MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
In the main room of Midway Park Community Center aboard the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune housing area, people assembled into rows facing their instructor, Cyndi Feliciano, who lead them in a series of movements, stretching their arms up and slowly lowering them down to their sides.
“Inhale,” said Feliciano, followed by the sound of almost 20 people’s steady breathing in. “Exhale,” she said and a slow calm exhale came from each of them.
The Ballet Pilates Fusion Class had begun. Alternating between the two, the class shifts the focus of a workout from strength training to flexibility and stretching. While the workouts still increase strength, their mark lies more along the line of stress relief and body awareness.
“(Pilates and ballet) are very similar,” said Feliciano, one of three instructors who teach the class. “Pilates has been used to (rehabilitate) and strengthen dancers for years. It strengthens and tones in a safe way. It’s a nice break from resistance classes we‘ve had in the past.”
Teresa Mizusawa, a former dancer, was happy to see the class offered.
“It’s really cool,” said Mizusawa. “They really go hand in hand and it’s cool to see them together.”
The class has something to offer everybody. People of all skill levels and backgrounds made up the class.
“It’s fun and laid back,” said Victoria Braggiotti, the recreation specialist with Midway Park Community Center. “It’s very easy to understand. If you’re familiar with (ballet and pilates) it’s not boring, but if you aren’t, it’s not overwhelming. It’s good for a variety of ages. Every age group can benefit from it. Everybody takes it for different reasons and that’s the coolest part about it. ”
Lynn Ramirez, the group exercise coordinator with Marine Corps Community Services’ Semper Fit Division, thinks the location will help bring new faces to the fitness world.
“(The class) may reach people who don’t feel comfortable at the gym,” said Ramirez. “We might be missing a whole population of people here.”
The class was started by Feliciano and Christina Hardy, both who have an extensive background in pilates and dance, respectively.
“Inspiration comes from the instructors,” said Ramirez. “(Hardy and Feliciano) have fantastic backgrounds. Not using their talent would be crazy.”
While looking at trends in the fitness world, Hardy and Feliciano noticed classes that mixed elements of ballet and Pilates and saw an opportunity to bring their knowledge to a class that could benefit the MCB Camp Lejeune community.
The class has taken off, more than doubling its attendance from its first week to the second.
“We hope to see continued participation,” said Braggiotti. “The more people use programs like this, the more we can (offer). The program is great and free, but if we don’t use it, it goes away.”