Getting in shape for the summer (and beyond) doesn’t have to be complicated. Ask Dani Brickman, a former professional ballerina turned fitness trainer, who incorporates her dancer training into full-body workouts that fuse stretching, sculpting, strengthening—and, of course, sweating!

The Cleveland-based Ellie fitness influencer recommends beginning and ending your workout with ballet basics: a balancing exercise to connect with your core and stretching to reward and train your muscles.

Keep reading for the 6 fitness moves Dani suggests you start now—no barre necessary and beach optional!


Dani says: “You can do this one time on each leg or as many times as you like before as a warm-up. This is a favorite of mine, because it gives you a moment to activate and tune in to your body.”

  1. If possible, stand on the sand facing the water. Start with your feet hip-width apart and close your eyes. Concentrate on feeling your body. Feel your abs drawing in and pulling tight, let your shoulders drop down. Keeping your neck long, imagine a string is pulling the top of your head, activating your core.
  2. Open your eyes and focus. Lift one leg, bend at the knee and rest your foot by the ankle of your supporting leg.
  3. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
  4. Repeat on the opposite leg.

    balancing exercise

    Need a Modification? Stay with both legs on the ground. Concentrate on finding your core and strengthening your form on both legs.


    Dani says: “Really squat down in those legs as you push off and land. In the switch, try to push up and get some air to feel your legs working extra hard! You will feel your heart beating and your muscles working. Cardio and strengthening? Bonus!”

    1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, hold your abs in and your back strong. Get into a squat position with your hands held out in front of you.
    2. Squat down and push through your heels quickly, upward and rotate your entire body so that your left leg is landing where your right leg began. Land softly and squat deeply to absorb the shock.
    3. Repeat by rotating to the opposite side until you’ve completed 10 reps each side (20 total).
    4. Complete 3 full sets.

    twisting jump squat

    Need a Challenge? For more range of motion add a mound of sand that you have to jump over! Start with one foot in the middle of the mound, the other by the side, and push up and over switching feet and sides.

    Need a Modification? Do normal squat jumps. Straight up and down, concentrating on form, making sure your knees stay aligned with your toes and your getting low in those legs while keeping your chest up and core held tight.


    Dani says: “This is a great exercise to get those abs beach ready! Get your hands in the warm sand making it extra motivating and fun!” 

    1. Stand lifted tall with feet together and your core engaged.
    2. Bend at your hips and reach your hands to the sand, feeling your abs engage. As soon as your fingertips touch, begin to walk out with your hands until you reach a plank position.
    3. Hold for a second before you begin to walk your hands back toward your feet, and lift your hips to the sky. When your feet are flat, bend at the hips again and curl back up to the standing position.
    4. Do 10 reps.
    5. Complete 3 full sets.

      plank crawl

      Need a Modification? Hold a Plank Position (either straight legged or using your knees, on your hands or using your forearm). Hold for as long as you can feeling your abdominals engage and your back straight and strong. Work on holding these muscles in a straight line.


      Dani says: “This is a great exercise to tighten that booty!”

      1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands held out in front of you, and core engaged as you squat all the way down. Imagine you’re reaching for an imaginary chair with your booty.
      2. As you stand, lift one leg straight up behind you while squeezing your glute. As the leg lowers down, lower back into a squat position, then lift the opposite leg.
      3. Continue alternating legs long and straight, while squeezing the glute muscle as you lift your leg behind you. Don’t forget to hold your back strong and keep your abs engaged.
      4. Do 10 reps on each leg (20 total)
      5. Complete 3 full sets.

      squat leg kickback

      Need a Modification? Just do kickbacks. If you need help with balance hold on to a table or tree, concentrating on lifting the leg behind and activating the glute.


      Dani says: “These are great for toning your arms for all those sleeveless summer tops and dresses!”

      1. Find a picnic table or some driftwood—be creative! Position your hands shoulder-width apart.
      2. Slide off in front of the “bench” with your legs extended out in front of you.
      3. Straighten your arms keeping a slight bend to your elbows to keep tension on your triceps and off your elbow joints.
      4. Slowly bend your elbows to lower your body toward the ground until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle.
      5. Once you reach the bottom, push through your hands to straighten your elbows and lift yourself back up. Make sure to keep your shoulders down and your core engaged.
      6. Do 10 reps.
      7. Complete 3 full sets.

      triceps dips

      Need a Modification? Bend your legs, but concentrate on using your arms and not pushing from your legs.

      MOVE #6 - STRETCH

      Dani says: “Stretching at the end of a workout elongates muscles that are prone to get tight by increasing the blood flow. Over time, stretching will increase your flexibility, range of motion, improve your posture, and help prevent pain. On top of all of that, it also gives you amazing mental benefits like stress relief, tension relief and it can calm your mind.”

      Stretch #1 Seated Hamstring Stretch

      Start with a seated hamstring toe touch with your legs lengthened out in front of you, then bend at the waist and reach your fingertips toward your toes. If you can’t reach your toes, grab your shins and lean as far forward as you can to feel a good stretch. Don’t pull yourself farther than your body allows. You want to feel a good stretch, not pain.

      Seated Hamstring Stretch

      Stretch #2 Hip Stretch

      Cross your legs into a crisscross position. Bend at the waist and forward over your legs, and reach your hands straight out along the ground in front of you. You will feel a stretch on the outside of your hips and lower back. If you feel anything sharp or painful, stop and relax immediately. Make sure to cross the opposite leg in front and reach forward again, because each leg in front provides a stronger stretch on each side.

      Stretch #3 Standing Hamstring, Chest and Back Stretch

      Slowly stand up with feet together, hip-width apart or wider. Lean forward and reach for the ground with your hands bending at the waist. Relax down, keeping your legs straight. After 30-45 seconds, slowly curl up to a standing position. Clasp your fingertips together behind you and arch your back, stretching the front of your shoulders and chest. Look up to the sky, hold for 15 seconds and slowly release coming back to a standing position.

      Standing Hamstring, Chest and Back Stretch

      Pictured on Dani: Peace & Pastels. One of our favorite past collections!

      For more workout tips and fitness inspiration, follow Dani on Instagram: @dani_brickman.

      Show us your favorite summer-ready moves and tag us! #loveellie.