New year, new workout–the annual fitness post

10/01/2014

Call to the bar in How to spend it, December 2013 (photography: Andrew Yee; styling: Damian Foxe)
Changes, as unwelcoming as some of them can be, always turn into experiences that make me learn something, see myself and my life in a different life, build up a new dimension and appreciate the fact of being…

My injury last year was one of those moments. Not only it made me appreciate my body and listen to it even more carefully than ever before, I also realised that working out isn’t as important for me as I’ve always thought. Because my body proved it to me.

Yes, it was difficult at first for it was a part of my routine and, in a way, a part of me. Working out made me feel good and I enjoyed the process. Cutting it out completely not because I wanted to, but because it was required felt unfair. At the end I had to deal with the reality and make a transition.

I spent the rest of the year walking, mostly with my dog and mainly in flat shoes. Honestly, I was both concerned and curious about the changes that would happen to my body. The way it responded to the changes surprised me – I got leaner, slimmer and calmer. It proved that eating well and staying moderately active (well, I did walk, after all) is enough to have a flat stomach and be slim and healthy.

I stopped asking myself “what if” and began living my life as it was, giving myself as much time as necessary to get well. Once I reached this point, I made a conscious decision to be more holistic when it comes to my choice of exercise and look for something both beautiful and effective. And this is how I came across the ballet conditioning

I’ve loved ballet since I was four and was given a pair of proper pointe slippers by our neighbour’s daughter who studied the art of dance. It was always about a fantasy… Memories of Odille and 32 fouettés in Petipa’s Swan Lake, the Fokine’s mesmerising Swan wrapped in waves of Camille Saint-Saëns’s music, the waltz of the flowers in the Nutcracker, the Giselle’s solo and Maya Plisetskaya’s unforgettable Carmen. Dreams of being a ballerina…

Although I remained a spectator, I never stopped loving it. Once it crossed my mind to use it as a form of exercise, I looked through pretty much every DVD available on the market including the Barre method, NY city ballet workout, Ballet fitness and the most recent addition, Ballet beautiful, but it was the Element video that turned out to be exactly I was after.

Now I can pretend that I am a part of a ballet class and practice in a privacy of my own home, just me, tv and a sturdy chair.

It feels right. It makes me feel feminine, but also stronger and toned. And it’s probably the closest to the real ballet class and not just another version of Pilates-based routine with a few pliés thrown in for authenticity.

I am planning to combine it with an occasional Pilates and yoga as the time goes by, but I don’t think I will be going back to anything more strenuous than that until further notice.

Chloe Spring/Summer 2011
Photo source: Call to the bar in How to spend it, December 2013 (photography: Andrew Yee; styling: Damian Foxe), Chloe Spring/Summer 2011 via vogue.com, ballet slippers via KTMerry

72 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your recovery. I was injured in a car crash and have been trying to get back to my life before this happened. I have also been working on walking a lot, my dog loves it... :) Cheers to you and your recovery!
    New follower *hearts*
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    1. So sorry to hear - your accident sounds terrible and I hope you will feel like your happy self sooner rather than later. I walk with my dog, too and we really enjoy our time together. :)

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  2. Love this inspiration!!

    http://fahmongers.wordpress.com

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  3. I love ballet, great choice of 'sports' (I have been doing it since I was 5 years old haha!) The music in Swan Lake and the Nutcracker are my favourite pieces of Tchaikovsky! I had no idea there were instruction videos on how to learn ballet but it sounds fun! It's soooo hard and difficult but so good for your posture and body! Keep going Natalia, and maybe you'll be on stage in the Opéra in Paris some day ... I dreamt about that so many times haha xxx

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    1. Oh, Emilie… No way I will be on a stage or even try to study ballet seriously.. I will most likely look like a hippo in a tutu (or as Russians say "a cow in a skating rink"). I danced for a while when I was a kid, but gave it up because I was very busy at music school and, frankly, am not built to be a good ballerina. This kind of workout is much more simple that serious ballet, but effective and enjoyable. And that's all I need for now. x

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  4. Sounds like an awesome plan and I'd love to take up yoga this year :)

    Hayfa
    www.londonloafers.com

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    1. Yoga is fantastic! Do you know what kind of yoga you prefer? There are so many… x

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  5. Great post. I think anyone how has injured themselves know that you must not rush into it. You're doing the right thing. I injured my knee and ankle badly. But, I did yoga initially, and I am an avid Pilates devotee for over 10+ years and it's improved my body in addition to eating a lot healthier. :) Happy New Year. :)

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    1. Agree, though at the start I was tempted to do things as if I was ok, so had to remind myself to slow down… So now it's little by little. x

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  6. Well done Natalia, you do so well. Love ballet since I was a child, I took classes too and my love for it is still strong even though now I didnt dance anymore. I think there isnt other art more beautiful than classic dance, the Waltz of Flowers are my ever fav, one of my dreams is to see the NYC ballet in action. Keep on dear!:) Kisses! xo

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    1. That's probably why you have such a great posture and is so slim, Lilli! I think if one studies ballet properly and does it for a few years, it stays with them forever. I had to give up my classes (not really serious, I was only a little kid) because music school kept me very busy, so I guess I am making up for it now. :)
      x

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  7. Glad you doing better take your time recovery.
    Thank you for visiting my blog.
    http://tifi11.blogspot.com

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  8. Great post, fitness is so important for me. For my body and my soul. Can't live without sport
    http://glamupyourlifestyle.blogspot.de/?m=1

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  9. How lovely that post is!

    xx
    FashionEvELand | FEEL

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  10. I am a firm believer that what we put into our body is more important and dictates our health and physique to a much greater extent. I'm hard core about eating clean, super healthy and vegetarian. I don't work out as intensely as I did in my younger days, but I still do 45mins of cardio almost everyday, hot power yoga every Tuesday, and weights 3 times a week. I adore ballet and would love to find a local class myself.
    I think your perspective on this is very very healthy and this is a fabulous post.
    enjoy your ballet, girl:)
    XO,Gina
    http://classyeverafter.blogspot.com

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    1. Gina, I also exercised a lot in the past. I did weight training three times a week and combined it with cardio on alternative days. I only slowed down a year or so ago, it just felt right. I think once we make peace with our bodies they give us the signals to follow, both when it comes to our activities and diet. As a nutritionist and generally healthy living devotee, I am a huge believer that this kind of practice is the right one. x

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  11. Great post. I totally agree that we all have to listen to our bodies and act accordingly. It will always tell us what it needs. Especially after injury. I was thinking to find some ballet classes or Pilates in my city, but now I will definitively look for a DVD. Thank you for the recomendation. Happy New Year.

    Fabulous 30s

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    1. I think if you've never done Pilates before then finding a good instructor is a good idea to start with, just to learn the technique and then practice with DVDs because you will be able to pick the best ones to suit you. x

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  12. I'm loving those pictures. So beautiful. I am pretty into yoga myself! It's very relaxing but you will be sore the next day! (especially if you do a lot of balancing poses!) If I'm in the mood for a crazy workout, I will go to hot yoga. Oh my gosh you feel like a million bucks when you leave that!
    www.amemoryofus.blogspot.com

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  13. Sometimes negative experiences can yield positive changes like it did in your case. This sounds like an exercise routine you will enjoy. I've had to adjust my workouts since my injury and even though I miss kickboxing, I've learned to enjoy pilates. Even though I can't wait to do yoga again, I def. won't be rushing into it until I'm actually ready.

    Rowena @ rolala loves

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    1. You are absolutely right, with everything you've had to deal with last year, it's so so so important to take things slow. Your body will thank you for it. x

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  14. I agree with Madison above. It's good that you're taking it easy. This ballet conditioning sounds really great. I've always been in awe of ballet dancers. Have never tried Pilates but I only hear great things about it:)

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    1. Pilates is wonderful! It makes you feel so relaxed, stretched and strong afterwards. x

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  15. Wow! What a really inspiring and motivating post, Natalia! I love how you started with such a simple thing - going on daily walks! Ballet is so intense and I can only imagine how the workouts are! I wish you the best of luck in your fitness journey! <3 xo

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    1. Thank you, Jessica! Walks were a must, to be honest. My dog wouldn't go with anyone else, so I just had to get out with him. First, short-distance, then farther and farther… x

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  16. Great! Interesting Post ,love it :)

    big Hugs!!!!

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  17. I went through a similar experience about five years ago. After a very active youth - I did gymnastics and ballet until I was nineteen - I found myself, like most people do, going to the gym often because I felt I needed to exercise often, and hard, to maintain my body as it was. This resulted in the discovery of an undiagnosed injury from my ballet days that, unfortunately, I will have to live with until it becomes severe enough to require surgery. I was forced out of the gym and never able to go back, which was terrifying at first, but in the end, turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. I relaxed. I actually lost weight. And in the end, I discovered an activity I truly love - yoga - and that keeps me balanced, fit and centered at once. It was a difficult experience, but it turned out to be for the best - and I can see you feel the same way :)
    xox,
    Cee

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    1. Absolutely! Though I am sorry to hear about the injury - I was under the impression that you recovered fully, so it's such a shame that you have to live with it. x

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  18. Thanks for commenting on my blog! Lovely post! I studied ballet for over 10 years - beautiful but hard work & puts a lot of stress on the body. I absolutely love dance - it's part of who I am, and I also love yoga, which is fantastic for the body xx
    http://milimola.blogspot.co.uk/

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  19. That sounds like a good plan. I am sorry for your injury but it seems like you have a good plan for this year. I have always wished I could do ballet. It is such a beautiful dance

    ❤Tallia
    Trending In Fashion
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  20. I do Pure Barre and have never heard of Element. I will have to give it a try. Good luck to staying fit in the new year!

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    1. I was thinking about the Barre, but at the moment it seems like something I may not be ready to do just yet, though I love the idea and hope to get to it some time in the future. x

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  21. Great plan!

    The pics are really nice :)

    Hugs
    Svetlana from Lavender Star

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  22. amazing post. Huge pleasure to read x

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  23. Great post, great plan
    xoxoxo

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  24. I am so glad for you deciding to "sport" :) I think it's the best way, combined with a healthy life style, to maintain a good looking, healthy body.

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  25. Hi Natalia, thanks for introducing me to this very intriguing form of exercise, it sounds so graceful and really helpful. Thanks for sharing your fashionable thoughts on my last post. Happy Weekend!

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    1. Hi Sam, I do think it's one of the most beautiful form of exercise for women because you feel like a woman whilst doing it… x

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  26. lovely pics :)
    I love the dress :)

    Kisses
    http://www.mademoisellemode.com/

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  27. Inspiring post! I love ballet, I find it so feminine and elegant! =)

    http://whattostyle.blogspot.com/

    xoxo,
    Jess

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  28. love the ballerina inspired tutu dresses, they are so dreamy and beautiful!

    Check out my blogpost featuring UNIF holographic and origami goodness :)
    AL xx
    RASSP blog

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  29. Love the ballet slippers

    http://www.fashionroll.com

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  30. Как же я люблю балет, это безумно красиво. А что до ёги, то я считаю это весьма полезным занятием для души и тела, я и сама пару лет назад посещала такие тренировки, но если честно мне надоело и я бросила.
    Снимки просто божественные!

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    1. Саш, мне кажется, что йога - это нечто, что либо нужно, либо нет… То есть это не просто физические упражнения, но и что-то для души… Иногда мне просто физически необходимо "погнуться" :), эта стадия может длится несколько дней, или несколько месяцев… А потом наступает момент, когда организму и сознанию хорошо и так. Я одно время занималась кундалини-йогой, это было так здорово… В общем, я смешиваю пилатес, йогу и теперь вот балет (раньше были силовые и кардио). Посмотрим, как пойдет. Все дело - в балансе, как мне кажется. x

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  31. Dear Natalia, I would love that too! Now I will check out the links you have provided in the post! It's been 20 years since I last wore my ballet shoes and ballet has always been a dream for me!
    Love,
    Coco
    Coco et La vie en rose
    Coco et La vie en rose on Bloglovin
    Coco et La vie en rose on Facebook

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  32. Great training!!! I never injured myself...but I do not practice any sport either ^^
    xoxo

    Novelstyle

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  33. Yay for progress. I've been dealing with this horrible pinched nerve in my back for the last month and I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things. Very slowly but surely.

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    1. Hope it all goes well! Sounds really painful! x

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  34. Beautiful photos!!! I love ballet, is fantastic:) Today on my blog the panther coat: ) Photos were taken at dark and light moods sun. I hope you like this style of photography? I invite and I greet: )

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  35. Yoga is a grate idea, it helps with your core strength and gives you grate posture like dance would of Yoga is a grate way to keep in shape.

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  36. I feel for you that the injury happened to you, but in a way, it sounds like it was actually a great thing because of how you responded and grew from your lessons. I did ballet for one year when I was little and realized that it was not for me---I'm just not flexible! However, those videos might be a way for me to get back into it without embarrassing myself.

    Brittney

    anotherbeautifulthing.blogspot.com

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  37. ballet conditioning sounds very cool! sorry to hear about your injury.. great new years resolution!
    www.lettersimpromptu.blogspot.com

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  38. Nice that you found the ideal work out for you! It's true that walking and eating healthy & in moderation can be enough to stay in shape.

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  39. I hope you fully recover and those sound like some resolutions to keep. I wish you all the best and I hope that the 1st week of 2014 has been treating you well.

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  40. Thanks a lot for this honest post. Just yesterday I visited my little niece and she is a huge fan off ballett and of this cause I read a book about this sport with her and I thought that this sport is not only great but must be also wonderful for the soul. Like you walked last year I do this - I think you know this already - nearly daily with my lovely husband and I have to admit that these daily walks belongs to the best things in my life. I enjoy not only the time and talkings during this walks together with my husband, I have additional the feeling that this walkings are really good for my health and my shape, too.

    Wish you many fun and success with your decision.

    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

    www.dressedwithsoul.blogspot.de

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    1. I love walking so much, Rena! It's true that they are wonderful for keeping one active and as a way to relax. I walk with my dog every day and in weekends my husband joins us. I love those moments. :)

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  41. I´m not sure, dear Natalia, if my comment was saved, so I try it again. I think ballett is not only really good for your health but for your soul, too. Just yesterday I visited my little niece and as she likes ballett very much we read together a book about this topic and I had exactly this thoughts.

    Like you did it last year I walk nearly daily with my husband, and these walks belongs to the best things in my life.

    Wish you many success with your decision.

    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

    www.dressedwithsoul.blogspot.de

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  42. Interesting. I normally exercised 3-5 times a week during the fall. Then I got this horrible flu that made me not exercise for seven weeks..uhh! But, I too do agree that it can be good to slow down and eat more healthy instead. I didn´t put on those extra pounds that I feared. Long to get back, but it did make me consider more yoga and pilates as well instead of the more hard core training that I used to do. Hope you´re well into the new year! xo Caroline

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    1. I often wonder how many women exercise really hard not because they REALLY enjoy it, but because they want to keep the weight off or lose it. As a nutritionist I deal with so many cases (weight loss is one of my specialities :) ) when women develop a fear of living without hardcore fitness because they think they aren't going to succeed, which isn't always true… x

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  43. Great post :)

    Marisa Silva
    http://stylingdreams.blogspot.pt

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  44. Ballet inspired exercises are my favorite :)

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  45. I remember what you went through last year Natalia. I really felt for you. It definitely altered your routine. I often hear people say, how they have loss weight by doing such things as yoga and ballet (and it's less strenuous on the joints). Their bodies have a sense of balance, strength and sleekness. I think you are making excellent choices. You're doing something you love. Your body will thank you for it. Proud of you! ((HUG))
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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  46. Well done and best wishes to you. I admire your outlook and how far you have come. Ballet is lovely and walking with your dog sounds so beneficial.

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  47. I love ballet conditioning. I have the same DVD that you linked here and used it for the first time yesterday. I can feel the workout today, but definitely in a good way. I'm looking forward to using it more. I also have the Ballet Beautiful DVDs and the first NYC Ballet DVD and I enjoy them all. It really is a great form of exercise!

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  48. Wow good for you Natalia. I'd never considered ballet as a form of exercise for 'regular' people but can totally see it after reading this post - sounds intriguing actually, might have to look into it here in Singapore!

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  49. I've always thought that walking is the best exercise. At least for me, this is the type of exercise with the best results. And dancing is very close to it. I've taken a few dance classes over the years and I exercise every time I have the chance at home, I enjoy it so much more than fitness or aerobics, plus the feel-good mood I'm in every time I dance says it all. The ballet idea is wonderful too.

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  50. Happy New Year! A little belated but I've only recently returned from my holiday. I'm always drawn to ballet themed posts as I attended classes from the age of three to seventeen including pointe work. Thanks for the introduction to this ballet conditioning DVD which I'm going send for as I think it will complement my weekly pilates class.

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  51. Наталия,дорогая здравствуйте!
    Прошу прощения что не сумела как следует хорошо написать свой комментарий на хорошем английском.....:(
    Прочла все 71 комментарии! Супер здорово и ваши ответы!
    Знаю что по-русски лучше сумею выразить свои чувства и мысли:)
    Какой чудесный и просто безумно релаксационный вдохновляющий пост,спасибо еще раз!
    О Балет.... Это пожалуй одно из самых божественных искусств в мире,чудо о котором можно мечтать и наслаждаться вечно!
    Я так же как и многие маленькие девочки лет с 5 мечтала о большом балете!!!
    Мама отвезла меня поступать в хореографическое училище в Киеве,мы в то время жили на Украине:) Сшила мне специально для этого платье из очень плотного шелка,с подьюбником из капрона..... Моя мечта казалось почти осуществилась!!!
    Но нет.... Именитые члены жюри посмотрев на мою маму сказали что эта девочка в ближайшем будущем будет очень плотной и с широкой костью,не балерина:(((
    Сколько было слез......
    Рухнули мечты!
    Я действительно никогда не была хрупкой,тоненькой и воздушной,какими должны быть балерины в моем представлении:)
    И по сей день просто абожаю балет и вообще искусство танца и перевоплощения...
    Мне очень импонирует ваше описание внутреннего состояния в моменты раздумий,поиска себя и приходу к этому вашему новому решению,великолепно когда тело и сознание находятся в балансе или же мне бы очень хотелось сказать: в гармонии!

    Желаю вам,милая Наталия прекрасных ощущений и действительно чистого перехода в фантастически яркую и в то же время в ментально спокойную и радостную фазу в жизни!:)

    ***Виолетта***

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