by Jessica Von Duerring, Pilates and Barre-Certified
It may look like ballet, but it's not. Barre fitness classes are simply ballet-inspired, incorporating a ballet barre and maybe some plies and pirouettes here and there into the workout. Essentially, barre classes mix elements of Pilates, dance, yoga and functional training, and the moves are choreographed to motivating music. In each energizing and targeted workout, you’ll use the barre and exercise equipment such as mini-balls and small hand weights to sculpt, slim and stretch your entire body. Here are 10 reasons to try a barre workout!
1. Hard on muscles, kind on joints. The small, super-controlled movements that take place in barre classes reduce pressure on your joints, tendons, ligaments and spine. By doing barre regularly, you'll also notice a remarkable improvement in your core strength and posture. While a tight core will give you a taller appearance, it will also keep you safe from injuries.
2. No experience required. Everyone has different starting points, strengths and challenges, and instructors recognize that. If you are worried about not having any dance training or fear you won’t be able to ‘get it’ or keep up, rest assured that instructors will guide you through the movements and offer helpful feedback without singling you out. And, remember, each person can be challenged at their own level in class without affecting anyone else’s workout. Always measure progress against yourself; not the person next to you!
3. Be worked from head to toe. After each satisfyingly exhausting class, your entire body will truly feel WORKED. You’ll feel stretched, strengthened and invigorated. It truly does foster its own ‘barre high’.
4. Work muscles to failure. Barre's tiny motions, many reps, intentional squeezes and pulses (otherwise known as isometric moves) are designed to fatigue muscles to failure. Embrace the shaking as it’s totally natural for your muscles to quiver uncontrollably – it means you are exhausting that muscle and forcing it to tone.
5. Modifications for every age and level. The beauty of barre classes is that everyone works with small movements and can limit or expand their range of motion to suit their specific needs. Exercises can always be modified whether you’re a beginner, pregnant or have an injury, but can also be amplified if you’re advanced and looking for more of a challenge.
6. Increased flexibility. Through focused stretching, an improved range-of-motion is one of the greatest benefits of barre exercise. Sometimes people are flexible but not strong, or strong and not flexible, so whether you can sit comfortably in a pretzel position or you’re stiffer than a board, barre classes actually teach your body to be both. Having flexibility and strength allows you to enjoy a longer, active life free of injuries.
7. Never boring, always fun. You’ll find that the time spent in class passes very quickly due to the fast pace, variety of exercises, upbeat music, ever-changing choreography and inspiring instructors. It’s never the same class twice!
8. Lost weight and inches. Many of the workouts target the largest muscle groups in the body, like the thighs and glutes. The larger the muscle, the more calories burned! As you continue to attend class, you will build more lean muscle mass and raise your resting metabolic rate, which can help you to produce more energy and expend calories. Perhaps more important than actual weight loss, barre classes will help you drop a size by redistributing inches on your body – making you appear (and feel) longer and leaner. If you pair barre workouts with a healthy diet, you will achieve even better results.
9. Greater range of motion and endurance for all other activities and sports. Barre classes target the core muscle groups that are neglected in conventional strength training, in a variety of interesting ways.For example, skiers and snowboarders may notice enhanced knee alignment, improved balance and greater quad and hamstring recruitment. If you’re a golfer or tennis player, you just may experience greater hip openness and movement allowing for a better swing. Runners can attain increased endurance, faster PR times and reduced impact on joints.
10. Rapid results. Yes, you will be sore after the first few classes, but you’ll also see some major results in little time – so stick with it! If you perform a barre workout 2-4 times weekly, you will typically notice changes in as little as one month. Changes may include an improved posture, thinner thighs, chiseled arms, a sculpted back, flat abs and a lifted seat. Barre classes are incredibly effective at transforming so-called 'problem' areas, especially for women.
There’s a good reason why more and more people are trying out barre workouts, and you should give it a shot, too. Soon enough, your body will reflect all of your hard work. Are you ready for some serious body sculpting?