While you and your friends may be well-schooled on all things “bar,” we’re talking about a very different “barre” here. This is a workout that will whip you into shape better than any Happy Hour gin and tonic might!
Barre classes are derived from ballet and the barre these dancers use in their studios to train and practice. The genius of this workout is that all fitness levels can indulge because no special skills are required. Anyone—no matter their age, size, or fitness level—can take this class and get results.
Turn that music up a notch, grab hold of a barre, and let the workout begin!
How’d This Fitness Craze Come to Be?
It all started with the ingenuity of a ballerina, of course! German dancer, Lotte Berk, came up with the idea to combine her dance conditioning with her rehab exercises after a back injury. Berk opened her first studio in 1959, but the trend has really caught on in the last decade or so.
The exercise has evolved from the type of class only lean dancers would enroll into a workout that avid gym-goers have sought out to add some variety to their fitness routines. Today, you’ll find studios all across the country, that offer a range of classes beyond classic barre (Cardio Barre, Barre3, and more).
What Do You Do?
The basic equipment (um, a ballet barre, people) and many of the moves are based on classic ballet positions, but, it has transformed into an overall body workout that leaves you more limber, stronger—and sweating!
While there are variations we mentioned above, most classes are structured the same way: You begin with a warm-up of sorts where there is stretching, some push-ups and planks. Next you will do some work on your arms, and then you hit the barre! The barre is used for balance, and you will concentrate on your lower body, working your glutes and thighs and really stretching your muscles out for an overall body workout.
Typically, you’ll use your own body weight, but those who have been training on the barre longer may uses light free weights or resistance bands to up the ante on their results. The isometric movements of an inch or two at a time will make you shake from minimal, sustained movements because you will really feel the burn.
Does Barre Really Work?
Many claim a sound mind-body connection after participating in barre classes. We also think that anything that breaks up the monotony of a stale gym routine and gets you moving is a good thing! So, we embrace the barre (and the bar, but that’s another story!).
The benefits range from increased muscle definition and weight loss to increased flexibility and stability, as well as stress reduction (mind-body connection). Because this exercise works muscles in tandem, participants will see toning and sculpting results from head to toe. Your heart rate will also rise and fall, so while it’s not cardio-specific, these are benefits as well.
You won’t bulk up with this exercise since you are using your own body weight (or very light weights once you’ve gotten the hang of it), but you can achieve leaner stronger muscles—not bigger, bulkier ones!