Above the Barre

balletEvery once in a while new fitness crazes hit the scene. Some are fads but some are rooted in years of study and practice.  Barre is a part of the latter.  People who practice barre claim that it can transform your physique and build long lean muscles.  What’s the truth?  Here’s the skinny on barre workouts.

What is Barre?

Barre is a new class that may be available at your gym. It’s a hybrid of ballet (hence the name), pilates and yoga.  It promotes balance while doing small movements that help to strengthen your core and incorporates weights to add some extra oomph to your workout.  Developed by a ballerina (no surprise there!) to combine ballet conditioning with rehabilitative therapy, the first barre studio was opened in 1959. 

Can Anyone Do Barre?

Yes!  It’s not just for dancers, even the rhythmically challenged may participate!  There’s no need to know dance technique or even positions.  All the moves are taught to you during the class and are easy to follow, though perhaps not so easy to do.  It’s not a cardio workout, but it will get your blood flowing and your muscles working hard.

The Workout

Most barre workouts follow the same basic structure.  It’s usually a mat based warmup of planks (ahhh!), pushups and even series of arm exercises to get your muscles warmed up and ready to go.  You continue with a lower body workout aimed at your glutes and thighs that may involve a chair for balance or even a ball to hold between your legs as you do the exercises.  You normally end with a core session on the barre (or chair!), then a cool down.  There’s music as well, and that is usually up to the preference of the instructor.

What Makes Barre Different?

You may be thinking “Ok, but what makes this different than a normal strength training class?”  It’s a good question!  The difference is that rather than large movements such as squats and shoulder presses, barre utilizes small movements called “isometric movements”.  The movements all take place within an inch, so it’s small movements that make a big difference.  If you’re used to move intense workouts you may not feel as if barre is giving you the workout you want, but have no doubt that it is a killer workout that will have you feeling every movement you make. 

Barre Benefits

Barre helps you to get stronger, for one.  It’s not about bulking up, but it is about creating power.  It’s also pretty low impact so if you have issues that make other classes impossible for you, barre could be an alternative.  Talk to your gym today or find a barre class near you to get more information.  Give it a try and see what you think!


Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Sara Ristić

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