Deceptively Difficult Dancing: Total Gym Pilates & Ballet Barre Workout

Total Gym Pilates and Dance video

It’s Time To Dance and Workout!


Dance, Pilates and Barre, these 3 words have been a staple in my life for as long as I can remember. When you think about a dancer, what probably comes to mind is someone who is able to endure hours of jumping and moving their body in ways that seem to defy the human form. Then the next thing is how physically and mentally fit they are. What do dancers do to prepare themselves for these movements? Pilates and Barre are two of the main disciplines or workouts that create that long, lean, toned body that everyone admires.


By now you have either taken or walked by one of these classes, and like most fitness classes not all are created equal. It can all come down to your instructor, and how well they can translate this historical workout to be fun and mold you into something that might resemble a dancer’s body. There is no doubt that when taken seriously you will sweat and shake, all while asking yourself “is the body supposed to do that?”


I am going to give you 4 exercises that will not only sculpt your legs, arms and core. But also prepare you for movements that you might find yourself in everyday life. The best thing is that all you will need is your Total gym with Toe Bar (click here to purchase). If you want to make it more challenging, you can add things but more than likely you won’t need to. Before we get to the exercises here is a quick breakdown of Pilates and Barre.



Created by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, was first known as Contrology – the study and art of controlled movement. Later called Pilates, when done consistently improves flexibility, builds strength and develops control and endurance in the entire body.



A hand rail fixed to the wall found in a dance studio, used primarily by ballet dancers as a support in certain exercises. And what has now evolved into fitness Barr Classes for everyday person.


Remember, when doing these exercises, honor your body and build up to it. Be fully present, breath and enjoy!




1. Plie’s in bridge (with battement-kick) (bicycle)


You will need a Toe Bar

  • Place your tower on level 4 or lower
  • Sit on bottom of glide board facing toe bar
  • Lay down and place feet (heels) on toe bar
  • Legs parallel and together
  • Take a deep inhale, on exhale roll your pelvis up until you are in a bridge
  • With a soft chest, ribs in, slide your arms down the glide board as you extend your legs moving the glide board up towards the tower
  • Bend knees and repeat movement


ADVANCED: Take your right foot off of the toe bar and reach your leg to the ceiling

  • As you bend and extend your left leg make a kicking/bicycle motion with the right leg
  • When you are done, place right foot back on toe bar and roll your spine down to repeat on the other side



  • When you are in a bridge try to stay in a neutral spine. If you can’t, then just do a light pelvic tuck. You must focus on abdominal engagement, ribs tucked, chest soft, crown of head reaching towards the tower.

2. Long Back Stretch


You will need a Toe Bar

  • Sit on the toe bar with legs in parallel facing the tower
  • Place hands on toe bar with knuckles facing the tower (or away)
  • Lift hips off of the toe bar with strong extended arms, reaching the crown of your head to the ceiling
  • Placing your pelvis in neutral you will look like the letter L
  • On an inhale bend your elbows lowering your hips to the floor
  • Exhale, scoop your pelvis in a C shape to press the glide board out going into a plank with elbows straight
  • Take an inhale, then exhale roll through the spine using your lower abdominals to scoop your pelvis back to neutral as the glide board closes back to starting position
  • Reverse



  • If you have any neck or shoulder issues please be careful, you might want to skip this exercise. Pay close attention to articulation of the spine, your abdominal ad pelvic movement is what initiates the glide board to move. Always keep a long neck and be aware of shoulder placement. Your chest should not be caving in, lastly let your breath be long and controlled so that you can focus on your movement.


3. Reverse standing thigh stretch (option with plank transition)


You will need a Toe Bar

  • Stand on the glide board facing the tower
  • Place right foot 6inches down from top of glide board
  • Take your left leg and place the ball of your foot on the toe bar (make sure it is in line with your hip)
  • Lower your pelvis until your right leg is in bent in a 90% lunge position and your left leg is straight
  • Keeping your back leg straight, Press through your heel as you straighten and bend your front leg
  • Close the glide board and switch sides



  • ADVANCED: Keeping the glide board slightly open, take your right leg back to the toe bar, you are now in a plank position. Switch by bringing your left leg forward to the top of the glideboard in a lunge position




  • There is not one muscle that is not fired on. Make sure that you are reaching the crown of your head away from the heel of your back foot.


4. Super woman/man glideboard press


You will need a Toe Bar

  • Stand behind your toe bar
  • Facing the tower, place the top of your thighs on the top of the toe bar
  • Bend forward bringing your hands to the bottom of the glideboard (or middle, it depends on your strength)
  • Lift your legs in super woman/man dive keeping entire body strong and engaged
  • With your shoulders back and with a long neck, straighten your arms moving the glide board towards the tower
  • Bend your elbows moving your glide board towards the foot bar and repeat arm motion
  • Do up to 8 reps.
  • When done close the glide board and place your feet back on the floor




  • Because you absolutely have no support besides the toe bar you must be engaged in the entire body! Go slow and control your movements. If you want to make this more difficult just add a weight plate on the glideboard.


I hope you enjoy these exercises as much as I do.


Until next time!



Melissa Muñiz

Melissa L. Muniz is a certified Pilates Instructor, Dance teacher, Choreographer, Actor, Model and full time Mom! She has spent over a decade traveling the world studying traditional dance such as Flamenco in Spain and cultural dance in Indonesia to name but a few. She has toured with Nickelodeon as a dance performer and actor and starred in several music videos and movies. Melissa had the opportunity to train teachers for the opening of the first Pilates Studio in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and has been working with Total Gym as a Gravity Master Trainer since 2002. She has loved the inspiration and support that Total Gym gives and lives by. Melissa now resides with her family in Atlanta GA, teaching at a Wellness Center where she infuses life, happiness and understanding of the body, to those with an open heart and mind.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. On another level.. Excellent sophisticated movements based on solid structural and movement principles – more please! These are the types of exercises that differentiate (and champion) the use of a Total Gym system from everything else in the gym.

    Especially appreciate the detail cues on what cannot be easily observed: breathing as the basis of initiating and bracing the body for the movements, emphasis on posture throughout the “life-cycle” of the movements etc.

    Would be awesome if this was further developed into a program/ formalised method – available online.. for purchase of course 🙂

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