Tag Archives: Fitness

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.

Why Do YOU Dance?

By Vicki Parsons, Butler Center for Dance & Fitness Director

I knew at a very young age that I loved to move my body. Whether it was playing tag with the neighborhood kiddos, hiking, swimming, or one of many sports, I loved it! And while dance lessons were not on the list, I can tell you that when the music played, I could not be still.

I fondly remember the dance craze of the 60’s: The Twist, the Mashed Potato, the Loco-motion. And if you grew up in the 70’s you probably grooved to the Funky Chicken and YMCA. Every generation has their dance – dance has always been, and will always be.

America’s Dance Craze

America’s fascination with dance exploded with the popularity of So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars. Last summer, ballerina Misty Copeland’s breathtaking Under Armour ad brought ballet into our living rooms.

Dance can be seen on billboards, in TV commercials, and sells everything from Mountain Dew to cell phone service. The rising interest in dance as an alternative form of exercise has positively impacted the fitness industry.

Why Do YOU Dance?


People love to dance. But why? I decided to play roving reporter at Ballet Austin’s Butler Dance Education Center this past week and investigate. I didn’t have to rove far since  we bring dance to adults of all ages and ability levels 7 days a week. I walked from studio to studio asking people, “Why do you dance?” I asked professional company dancers, dance instructors, people sitting in the lobby, children in our kid’s camp… I even asked the barista at Starbucks and took to Twitter to hear what people had to say! 

“Dance is one of the things that brings me the most joy!”

 Tara Alperin, Butler Center Instructor

“Dance has always moved me.”  – Company dancer Orlando Canova

A photo posted by Ballet Austin (@balletaustin) on


“I dance to chase the crazies away.”

– John, Starbucks Barista

“I dance to work out. It’s a fun and positive way to exercise. I have lost 18 lbs. dancing!”

– Laura, Butler Center Member

“Nadanam, manidhanaaga pirandha ovvoruvanum alli alli paruga vendiya amurdhamada adhu!”

Prakash Mohandas, Butler Center Bollywood Instructor

“I dance because it’s like physical journaling; a way to speak when I don’t have the words. Sometimes it’s happy, sometimes it’s sad, but I always get that amazing feeling of release once I’ve done it.”

– Boo Ruis, Butler Center Instructor

“Yo bailo, porque el baile es vida, es una expresión de creatividad, es arte en movimiento, es mi libertad”

– Janet Alvarado, Butler Center Customer Relations

“We celebrate Dance, revel in the universality of this art form. Dance crosses all political, cultural and ethnic barriers and brings people together with a common language – Dance.

World Organization for the Performing Arts

“I dance because I don’t really have a choice…when I hear good music, my body just reacts to it with movement. It’s the best feeling.”

– Hannah Brightwell, Butler Center Instructor 

Now tell us why you dance at @BalletAustinCTR !


10 Things You May Not Know About Pilates

By Vicki Parsons, Butler Center for Dance & Fitness Director

I am a fan of anything that helps a person live an active and healthy lifestyle. But Pilates is especially beneficial. The problem is that there are still plenty of myths and misconceptions floating around about Pilates that tend to get in the way of giving it a try. While I can’t dispel all of those myths – and am a firm believer that you just have to give it a try to be convinced – here are a few things that you might not have known.

1. Pilates is not just a fad of the rich and famous.

Pilates has been around for almost a century. Yes. Longer than sliced bread! While plenty of celebrities, dancers, and fitness gurus practice Pilates, it is now more popular than ever as one of the best foundational exercises for anyone.


2. Over 10 million Americans practice Pilates.

That’s a huge number and it’s still growing. As the benefits of Pilates become known, more and more Americans are trying it for themselves.

3. Pilates was designed by Joseph Pilates.Joseph-Pilates

Joseph Pilates was a German-born self-defense instructor at Scotland Yard in England. During World War I, he was detained as an “enemy alien” with other German nationals. It was during his time in war camps that Pilates refined his ideas by rigging springs to hospital beds, enabling bedridden patients to exercise against resistance and rehabilitate.

4. Pilates is done on a reformer but can be adapted for mat work.

Joseph Pilates loved to tinker with equipment and machinery, which led to the design of the Pilates reformer we have today. As far as the dreaded magic circle, Joseph made the original “magic circle” from the steel bands around beer kegs.


5. Crunches are overrated.

Pilates gets to the core of the matter. It gives you a stronger core without the crunch! When the core is strengthened, the entire body changes; improved posture, balance, strength, and flexibility. Slouching is corrected, effects of sitting can be reversed, back pain is alleviated, and more. Pilates benefits both men and women of all ages and skill levels.

6. Rodeo cowboys do Pilates.

(Photo Credit Baker County Tourism via CC)

(Photo Credit Baker County Tourism via CC)

Pilates is all about the core and rodeo cowboys need a strong center of balance for riding bulls and bucking broncos! Because the Pilates method is renowned for its benefits in improving flexibility, strength, balance and body awareness, athletes from every sport find it the perfect foundation for their training.

7. One hour of Pilates burns calories all day long.

Pilates is all about resistance exercises. Resistance training is scientifically proven to create lean muscle and speed up metabolism to burn calories all day long. Cardio exercise is great; but as soon as you get off the stationary bike or treadmill, you stop burning calories. With Pilates, the second you finish your workout, you start burning calories.

8. Ballet Austin’s state-of-the-art Pilates Center is doubling in size.


Pilates reformers inside the newly renovated Ballet Austin Center.

Upon completion in August, Ballet Austin’s Pilates Center will be 1500 square feet, equipped with 12 Balanced Body reformers, as well as Balanced Body Chairs, Barrels and Towers to accommodate private and group appointments at all levels.

9. Ballet Austin’s Pilates Center has 8 Certified Instructors.

Under the direction of Pilates Program Director Vlada Sheber, we have 8 Certified Pilates Instructors. They are trained, caring, and passionate about their Pilates practice. And they will push you to your best.

Ballet Austin In

Ballet Austin Pilates Program Director Vlada Sheber working with a client.

10. It’s easy and affordable.

With new client packages and offers available year round it’s always a good time to try. Start with a private session or bring a friend to a group class.


Mommy + Baby Fit at Ballet Austin

Rarely do we bring you non-performance related news from Ballet Austin, but this one was just too good to pass up.

Brittany Harpole, one of our amazing BCS and Certified Pilates instructors – and recent new mom – is teaching a “Mommy and Baby Fit” workshop beginning this month.

ballet austin dance and fitness

The workshop offers flexible options for new moms of all fitness levels with children ages 10 – 18 months.

For a sneak peek, check out the video below.

For full details and to enroll visit balletaustin.org.

Have you Registered?

Note: This is our summer intern’s last editorial post. After hearing she was a yoga buff, we signed her up for our weekly Yoga Form and Flow course offered on Monday nights. See what she had to say about taking yoga in a ballet studio…

One of my favorite perks (among many) of interning at Ballet Austin this summer was the opportunity to enroll in their Yoga Flow and Form course. I’ve always been a huge fan of yoga but only a dedicated practitioner for just over a year. This course was perfect for me — it began at a slower pace, offering plenty of pose modifications. The instructor was wonderfully patient and made sure to pay special attention to each student in the class. Everyone practices yoga at a different level, and she was considerate of our abilities and catered the course to each of our needs. Set to candlelight and low music, it was an incredibly relaxing and soothing hour.

And that was only the first week. This six-week yoga course functions as an introductory course to yoga, steadily advancing the poses and practice each week as the attendees grow increasingly strong and confident. It was a thrill to feel my body grow stronger with each week, and by the sixth week be able to complete the class without any pose modifications.

I really enjoyed the structure of the class and how it steadily advanced my practice each week. Most yoga studios I’ve been to treat each individual class as an all-inclusive lesson, not really considering the different skill levels of the practitioners or looking to advance their practice in a lasting way. Ballet Austin’s Yoga Flow and Form transformed my yoga practice indefinitely because it took the time to allow my body to grow steadily over the six-week period. As a serious yoga practitioner, I highly recommend this course to anyone looking to get into yoga. It was wonderfully fun, relaxing, and made me feel fantastic after each class.

My summer internship at Ballet Austin has ended now, and I’ve moved from Austin to Los Angeles, and so far finding a great yoga studio has been tough!  I’ll miss Ballet Austin dearly, and I hope you Austinites take advantage of Flow and Form while you still can!

Sign up for our Yoga Form & Flow course by August 26 and receive $5 off your purchase. More details on the Ballet Austin website.

Today I Took My Test

After recently completing a certification course in Youth Fitness, today I took my test.  I love being a continuous learner, always thinking about what I can learn next. I want to learn something today that will bring me one step closer to excellence.  I hope I will always have the desire to learn new things. It’s what makes life exciting.

I look around at the many instructors who teach classes at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School, and I realize that I am surrounded by people who share my passion for learning, becoming more qualified in their field, and pursuing excellence. So I thought I’d give a shout out to a few BCS instructors who recently completed training, or are currently in the middle of it. I believe it is part of what sets the BCS apart; excellence in the classes offered, incredible instructors of the highest caliber.

Congratulations to BCS Hula instructor Pei-San Brown who just attained the high rank of Kumu Hula (Hula Master). Ballet Austin’s Pilates Program Director, Vlada Sheber never stops learning. This past year she attended training with the Pilates Pink Ribbon Program to become a Pilates Post-Rehabilitative Breast Cancer Exercise Specialist.

Pilates and Ballet Fit Instructor, Elise Pekarek recently completed training to become certified with Balanced Body Pilates.  Brittany Harpole who is a Certified Pilates Instructor, and teaches many of the BCS fitness classes, is currently enrolled in a course to be certified in Turbo Kick. Boo Ruiz is working towards a master level certification in fitness.  Several other instructors hold certifications in yoga, are certified personal trainers, and have a wealth of experience and expertise in their field.  I am proud to work alongside such an exceptional slate of instructors in the BCS. Come take a class and learn from the best!

…I passed my test by the way.

Get out of Your Rut – Mix up Your Routine

On my run this morning I started thinking that my exercise routine has become pretty…well, “routine”.  I run down the same streets, past the same houses without even thinking. Nothing changes. My brain and body both have it memorized; even my pedometer gives the same reading. I get great cardio, burn calories, feel good, but where’s the challenge? Where’s the fun? Do I need something new?

I talked to a woman last week who expressed a frustration in her current fitness regimen. She said, “I’m in an exercise rut. Can you help me?“ Another woman told me she was looking for something new and fun to re-invigorate her workout. “I want to challenge my brain and my body,” she said.

Ruts happen. And unless you’re that rare person who can do the same thing over and over, day in and day out, without losing interest or enthusiasm, staying motivated and engaged in your workout is difficult.  The solution is different for everyone, but maybe it’s time to try something new. Take the BCS 4-week Course Challenge! The Butler Community School has 12 different Dance & Fitness courses beginning this week that will get you moving while learning something new and having fun. Mix up your routine. Try something different. Keep it fresh!

From Tap dance for beginners, to Hula, Yoga, Pilates-based courses, and Boot Camps; early morning, lunch time, and evening. Each course offers motivation, accountability, and camaraderie; three ingredients that will help infuse your workout.

There’s also the group aspect. One of the great things about a group is that if you show up half asleep at an early morning boot camp, or exhausted at the end of a long work day, once you join the group, you become re-energized. With a friendly instructor to challenge and motivate you, it can’t get any better.  Or maybe it can; the power of the group!  Nothing brings people together quite like learning together, pressing through muscle burn, or reaching a goal. Whether learning to tap or being pushed to your cardio limit, taking a BCS course will provide opportunity to develop a common bond while getting into the best shape possible. Give it 4 weeks…

Need to get out of the exercise rut? The solution might be as simple as taking a BCS Course. Sign up today. Maybe you’ll see me there!

BCS: I’m Doing This for Me, Part 3

This is the last in a three-part profile series on Butler Community School attendees and their favorite classes.

As the Schools Communication Associate, I spend a lot of my day talking with people about everything we have to offer at the Butler Community School. From Broadway Jazz and Yoga to Hula and Zumba, there’s so much going on that I pretty much live and breathe BCS. At the end of the day, you may think the last thing I’d want to do is actually take a class … but that’s exactly what I do!

Talking with some of our regulars and finding out what they love about our classes at BCS made me realize that I’m just as much of a regular as they are… Most weeks you can find me taking Ballet Fit, Arms & Abs, Yoga, Zumba and Pilates Cardio.

Pilates Cardio

All of the classes I take on a regular basis lean more towards fitness than dance, but I still absolutely love them. This really surprised me because in the past, exercise was always something I dreaded doing. In fact, if I could, I would find any excuse not to do it.

I think the thing that makes the difference here is I never feel like I’m exercising. One of my favorite classes is Ballet Fit. The class mixes basic ballet technique with strengthening and toning exercises. After a plié combination at the bar, you’ll hit the floor for a series of abdominal exercises that you’ll definitely feel the next day. Every class is different so you never get bored or feel like you’re always doing the same routine.

Despite it being an incredible workout, the thing I like most is that I always feel like I am indulging my inner child. And trust me, she always gets a kick out of pretending to be a graceful swan. Elise and Emily, the instructors for Ballet Fit, are always encouraging and really strive to make sure that everyone’s having fun during the workout. Thanks to their upbeat personalities and the nature of the workout, I feel energized every time I walk out of a class. Who wouldn’t want to be a beautiful swan with killer abs?

BCS: I’m Doing This for Me, Part 2

This is part two of a three-part profile series on Butler Community School attendees and their favorite classes. Check back in next Thursday for part three!

In the lobby and hallways of Ballet Austin, waiting parents is a very familiar sight. For many of them, Ballet Austin has become like a second home because their children take class in the Academy as many as six days a week!  One of those waiting parents, Deb Haas, decided to use that time for herself, and signed up for yoga classes at the Butler Community School.  Here’s what she had to say:

“As a working mom, squeezing in time for exercise was always challenging, so the idea that I could use my time waiting for my daughter in a productive way by taking a fitness class really appealed to me.  I had back surgery several years prior to starting my yoga classes at the BCS, and had lost a lot of range of motion and flexibility.

My favorite classes are definitely the yoga classes taught by Michelle Thompson and Zakkiyah Kareem. They are both such great teachers, and have so much patience.  However my day had gone up until that point, it immediately improves when I sit down on my yoga mat.

Since I started taking yoga regularly at the BCS, all of my back pain has gone away, and my strength and stamina have really improved. Michellle and Zakiyyah are wonderful – and I really miss seeing them if I don’t make it to class, and I can tell both mentally and physically that I just don’t feel as good.

Taking yoga class with members of the Ballet Austin Company and staff is such a fun thing.  I’m certainly not in the same kind of physical shape that they are – but there is absolutely no judging or competition in the yoga classes, which makes me feel very comfortable and at home.  When I don’t make it to class, one of the regulars will often stop me in the hall and say ‘missed you last class’ – and it just adds to that good feeling that I get from participating.”

BCS: I’m Doing This for Me, Part 1

This is part one of a three-part profile series on Butler Community School attendees and their favorite classes. Check back in next Thursday for part two!

Since the opening of the Butler Community School in 2007, over 2,500 people have participated EACH year in the wide range of dance and fitness classes, courses and camps that the BCS offers. People of all ages come to the BCS for an ever-changing, wide variety of reasons – many are looking to dance and have fun, while hopefully learning something new along the way. Others often have fitness on the brain and just want to get some exercise in an encouraging group setting.

You’d think it would be simple to tell the difference between these two groups, but it’s actually much harder than you would think. Whether you walk by a Hip Hop class or a Pilates Mat class, you will always see smiling, laughing people. As the Schools Communications Associate, I wanted to find out why people were having so much fun – even while exercising! This week, I decided to ask one of our BCS regulars, Patty Koebele. Patty, who signed up for a Pilates Mat Course on the suggestion of a friend, now takes four courses AND has an unlimited BCS Class-Card. Here’s what Patty had to say about what brought her to the BCS, as well as her experience since then:

“I had just finished a round of physical therapy for severe back issues and I wanted to augment that with additional core strengthening, which Pilates provides. I was thrilled with the amount of pain relief I received from the Pilates exercises. I am very pleased with the strength, control, and flexibility I have gained. As a woman, I also prefer the longer, leaner muscles I am building, which still provide strength without the bulk.”

Ballet Fit, Butler Community School

“Currently, my favorite classes are Ballet Fit and Pilates, but I also take Yoga and Zumba. I take classes or courses most days of the week and there are several reasons I keep coming back. First, I have to say the instructors are absolutely phenomenal! Their knowledge and experience are only surpassed by the fact that they really care about the students. I have now come to consider them friends and truly appreciate everything I have learned from them. Secondly, at BCS I have met some amazing fellow students with whom I laugh and have a ton of fun! Finally, I [am never] bored. The variety is stimulating and each class has music that makes the exercise or workout fun.”

Ballet Fit, Butler Community School

“I initially came to BCS to glean relief from a back problem, but I have gained so much more. Through my experience at BCS, I not only feel better, am healthier, have added to my quality of life, have increased my life expectancy and hopefully even look better, but I am having a great time! I truly appreciate the staff, dancers, and students. There is something for everybody at BCS.”