Barre has made a name for itself in the past few years with promises to sculpt one’s body like a dancer or a yogi. By borrowing elements from different disciples, barre is a workout that is easy on the joints, uses minimal equipment and delivers the ideal class for those looking for an overall body workout.
What is barre?
Barre is a fusion of ballet, yoga and pilates. It emulates movements found in these classes to create the low-impact, high-intensity workout that is barre. Expect isometric movements, dynamic stretching and lots of conditioning, particularly with your core and lower body. Some classes may also involve the use of accessories such as an exercise ball, resistance bands, some weights, and of course, a bar.
How barre workouts impact the body
We all know that dancers and yogis have enviable flexibility. They have incredible range of motion with the ability to move their body’s in ways we can only dream of. But if you attend regular barre classes, it can definitely help get you there.
Barre involves a lot of stretching and elongation of the body, both of the static and dynamic kind, which combined. This will increase your flexibility and get you that much closer to gaining those enviable dancer’s or yogi’s range of motion.
While dancer’s flexibility is something commonly sought after, one thing that they have that is more overlooked is strength. They are incredibly strong, with the ability to hold their bodies in uncomfortable positions for periods of time.
Barre may not feature barbells or heavy weights that most people associate with strength. While some classes may incorporate the use of resistance bands, exercise balls and light weights, the strength that you’ll build will revolve around strengthening a muscle group as opposed to building muscle.
There is a big focus on using your own bodyweight as resistance. Barre typically uses isometric movements, in which you hold a position and move up and down in small increments, like a pulse. This gives you a burn like no other and while these movements are small, don’t be fooled, it will be challenging.
So, you will grow muscle and become stronger but don’t expect muscle growth like you’d do at the gym if you were lifting heavy weights.
If you’re someone who finds it difficult to stand on one leg without falling over, then you’ll be pleased to hear that barre will help you find your center of gravity. A lot of barre will require you to find your balance in class, which you can then bring to your everyday life.
A big part of this will come from the focus on core work, which is a big component of barre. As your core is what keeps you stable, by working on this regularly during class, you’ll be better coordinated and balanced.
Barre ensures that you have proper alignment from your head to toes. It really works on your mind-body connection, bringing more awareness to your body. You may find yourself slumping less, sitting and standing up straighter and just having better posture overall.
How to prepare for barre
A great thing about barre is that it’s accessible for anyone. Whether you’re a total beginner or a seasoned veteran, barre can be tailored to suit your fitness level.
To better prepare for your barre class, wear comfortable clothing such as leggings or a tshirt. Anything that allows you to move easily will be ideal. Some classes may allow you to go barefoot but for those who require socks, wear a pair that has grip underneath.
These safety, non-slip socks will ensure your feet grip the surface and floor, so you can maintain your balance.
The reason why barre workouts are so popular nowadays, is because it completely tones and builds upon strength, coordination and flexibility in a low-impact way. It’s ideal for everyone— whether you’re a total beginner or have existing injuries. But don’t be fooled, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy. It’ll challenge you, help you work up a sweat and leave you feeling better than when you walked in.