The love child of yoga, Pilates and ballet, barre as a form of fitness was invented by ex-ballerina Lotte Berk. After a back injury, Berk combined her barre routines with rehabilitation therapy to form the foundation of the exercise loved universally today.
Barre is beneficial for anybody looking to tone up and enjoy exercise — not just ballet dancers. Can't decide if it’s for you? Here I'm going to walk you through the top five barre workout benefits and what to expect when you start practising. First though, let’s explain in more detail exactly what it is.
WHAT IS A BARRE WORKOUT?
Modern day barre workouts combine classical ballet with stretches performed in pilates and yoga. It's low impact yet high intensity, making for a great aerobic workout that will burn fat and increase your metabolism. The exercises are done while holding onto a barre, a stationary railing used in ballet training; however, a table or chair will do the job if you're practising at home.
WHAT IS A BARRE WORKOUT GOOD FOR?
Here I will break down the top five barre benefits that will make a welcome addition to your lifestyle and workout routine.
Ballet dancers are known for their exquisite posture, which allows them to perform a wide range of technical movements with ease and grace. My Ballet Blast method is based on the premise of maintaining correct posture by strengthening the muscles in the chest and shoulders. After a barre session, you may discover that you're more naturally inclined to maintain an upright posture with less slouching.
You don’t need to be a yoga guru or incredibly lithe to enjoy the benefits of ballet barre. Its exercises are designed to increase your flexibility, which can also aid in improving balance. Barre uses tiny, highly controlled isometric motions, where the short, rapid contractions not only stimulate the muscles but also stretch them in a concentrated manner. This will leave you significantly stronger and more flexible than before.
BUILDS MUSCLE STRENGTH
In ballet barre, the barre itself or a chair is used for balance but mostly your own body weight is applied. And when you do use free weights, they are usually rather light. Nonetheless, that doesn't mean that you're not getting stronger — barre specialises in building certain muscles that are often underutilised in other forms of exercise, such as the smaller, stabilising lateral rotators and gluteus minimus.
Barre classes typically last between 45 and 60 minutes. Although your first few sessions may be difficult, the exercises are excellent for building muscular endurance because they emphasise the use of light weights and a high number of repetitions over a sustained period. You can definitely expect to see increased stamina once you start taking to the barre regularly, meaning you may be able to work out for longer and with more intensity.
IMPROVES BODY AWARENESS
Everyone knows that yoga can be great for mental health, and as a former ballerina, I’ve experienced similar benefits with barre in connecting the mind and body. With minute and purpose-driven motions, workouts can help you to build focus and new levels of awareness, sometimes not found in strength-training exercises.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR TO A BARRE CLASS?
Although you should wear whatever you are comfortable in to a barre class, it is advisable to opt for activity-appropriate clothing to help you get the most out of your workout.
Loose or restrictive clothing should be avoided. Instead, opt for something fitted but moveable, such as a supportive sports bra, simple tank top and high-waisted leggings. This will allow you to move easily but also give your instructor the opportunity to critique your form.
For footwear, you do not necessarily need to purchase ballet shoes, and a lot of people simply go barefoot. However if you do wear socks, make sure they have maximal grip to avoid slipping.
HOW LONG UNTIL YOU SEE RESULTS FROM BARRE?
It's common knowledge that significant physical changes take time, although the majority of barre enthusiasts agree that most individuals start to notice effects as early as three weeks. To achieve long-term results, though, you need to be patient, dedicated and consistent. Benefits will ultimately depend on the amount you practise, your current level of fitness and if you combine the exercises with a healthy, balanced diet.
If you want to try out ballet barre for yourself then make sure to check out my online workout studio and join a dedicated community focusing on building a stronger, healthier you.