At 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds, Steve McLendon fits right in on a football field.
At a ballet studio, not so much.
Yet that's where McLendon, who is expected to be the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting nose tackle this year, has found a unique and helpful form of training.
In a recent profile of McLendon in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ed Bouchette writes that the 27-year-old McLendon enrolled in ballet as a senior at Troy University because he thought it would be an easy class. As it turned out, the class was one of the most beneficial of McLendon's college career.
After signing with the Steelers in 2009, McLendon started taking ballet classes twice a week at a studio in Pittsburgh. He even told Bouchette that "it's harder than anything else I do."
Perhaps the reason for that assessment is that his instructor, Stephanie Kibler, says she works McLendon harder than most of her students.
"I work him harder than the majority of women will ever work in a ballet setting," Kibler told Bouchette. "He does it well. He might have sweat dripping off him and looking at me like I'm crazy, but he does it. He really works hard. It's almost like he's mastering the craft of ballet. He's not in there just for football."
McLendon went undrafted in 2009, and so in order to make an NFL roster and rise up the ranks he had to show some serious potential. Even though he was playing behind the veteran Casey Hampton, McLendon still managed to see action in every game last year and record a pair of sacks.
He credits ballet with keeping him off the disabled list.
"It keeps you injury free, your ankles, keeps your feet strong, your toes strong, you get away from knee injuries," McLendon said. "I can tell when I don't do it in my body."
McLendon is not the first Steeler to practice ballet. Hall of Fame receiver Lynn Swann, whose smooth moves on the field were often compared to a dancer, famously took ballet classes and even performed in Pittsburgh.
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