So what is Barre Class?
Barre Class uses a variety of graceful movement patterns inspired by resistance training, pilates, dance, and yoga. Each class, set to motivating music, works the upper body, the lower body, and the core, and incorporates stretching throughout the workout. Get ready to connect to every part of your body and leave class feeling invigorated, challenged, and inspired. The moves are often both therapeutic and strengthening for your body. We will use the ballet bar, light weights (3-5 lbs), and small pilates balls as exercise tools thus making the workout accessible to beginners through advanced. All levels are welcome – you will be challenged!
What makes Barre different from other exercise classes?
Barre uses mostly your own body weight and very light resistance tools to work the body so it is a very safe form of exercise. We also incorporate deep stretches all through the workout to maintain the length and flexibility of the muscles. Being a yoga teacher, I also incorporate a lot of yoga inspired exercises too.
What is the format of a Barre class?
The class has music between 120-140 beats per minutes (bpm) and begins with a dynamic warm up the moves the entire body. As the class progresses, we work arms, legs, and core. Many of the exercises incorporate the entire body. We use the ballet barre for many exercises in a variety of ways – sometimes for balance, sometimes we hang from the barre. For weighted work, we use 3 pounds and but we have a brave soul or two who will use 5 pounds. Often we work the muscle to exhaustion and you are welcome to stop and join back in. Exercises are typically shown in two formats, with the first being an easier form of the exercise and the second being a more difficult form. Feel free to stay with the first format.
I have problems with back/knees/shoulders. Can I do barre?
You should always get clearance from your doctor before you begin an exercise program especially for specific issues. But let the instructor know before class what issues you have and alternatives. Props can be used to help you perform the exercise safely. You should never feel pain in your joints and if you do you want to stop the exercise or do it in a way that there is no pain. For example when doing an exercises where the knee bends, stop the bend before the knee is in pain. This may mean not going as deep as others in the class but you still get plenty of benefit from the exercise.
Is Barre like a yoga class?
Barre has a lot of flexibility work like yoga and lots of rhythmic movement like a vinyasa yoga class, but the class is unique in the movements taught – dance, pilates, and yoga-inspired. The class lasts an hour which is typically shorter than most yoga classes. We do always end with a deep relaxing restorative stretch. Like yoga, your whole body will feel invigorated and the grace of the movements make this a mind body class. You will also learn a lot about the anatomy of your own body as we target small muscle groups as well as large ones.
But I thought working out with light weights doesn’t do much for you? Don’t you have to use heavy weights?
I’m an advocate of working out with heavy weights. I’m a kettlebell teacher and a yoga teacher and I work out at CrossFit. I’m also a marathoner runner. I believe that many forms of movement make a person healthy. Many years ago, I watched barre classes from afar and while I thought the dance aspect looked fun I didn’t think they were intense enough. Hah- then I took my first barre class and was so sore (and I lift heavy!). As I became a fan of the classes and started teaching, I noticed many of my students who were unable to work heavy for a variety of reasons, could do barre class and they were able to stay very fit with this type of work. On top of all of that, it’s fun! So I say, don’t ditch the heavy weights, but if this is all you can do, it’s great!
I’m an old timer and this class looks eerily similar to the old Jane Fonda leg warmer workouts – could that be true?
In fitness, what is old becomes new again! There is an element of truth – some of the exercises are from the pre-aerobic craze days which originated in the dance world. However, there is a lot more science and training in today’s barre classes, as well as a whole lot of anatomy knowledge. Instructors that you see today have so much more education because it is required by consumers.
What can we expect in the future?
I’m going to bring in stretch bands to work with as well as rings and also foam rollers and pinky balls for myofascial release at the end of class. Stay tuned – there is a lot coming!