Ballet: The Exercise ALL Models Need to do!
When I started modelling, the only exercise I did was walking to bus stops. I was, by now, in sixth form, so the weekly hour of humiliation and torture that others like to call PE was no longer obligatory.
Having recently growth spurted to a lofty 5”9.5, my already thin frame was stretching-racked down to so thin that I’d glibly opine that ‘size six just hangs off me.”
However, unknowable evil lurked in my new sixth form common room. It was the vending machine. Every day I’d celebrate morning break with some Nice n Spicey nik naks – on top of my mid-morning pre-packed (by mum) snacks of chocolate. My packed lunch (2 peanut butter sandwiches, mini swiss rolls and a Kit Kat) would be followed up by a Yorkie Bar washed down with a Lilt. I also started going to pubs with my friends and drinking Malibu and pineapple juice – the beverage for classy girls!
Strange things started happening. Mum was surely shrinking my clothes in the wash? Because I was now having to buy size eight and it felt so tight that it was leaving bright white weal’s all over my thighs and bum! I was getting a double chin!
This happens to lots of girls when they start modelling. It’s called puberty. Signed to an agency at 15/16 when you have a tiny frame, your body then starts turning all fertile and wanting to sprout lumps and bumps in previously concave and unweilding places, and it can be hard to deal with. It’s inescapable, and there’s no point battling biology because starving oneself, overdoing exercise or turning to smoking to hide hunger pains will deplete your energy and mess up your body in the future. Plus your skin will be rubbish by the time you’re 24 and you won’t be able to make lots of money doing German catalogues.
PS, my boobs didn’t grow, which was really annoying.
OK so puberty happens. But I do also observe a few different trends here among new faces. There are:
- The girls who carry on eating loads and never put on a pound – these girls always come out with something annoying, like, “I’ve just always been sporty/did gymnastics as a child and stay really toned.” They just wake up with bigger boobs one day and then become lingerie models. I remember seeing this girl, Zoe Havler, who has one of THE most insane bodies, wolf down a full English once and she was never anything other than toned, lean and always seemed HAPPY.
- The girls who start smoking and not eating, stay tiny and carry on booking lots of shows but disappear around 23 because they’re tired, grey and burnt out – PLEASE don’t become one!
- The girls who have never so much as jogged for a bus since PE stopped and get a bit out of shape, but don’t really realise because previously they’d always been really skinny.
I was, without a doubt, the latter category. I don’t bemoan the ‘lady lumps’ that developed from puberty – on my shoot last Saturday, the make up artist and stylist stood poking my bum appreciatively saying to everyone else, “Look at that bum!” until the photographer made us get on with the shot.
However, I do bemoan the lack of exercise I did when I was younger, because keeping active when you’re younger helps maintain a toned body rather than spending years desperately trying to tone your body!
And that is my VERY roundabout way of saying – I wish I’d known about ballet-inspired exercise classes when I’d started modelling.
I’m not talking hardcore Black Swan here. They are classes inspired by ballet movements and exercises – lots of leg, arm and core work. Ballet classes improve your posture *immediately sits up from hunching over desk*. They strengthen your core, meaning that you only slouch on shoots when you have to. You are reminded, throughout the class, to keep your shoulders back and head upright – something you can forget by shot 85 of a day of ecomm!
There are proper ballet classes at a lot of gyms, but I do barre Pilates at The Klinik with Emily, and it’s torture. I shake and sweat and grimace and wince the whole way through – but in three months, my legs have changed shape, my arms and more lean and long, and my stomach is flatter. I even have half decent balance (before, I couldn’t stand still without toppling…)
It involves doing lots of varieties of plies for far too long, on tip toes – which means that muscles you weren’t aware of possessing start shaking, but also walking on heels will become easier! You get to wave your arms about gracefully and pretend you’re a ballerina, although I’m not sure that ballerinas have such red, sweaty faces when they do this.
To any New Face who’s just started out – take up a ballet class. At least do some Pilates. You’ll be toned for shoots, you’ll walk taller than the other models (and that’s saying something) and your body will be strong. You’ll also have a canon of exercises that you can do in hotel rooms & model apartments when you’re away, and in your bedroom when you don’t have time to get to a class.
And one day, you might look as graceful as me.
Check out Pilates at The Klinik – but if it’s sold out cos you’ve taken my place, I’ll be mad!!!