Why Queen Camilla’s favourite workout is brilliant for older exercisers

How to exercise like a Queen – according to a new post on Camilla’s official social media account

With the Coronation of King Charles only days away, the royal family’s official social media account has been busy sharing details of our new King and Queen – including details of Camilla’s favourite workout. 

In a post profiling the Queen Consort, it was revealed that Camilla takes Silver Swans ballet classes to keep fit.  

The classes, for which television presenter Angela Rippon is an ambassador, were created by the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) specifically for the over55s. In-person classes are offered by licenced instructors across the UK, as well as via a series of free online video classes. 

Camilla, Queen Consort pictured wearing a tiara and a black and silver dressCredit: Shutterstock / Heide Pinkall
Camilla, Queen Consort enjoys Silver Swans ballet classes as part of her fitness regime

The post also confirmed Camilla as a fan of the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing, although her love of dancing has long been known.  

In a 2020 video call with Rippon and former ballerina and Strictly judge Dame Darcey Bussell, the then Duchess of Cornwall revealed how she paired dance classes with other activities as part of her exercise regime. 

“I do a combination of a bit of Silver Swans and a bit of Pilates and a lot of walking, which I love. It’s what we try and tell people to do to keep their bones strong,” she said. 

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In the same call, Camilla explained the importance she and husband Charles place on being active.

“If we don’t, we’ll just seize up and we won’t be able to get out of bed in the morning,” she said. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s 10 minutes or 20 minutes, it just starts off the day.” 

Speaking to Exceptional, Dr Michelle Groves, Director of Education at RAD’s Faculty of Education, emphasised the benefits of ballet. 

“Silver Swans classes improve mobility, posture, coordination, alertness and energy,” she said. “Although aimed at over-55s, there is no upper or lower age limit, with classes open to novices as well as those with previous dance experience.”   

Why ballet classes such as Silver Swans are great for older exercisers

“Silver Swans was created in response to a growing mature adult market wishing to take ballet classes,” says Dr Groves. 

Whether you enjoyed dance as a child or just fancy trying something new, adult ballet is a fantastic way to improve your fitness and have fun while doing so.  

Exercising to music is therapeutic and soothing, and doing so in a group can be even more motivating and inspirational. Ballet also has other health benefits – just some of which are listed below.  

1. Improves posture, mobility and flexibility

“The principles of ballet technique make Silver Swans more aware of their posture in everyday life, which in turn enhances greater mobility of limbs and flexibility in hips, shoulders and torso,” Groves tells us.  

For many of us, the lessons we learn about posture in a dance class stay with us through life. Standing upright and carrying ourselves correctly opens our rib cage, allowing our lungs to fully expand so we can breathe better.  

Ballet uses static and dynamic stretching, which helps us to connect with our bodies, pushing them further as flexibility increases. Over time this adds up, and you’ll soon notice that movement is easier. All this increased mobility makes you less prone to injury, too. 

2. Muscle strength and bone health

Ballet is a great way of getting stronger. Using your body weight, balancing, holding yourself and moving through space are all great ways to increase muscle tone, especially in your core.  

“With supported barre and unsupported centre practice exercises, regular attendance of classes increases muscle tone and bone health,” Groves says.  

Her Majesty is also president of the Royal Osteoporosis Society and knows the importance of staying active to protect bone health. Osteoporosis is especially prevalent in post-menopausal women, but the risk of developing the condition can be lessened with regular strength training, whether it’s lifting weights or using your bodyweight in a class such as Pilates or ballet.  

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Three older women doing a ballet exercise in a workout studioCredit: Shutterstock / BearFotos
Ballet-based workouts can be beneficial for older exercisers

3. A workout for the brain

Dancing – or indeed any form of exercise – requires you to use your grey matter. All this cognitive activity has been proven to slow memory decline.  

“Like any repetitive activity, ballet exercises engage your brain and body, building up short and long-term memory schemas and kinesthetic (muscle) memory,” Groves explains. “Remembering the sequencing of steps, the musical as well as performance interpretations, gives the brain a real workout.” 

Regular exercise also reduces stress and anxiety, which in turn helps brain function.

4. Improves mental wellbeing

It’s proven that being active and social is good for your health, and taking a class like Silver Swans combines the two. Being part of a dedicated fitness community is something special, and often lifelong friendships are formed.  

It’s something that Queen Camilla knows only too well. Speaking about Silver Swans in 2020, when she was made vice-patron of the Royal Academy of Dance, she said: “It had a wonderful feeling of comradeship, and also, it’s such a happy place. I think dancing makes you happy!” 

This view is echoed by other Silver Swans, confirmed Groves. “The Royal Academy of Dance has been overwhelmed by feedback on the holistic benefits of taking classes,” she said. “We love hearing how much people are enjoying classes, connecting with other likeminded Silver Swans and, quite simply, having great fun.  

“Silver Swans have taken so much delight in doing something they thought was beyond their reach by rediscovering – or experiencing for the first time – the joy that dance can bring.” 

Exercise makes us feel good, whether we’re beginners or not. When the Queen Consort first started, she was a newcomer to the activity, but she soon relished the wellbeing boost it brought: “It doesn’t matter whether you’ve done ballet or not. It’s something that will make you feel better. It gives you a certain amount of confidence in yourself. It’s just a bit of discipline there, which I think we all need in our lives. You might groan a bit afterward, and huff and grunt and everything else, but you do feel so much better.” 

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Becky Fuller

Written by Becky Fuller she/her

Published:

Becky Fuller is a Staff Writer for Fitness at Exceptional. Becky is a fully qualified Personal Trainer, specialising in strength and conditioning for over 50s. Becky is passionate about Kettlebell training, and runs a regular kettlebell club in the local community. Prior to this, she worked as a Fitness manager in a local gym. Becky’s focus is helping people to become stronger both in body and mind, and to move well without pain.

Becky also has many years’ experience working as a freelance journalist, writing for a wide variety of publications such as Screen Rant, Geek Feed, and Daily Actor. She also regularly reviews theatre productions for UKTW.

Away from work, Becky unsurprisingly enjoys exercise, with a focus on lifting weights, kettlebells, and Olympic rings. She loves watching theatre, swimming, and reading a good book. She has three teenage children and enjoys spending time with them, preferably on a Cornish beach.

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