach you Korean if you’ll be my French tutor.

Getting to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructors: Brittany Harpole

By Jessica Pino, Senior Manager of Audience Engagement & Marketing

An important “tool” of Pilates is the instructor. But choosing a Pilates instructor to train with can feel a little like speed dating—not only do you want a certified and trained professional, you want someone you get along with! We’re making things easy for you with our “Get to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructor” blog series, and asked each of our certified Pilates Instructors a few questions.

Meet Brittany Harpole! She was introduced to Pilates though her 15 years of classical ballet training. Here’s a little more about her!

brittany-harpole

          1. What do you do on your free time?
            Between working at Ballet Austin, two kids, and owning my own business I don’t get a lot of free time. But my husband and I love to take the kids and animals camping if we get a free weekend.
          2. What are you currently reading?
            Idea fit magazine.
          3. Do you have any pets?
            I have two dogs and 4 chickens and 2 kids if you count those as animals. My dogs are name Tilly and TJ and they love to hunt and run around our property. My 4 chickens are named Snow White, Ariel, Pocahontas and Jasmine. They lay lots of eggs and love attention.
          4. If you had to choose just one, what “health tip” would you want everyone to know?Sustainability is key. Making a lifestyle change that is sustainable is healthier and more beneficial than doing a crash diet or extreme exercise.
          5. What’s your guilty pleasure?
            Homemade Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

BONUS Question: What’s one interesting fact about you that you’d like to share?
I’m not afraid to get dirty or try something new. I might at the Ballet one weekend and the dirt bike track the next.

Getting to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructors: Tyler Guthrie

By Jessica Pino, Senior Manager of Audience Engagement & Marketing

An important “tool” of Pilates is the instructor. But choosing a Pilates instructor to train with can feel a little like speed dating—not only do you want a certified and trained professional, you want someone you get along with! We’re making things easy for you with our “Get to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructor” blog series, and asked each of our certified Pilates Instructors a few questions.

Meet Tyler Guthrie! She’s not just one of Ballet Austin’s certified Pilates instructor, she also teaches a few drop-in fitness classes through our Butler Center for Dance & Fitness.

tyler-guthrie

          1. Who’s your favorite Austin musician?
            Tameca Jones
          2. What’s your favorite restaurant?
            Justine’s
          3. Do you have any pets?
            2 rescue cats (Ballie and bama) and one dog Jojo—they are my life
          4. How long have you been in Austin?
            I moved here from California when I was 12 and left to go back to Cali when I was 18. I moved to Dallas, came back, studied nutrition and preventative medicine in New York and came back. Basically I’ve been in and out of town since I was 12.
          5. What do you do on your free time?
            I don’t really have much free time, but when I do, I paddle board, run, or play music. I’m a singer/songwriter.

Be sure to also check out her Instagram account for great health tips and check out the Ballet Austin Pilates group reformer schedule for her next open time slot.

Getting to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructors: Elise Pekarek

By Jessica Pino, Senior Manager of Audience Engagement & Marketing

An important “tool” of Pilates is the instructor. But choosing a Pilates instructor to train with can feel a little like speed dating—not only do you want a certified and trained professional, you want someone you get along with! We’re making things easy for you with our “Get to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructor” blog series, and asked each of our certified Pilates Instructors a few questions.

Meet Elise Pekarek who is not only a Ballet Austin certified Pilates Instructor but is also one of our talented Company Dancers!

elise-pekarek

        1. Who’s your favorite Austin musician?
          I always enjoy going to see my friend and fellow company dancer Jordan Moser perform with his band.
        2. What’s your favorite restaurant?
          Uchi!
        3. What are you currently reading?
          I recently finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I’m looking for something new!
        4. Do you have any pets?
          Two Boston Terriers, Nitro and Lady.

          Nitro

          Nitro

          Lady

          Lady

        5. What do you do on your free time?
          In my free time, I try to do Pilates for myself. I also enjoy going to movies and trying new restaurants.

BONUS Question: What’s your guilty pleasure?
I LOVE Sandy’s cheeseburgers and fries, cheesecake, beer, and Home Slice pizza.

 

Getting to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructors: Felicia McBride

By Jessica Pino, Senior Manager of Audience Engagement & Marketing

An important “tool” of Pilates is the instructor. But choosing a Pilates instructor to train with can feel a little like speed dating—not only do you want a certified and trained professional, you want someone you get along with! So we’re going to make things easy for you with our “Get to Know Your Ballet Austin Pilates Instructor” blog series, and ask each of our certified Pilates Instructors a few questions. First up: Felicia McBride!

Certified Pilates Instructor Felicia McBride

Certified Pilates Instructor Felicia McBride

  1. Who’s your favorite Austin musician?
    My favorite Austin musician would have to be a drummer by the name of Brandon Guerra. He plays at The Elephant Room, The Brass House, The Gatsby, and Lambert’s. Although, you could say I’m biased since I’m engaged to him 
  2. What’s your favorite restaurant?
    I’d have to say my favorite restaurant right now is Ramen Tatsuya. I love having that big bowl of noodles right in front of me to devour!
  3. What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
    I love riding my bike on Townlake and going to Barton Springs in the summer.
  4. What do you do on your free time?
    In my free time I am either dancing, cooking, or working on a 1000 piece puzzle.

  5. What’s one interesting fact about you?
    One interesting thing about me is that I have one extra rib on the left side of my neck!

felicia

resolutions

Resolutions: Commitment vs. Interest

It’s the time of year when optimism strikes anew and we think to ourselves, “My New Year’s resolutions will totally work out this time!” Our intentions are good, right? We want to make meaningful changes in our life and January 1st seems to make the most sense as the place to start with all the promises and possibilities a new year brings. Besides, everyone else is doing it.

So we get inspired, energized, and ready to drop the bad habits and build some good ones. There are about 50+ apps out there to help you achieve any resolution you come up with. But the bigger question is whether you are committed or just interested?

People committed to fitness during Get Fit, our annual day of free classes.

People committed to fitness during Ballet Austin’s Get Fit event: our annual day of free classes.

Interest vs. Commitment

It’s easy to be interested in a lot of things. But how do we move beyond interest? To begin with, make sure you understand the difference between interest and commitment.

  • Interest reads an article or blog post; commitment applies that post to each day.
  • Interest works on a new hobby, improving yourself, or eating healthier when it is convenient, easy, or fun; commitment is a priority, is being proactive and looking for ways to make it work!
  • Interest procrastinates; commitment focuses on what’s important today and does it.
  • Interest makes excuses; commitment constantly looks for new ways and solutions, and won’t take “no” for an answer.

Now ask yourself: Are you committed? Or just interested?

Life change and growth requires more than mere interest. It requires a decision, determination, and ongoing dedication. It is your promise to yourself that you will not give up on you! So are you ready to go all out? Are you ready to fully commit yourself to achieving what you have resolved for 2016?

Check your Mindset

PILATES-DETAIL-2

Get on the wagon… or Pilates reformer. Don’t let new activities intimidate you!

Success, in any aspect of life, starts with your mindset. You must make the decision at your core to hold nothing back. Take a good look at your life and decide that nothing is going to stand in your way of achieving something new or changing a habit in your life. If you’re going to commit yourself to your resolution, it’s got to be something that you truly value; not what others think you should do. Your state of mind at the beginning of this journey is key.

Refine and Define Your Goals

I’’s hard to commit yourself to something if your finish line is a nebulous point in the distance. Plenty of resolutions fail because it can be overwhelming to think about doing something for the rest of your life, even the rest of a year.

Instead of “be healthy in 2016”, be specific about what your goals are and what you want the ultimate outcome to be. Determine what you want, how to get there, and how long you plan on dedicating to reach your destination. Consider some of the unhealthy habits you have now, and think about which of those you may want to change. Or is there something you would like to learn, or accomplish? Be specific.

Daily Resolve

Be positive in your goals.

Be positive and commit to your goals daily.

Regrettably, having a clearly defined end-goal isn’t enough to keep you going. Initial enthusiasm slowly begins to fade as time presses on. In fact, only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions.

Once you know how you want to change/learn/grow, begin to put steps together to get there. Daily resolve. Daily commit. At the beginning of each week, write down your top goals for the next 7 days. At the beginning of each day remind yourself what has to happen on that day, and before you go to bed each night, check to see you’ve completed that task. Your mind needs daily reminders of your goals.

The key to staying motivated is finding both enjoyment and achievement along the way. When it’s fun,  we feel we have conquered something; when there is a reward, we gain the edge.

Gather Supporters

Having fun is key! Plenty of like-minded people during Get Fit 2016 event.

Having fun is key! Plenty of like-minded people during Get Fit 2016 event.

Tell others what you are doing. Tell them to ask you about it and encourage you! Surround yourself with like-minded people; people who support what you are striving for and people who are also heading in the same direction. You will meet them at the running trail, the gym, and in a dance class.

And don’t forget to record your progress with photos, journaling, social media, or anything else that gives you motivation and a sense of progress. Celebrate the milestones.

Go easy on yourself

Expect to revert to your old habits from time to time, but don’t allow that to be a deterrent to reaching your end-goal. There are occasional detours and hazards of the road. Treat these as temporary setbacks, rather than failures or a reason to give up completely. So eat that cookie or enjoy a lazy afternoon, and then get back on track! After all, your committed, not just interested.

8 Tips

8 Tips For A Healthier Holiday

By Vicki Parsons, Butler Center for Dance & Fitness Director

During this busy season of crazy schedules—holiday shopping, baking, decorating, family gatherings and celebratory meals—I have a tough time sticking to my healthy eating habits. In fact, eating healthy during the holidays sometimes seems like an impossible challenge. All around me I’m faced with delicious sweets, gift baskets filled with yummy cheeses and meats, rich egg nog drinks, and platters overflowing with fattening foods. Can you blame me when faced with these temptations? Chances are you can’t blame me. In fact, you probably join me!

Most of us utter some form of “I’ll start eating healthy again in the New Year,” and then we proceed to stuff ourselves from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day. We’re uncomfortably full. Most of us don’t pile our plate like that on a regular day, but during the holidays it would be rude not to try every dish, so pass the pie please!

Blame The Brain?

Research has shown that our brains can easily override our bodies’ signals to stop eating, even when we know the consequences will be unpleasant. While one incredibly heavy meal won’t make us fat, it can make us terribly uncomfortable. It’s harder to breath, we’re drowsy, bloated and gassy, irritable, and even sick. Blame the brain? Maybe. When we’re stuffed with comforting food our brain triggers a warm feeling inside. It’s actually comes from a primal instinct to eat a lot as often as we can, preparing us for hard times when food might not be as easily available: like the squirrels storing up for the winter. The real bummer is that our brain rewards us for it by releasing pleasure chemicals. A recent study suggested that high-fat, high-calorie foods affect the brain in much the same way as cocaine and heroin!

So now that we know all of this, how can we fight against our body and brain taking over our eating habits during this holiday season? First off, simply knowing this will help. Be aware of not only the challenge of more parties and extra food, but also how the brain and body respond to it all.

Tips For A Healthier Holiday

Besides paying attention the brain body responses, follow some of these tips:

Don't skip breakfast on Thanksgiving morning!

Don’t skip breakfast on Thanksgiving morning!

  1. You don’t have to quit “cold turkey” all the savory holiday foods. Remind yourself that you don’t have to overindulge everyday. Decide to eat as healthy as possible on most days, and then give yourself the “go-ahead” to enjoy a few of your favorite foods throughout the month… guilt-free!
  2. Now is probably not a good time to go on a diet. Instead of trying to shed extra pounds during the holiday season, focus on maintaining your current weight.
  3. Stop making food your number one thought. There are some yummy foods we wait all year to consume, but instead of focusing on what’s going to be part of the spread, think about the company you keep, the conversations, the traditions, and the good times. Don’t make it only about the food, make it about the people.
  4. Grill, roast, and bake as often as you can. Go light on the creams and gravies.
  5. Don’t put all the food on the table. When we have to get up for a serving we traditionally eat less.
  6. Eat before you eat! Seriously! Maybe not right before, but the tendency on holidays is to starve in preparation for the big feast. Don’t deprive yourself before your Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, eat a healthy breakfast and lunch (unless your feast is at noon), enjoy your usual in-between snacks throughout the day, and come to the table like you would on any other day. If you show up at dinner starving, you’ll be more likely to overeat and your body will have a harder time digesting the heavy meal.
  7. Take time to savor your food on your days to indulge. Pace yourself, chew slowly, and enjoy each bite. Make each bite smaller and put your fork down once in a while to chew and talk with the other people at the table. It actually takes time for your body to realize it’s full, so the slower you eat, the more likely you will be to stop before you are over full.
  8. Continue to stay active during the holiday season. Not only does physical activity relieve the added stress of the holidays, it will give you the motivation to eat healthy when it’s not party time. Even if you’re significantly busier this month, don’t skip your workouts. Beyond burning calories, a workout can boost your mood for up to 12 hours; a much-needed perk during this hectic season. Get creative to keep moving your body. Walk the Trail of Lights, walk through a decorated neighborhood, bundle up for a fun game of Frizbee, or take the dog for a walk!

 

 

Stay Active

Enjoy the months ahead, incorporate healthy recipes into your holiday meals when you can, watch portion sizes, don’t restrict yourself from enjoying some of your favorite holiday foods, and stay as active as you can. Most importantly, don’t forget that the holidays are for celebrating with family and friends.

And if you totally blow it? Join us January 10 for our Annual GetFit! Day.

Happy Holiday’s From Ballet Austin!

Iconic Thriller Re-awakens “The Dancing” Dead

By Guest Blogger, Laura Bond Williams, Butler Center for Dance & Fitness member

In 2008, and Ballet Austin’s Butler Center for Dance & Fitness had re-awakened me to the possibilities of becoming a dancer—at age 38. That fall I took a thrilling step forward as a dancer and performer when I joined 800+ other local dancers to participate in “Thrill the World” at the Long Center, joining tens of thousands of movers worldwide to set a Guinness World Record for simultaneously dancing Thriller. That experience—and several more over the last seven years—are why I appreciate and celebrate Thriller as a way for people to connect with their bodies, channel their creativity and claim dance for themselves.

thrill-the-world-tibbygirl

Image from 2008’s Thrill the World at the Long Center. Photo Credit tibbygirl via Flickr CC.

That day, lying flat and “playing dead” on the warm concrete plaza of our city’s performing arts center, we waited for the opening notes and footsteps that mark the beginning of Michael Jackson’s legendary song. Together—women and men of all ages and races—we slowly rose to life, our bodies play-fighting against gravity. Acting our roles as stumbling, bumbling living dead, rising from our graves and ready to…dance. Thriller’s famous fanfare brings us to our feet, and we stare straight ahead, enlivened by the music. The beat drops, and we walk, slowly. Right. Pause. Left. Pause. Right. Pause. Left. Pause.

One of my favorite Broadway dance teachers often quips “if you can walk, you can dance.” (Please note: walking is not even a prerequisite for dancing, as beautiful dance troupes such as Austin’s Body Shift dancers demonstrate.) As we stumbled right-left-right-left across the Long Center plaza, I realized this truth: when we are moved by music, we are dancing.

If you were alive and young in 1984, then Thriller connects your present body to your past. Perhaps you watched Friday night music videos while sitting next to your VCR, waiting for the Thriller video to air so you could tape it and watch it over and over. Thirty-one years later, Thriller still stirs the same reactions.

But you don’t have to be middle-aged to be excited by Thriller. This year, I taught Thriller to a group of young dancers, and we performed it at as a flash mob at an Alamo Drafthouse movie theatre. I gave them only two pieces of advice on costumes: Find some mud and some blood, and if your costume is too clean or too cute, it’s not a zombie.

People of all ages dressing as zombies for Thriller. Photo Credit

People of all ages at Ballet Austin dressed as zombies for Thriller. Photo Credit Laura Bond Williams

These 9–13-year-olds—and many of their parents—channeled ghastly princess and cheerleader zombies and night-of-the-living-dead zombies in white t-shirts, flannel and jeans, drizzled in dirt, leaves, mud and fake blood.

For adults, learning and performing Thriller is a way for us to claim our identity as dancers. For most of us “flash mobbers,” our identity as dancer may fall behind our roles as spouses, parents, and/or professionals. But the identity is no less dear. Last month I met a successful nonprofit executive whose career is a model and inspiration for many. Our conversation spanned many personal and professional subjects, and when we touched on the topic of dance, we went to a whole new shared space and she shared with me that she was starting Ballet Austin’s Thriller workshop. Her enthusiasm and excitement for tackling this iconic dance was palpable.

Photo Credit Laura Bond Williams

Photo Credit Laura Bond Williams

In less than six minutes—from a creaky door to an evil cackle—Thriller brings us back to life, living in our bodies, channeling our creativity and declaring our love of dance. As Vincent Price reminds us in rap: “For whosoever shall be found without the soul for getting down, may stand and face the hounds of hell and rot inside a corpse’s shell.”

Ballet Austin offers Thriller workshops every year! And with Halloween around the corner… Go ahead dancers. Thrill the world.

Join Ballet Austin In Celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month

By Christi Cuellar Lotz, Director of Development

Many in Austin may not realize the depth of Ballet Austin’s offerings. For example, The Pilates Pink Ribbon Program is something we take a lot of pride in. This post-operative exercise program is offered for women recovering from breast cancer surgery. Ballet Austin currently covers the entire cost of the program with the help of outside donations.

Post-Rehabilitative Breast Cancer Exercise Specialist Vlada Sheber working with a survivor.

Post-Rehabilitative Breast Cancer Exercise Specialist Vlada Sheber working with a survivor.

The program was started 6 years ago by certified Pilates instructor, Vlada Sheber for women such as Emily featured in the video below. Emily attends the workshop and says it’s been an integral part of her recovery. That it’s helped her regain her strength, energy and quality of life. Having practiced yoga for over 10 years, she knows what a difference movement makes in her general health and included it in her daily routine. Now, she calls it her “medicine.”

Other participants talk of Vlada’s compassion and sense of humor, in addition to her expertise, and tell about the sense of community the Pilates Pink Ribbon Program brings to them. Currently, we are able to offer this program during the lunchtime hours on Tuesday. But we can do more. More women can include this program as part of their recovery journey if evening classes were available.

Vlada Sheber

Post-Rehabilitative Breast Cancer Exercise Specialist Vlada Sheber during a Pilates Pink Ribbon Program class.

This is where you come in! As we move into the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, show your support for these special women and join us for Pink Tuesdays every Tuesday in October. Wear pink to Ballet Austin—whether you’re taking a class or dropping off a child—take a selfie and post to social media to let everyone that you support Breast Cancer Awareness month! Don’t forget to tag #PinkTuesdayATX and #BalletAustin. And, if you’re inclined, make a gift of support to help us expand our reach of the Pilates Pink Ribbon Program. Know that every single dollar makes a difference.

How I Mastered Pilates After Failed Attempts

By Vlada Sheber, Pilates Program Director

pilates-reformer-1400x800

In 2000 I took my first Pilates reformer class. As a professional dancer, and member of Ballet Austin’s professional company at the time, I thought I was in such great shape and could easily do this apparatus workout. Was I ever wrong! I did everything incorrectly. I could not do Pilates. I could not get it right!

But my Ukrainian never-give-up blood kept me coming back. I wanted to get it right. What I discovered was that with proper instruction, I could do Pilates. What I learned through this experience is that one of the most important things about Pilates is learning to do it correctly.

15 years later I can truly say it was the best investment I made in myself, my dancing, and in my life. Not only did I notice major changes in my body, but I also just felt better all over.

Ballet Austin In

Master Instructor Private Pilates sessions are available for clients.

In 2002, after many hours of grueling training, I received my diploma as a Certified Core Connections® Pilates Instructor from the Core Connections® Comprehensive Teacher Training Program at the Pilates Center of Austin. In 2007, when the Ballet Austin Pilates Center was designed and opened, I was appointed as Pilates Program Director. Since then we have grown from just one certified Pilates instructor to 8. We also recently had a Grand Re-opening of our newly renovated space—now offer 12 reformers in 2 studios totaling 1500 square feet.

I think Pilates is for everyone. Whatever your age and physical condition, the Pilates practice will improve your quality of life. The greatest challenge is that, despite the fact that Pilates has been around for about 100 years, people still don’t know what it is and where it came from. They don’t know it can be for them.

So whenever I have a chance, I share with everyone this six-minute video by InfobytesTV that provides a complete history of Pilates. I love it! It’s a fun and informative animated history of Joseph Pilates and the beginning of the Pilates Method.