How I Survived My First HIIT Workout With Puma and the NYC Ballet

puma, nyc ballet, hiit workout, lincoln
Ballet master Craig Hall (right) leads the dance section of the Puma x NYC Ballet workout at Lincoln Center Plaza.
Getty Images for Puma

When I was a kid, I always wanted to take dance  — ballet to be specific. I’d dream of doing pirouettes and pliés like a graceful ballerina but didn’t have the resources (read: money) growing up to join a class. And thus, I settled for my own room and mirror turned impromptu dance studio to practice my highly untrained “pointe.”

But as the old adage goes, be careful what you wish for. Nearly two decades later, Puma allowed me to have a glimpse of my heart’s desire by taking both my first dance and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) — emphasis on the intensity — with the New York City Ballet (NYCB), itself.

puma, nyc ballet, hiit workout, lincoln center plaza Puma and the NYC ballet hosted over 500 participants on the Lincoln Center Plaza for a high-intensity dance workout. Getty Images for Puma

“Our workout is a hybrid — a collaboration of ballet and core and strength training which is essential for dancers. For so long, we did all of our work in a studio and we realized that we needed more than just dance studio work in order to get strong,” explained Craig Hall, a ballet master with the NYCB and one of the event’s instructors, to Footwear News.

I was in Hall’s section for the duration of the workout, which consisted of various 10 to 15 minute sections including a warm-up, traditional dance techniques and HIIT. For the event, I wore all Puma gear: an Explosive Mesh Tank, a PWRSHAPE Forever sports bra, Explosive Velvet tights and Fierce Rope VR women’s training shoes.

puma, nyc ballet, hiit workout, lincoln center plaza Pre-workout at the Lincoln Center Plaza wearing head-to-toe Puma. Getty Images for Puma
puma, fierce rope vr, women's training shoes Puma’s Fierce Rope VR is lightweight and features a customizable lacing system. Courtesy of Puma.com

Puma Fierce Rope VR Women’s Training Shoe, $115; puma.com 

Not only would this mark my first dance and HIIT training, but it was also the first that I worked out in full-on Puma products. In the sneakers, a half-size down was recommended which was concerning at first as I thought they’d be too constricting. But once I began the warm-up, it turned out to be just enough room in the shoes to move around comfortably while still feeling secure.

puma, nyc ballet, hiit workout, lincoln center plaza Puma and the NYC ballet hosted over 500 participants on the Lincoln Center Plaza for a high-intensity dance workout. Getty Images for Puma

After the first half of the one hour workout, which was full of beginner ballet techniques combined with various cardio and strength exercises, we moved deeper into dancing. By this time, I had total confidence in my footwear — if not in my own physical health. While I’ve never doubted the strength or athleticism of dancers before, my body finally had the first-hand experience to feel it for myself. After a short while of moving from “second” arm position to “first” to “fifth” and repeating, my biceps and triceps felt like deadweight.

puma, nyc ballet, hiit workout, lincoln center plaza Ballet master Craig Hall (right) leads the dance section of the Puma x NYC Ballet workout at Lincoln Center Plaza. Getty Images for Puma

I remember thinking how grateful I was to not have on a heavy, sweat-laden t-shirt. The Puma tank was so lightweight and breathable that I barely even noticed it. As we added what I deemed “jumping dance kicks” in with our newfound arm movements, I wondered how the leggings would hold up — and how I would have held up if I’d taken dance back in the day. By this time, my non-fitness lifestyle was catching up to me and I felt faint. The effortlessness of the dancers and the Puma Team Fast trainers encouraged me to keep going — even if I did have to shift to the modified workouts toward the end.

puma, nyc ballet, hiit workout, lincoln center plaza Puma’s Team Fast trainers and NYC Ballet dancers led the dance and HIIT workout. Getty Images for Puma

Worried about legging slippage — any woman who has worked out in ill-fitting pants knows what this feels like — I went easy on the jumps at first. But it didn’t take long before it was clear that it was safe to jump and kick and move however I needed and the leggings were not budging. I could not only freely move, but didn’t have to worry about them feeling baggy as I worked out.

“We want people to feel comfortable to move around and to push themselves and Puma does a great job with recognizing that dancers aren’t just dancers and artists, but they’re athletes too. I think with the clothing and the footwear — I can dance in this. I can dance in sneakers. And the pants I’m wearing are very breathable and stretchy so I feel like I can do a grand jeté,” said Hall.

puma, nyc ballet, hiit workout, lincoln center plaza Post-workout in the Puma VIP lounge – I survived! Nia Groce

Counting down until the cool down, I pushed through the remainder of the workout. I was more than satisfied with the gear itself for getting me through, but my inner ballerina also smiled for having checked off her first dance class as well.