I have always admired ballerinas because they are crazy-flexible, lean, balls of muscle. How do they get that way? At the ballet barre. Many of us have not the time, nor the desire to train as much or as hard as they do, but we can get that long, sculpted look.
What is Barre? Well, it’s one of my FAVORITE WORKOUTS EVER! This workout is done in a studio at a ballet barre with some floor work (no sashaying across the floor or leaping, but core work done on the floor.) Using little to no weight, the instructor takes you through an hour-long workout designed to work every inch of your body from head to toe. Props include small dumbbells from 1-5 pounds (trust me, 3 pounds is enough and I had to work my way up to that), a small rubber ball, a circular resistance band or tube and a strap. It is a total body workout that includes a zillion push-ups, never-ending planks, butt, thigh and calf work the will completely transform your body. I like it because it helps me work the smaller muscles and balances out my figure as I tend to bulk up really quickly. Although I love to throw around heavy weight, I don’t want to look like a man. The other reason I love it is because it incorporates stretching. I have become more flexible because of the stretching that is done throughout the class while the muscles are warmed up so it’s not boring.
All studios are bare-foot, but suggest that you wear grip socks which become super important during the plank section of the workout. Depending on the studio you go to and the instructor you get you will get very different experiences. At Pure Barre, for example, I kind of felt like I was in a dance studio. Everyone moved together for the most part and most of the exercises were done to an 8-count. Props included a small red ball that reminded me of the kickball from my school days, a mat and resistance tubing. At Flybarre, the choreography took us through the exercises and we kept moving until the song was done. Props were similar to Pure Barre. My final experience was Exhale Spa. I LOVE their Core Fusion Barre class! At first, I was like “Y’all are not moving together”, but then I started to enjoy the freedom to move at my own pace. The music is upbeat, the class is intense and I am SOAKED by the end of it. My heart rate monitor has registered a calorie burn of up to 451 calories in the hour.
As a person who LOVES to lift heavy weight, lately, I have found myself skipping the gym and free-weights, opting instead for the full body Barre workout. My muscles are getting tighter, my clothes looser and I feel fantastic! If you decide to try a barre class in your area, I would recommend trying more than one studio, if possible and certainly more than one instructor. Each instructor has their own strengths, styles of teaching, music, etc. Try not to be too intimidated when you first start. It is highly likely that you will have to take several breaks and that’s normal. Pace yourself, but push yourself-it will get easier. After doing a month at Pure Barre, stopping for several months, then starting again at Exhale, I have found that it takes about 8 sessions to really feel like you understand the postures, positions and movements and to be able to get through a session without stopping.
I’d love to know what your experiences have been with Barre. Feel free to share in the comment section below.