One day I stumbled into a barre class at my gym, I had no idea what I was getting myself into or what barre even was. There was a class, and I felt like changing it up from my normal routine. It was the hardest thing I had ever attempted, and the instructor didn't explain anything or help with ensuring we were in proper form, or make any of us aware of modifications, knowing two of us out of the six in class were brand new and had never tried barre. I never went back. I continued for some time with my routine, and really longed for a place that felt like a community to work out. So, fast forward just over a year from my first un-barreable barre experience, I signed up on a whim at a studio near my house for a free trial class. Something magical happened, I met the most amazing woman with an energy so strong you couldn't help but push yourself, stay motivated, and want more. Here I am 7 months after my first class at this studio, attending several days a week, fitter, stronger, and feeling as though I belong to something bigger - a community of women from all walks of life who connect at the barre.
So, what is a barre workout anyways? so many people have asked me this. Barre is workout program that consists of a mixture of ballet-inspired exercises, yoga and pilates, done both on the mat and at the barre. Barre is accepting of all body types, it doesn't discriminate against age, gender, sexuality, and it's accepting of all fitness levels and all fitness abilities. It's intense, it's effective, and I am proof that no dance experience as needed. True story, I hated ballet as a kid, it was too slow, too clean, and didn't give me the adrenaline rush I got from my competitive sports. Barre utilizes a person's body weight for resistance and focuses on small, deliberate movements which focus on very specific muscle groups. Generally these muscles aren't targeted or fully utilized during other workouts. Muscles are utilized and worked to the point of fatigue during class, then followed up with a series of stretches for relief. If you find a great studio or instructor - in my case I found both, proper form, posture, and body alignment and movement is highly stressed in order to prevent injury and help you get the most out of your barre experience.
You are strengthening your core, focused on breathing, form, and tiny movements in order to sculpt a leaner, toned body, during this intense workout that increases cardiovascular endurance along with your body’s metabolism to burn fat.
Workouts are generally 50-60 minutes. Your stamina increases Increased by allowing very little rest between activities so muscles stay engaged. Minimal equipment is needed, a wall-mounted barre or freestanding barre and mat are all that's needed, often times resistance bands, 2-3lb weights, and exercise balls may be utilized, and are usually provided by the studio for use during class. You will need your water during barre class for sure!
Barre offers so many benefits, from the fun high-energy workout, fun music, and choreographed moves, it's easy to become hooked. When something is enjoyable you tend to become more engaged and stick to the routine - you are more likely to keep showing up. You may find that you notice results more quickly than you have from other workouts. Barre helps tone and strengthen your muscles without increasing bulk. It can help your posture, which can help with back pain and sleep. It also increases your metabolism and overall cardiovascular endurance allowing your body to burn calories quickly. Barre workouts may also help decrease the risk of, or prevent osteoporosis as it can increase your bone density. Due to the small, isometric muscle movements used in barre you are able to build muscle strength without putting strain on ligaments and tendons like in other fitness and training methods. Similar to both pilates and yoga, there is a mindfulness component to barre. It increases mind-body awareness and strengths the connection, bring greater mental clarity. This method requires concentration and focus in order to get the most out of the workout and perform the small, precise, and intentional, small movements.
Being able to allow your mind to focus, concentrate, and remain aware of thoughts that may come into your mind during your workout, while also pushing them to the side, at least until the hour is up. By obtaining a state of mindfulness, quieting your mind during the workout, focusing on your breath, and technique can bring on a feeling of relaxation, decreasing stress levels and anxiety. The endorphins released during any type of physical activity increases your general sense of well-being. I honestly believe that barre is something that anyone can do, no matter their athletic ability or fitness level. If you are looking to build core strength, tighten, tone, and improve your posture, barre is for you. This workout is appropriate for anyone seeking an intense yet low-impact workout that will offer quick results., while working out their overall body during each workout. You will most likely feel your workout, you will be sore, but you will also notice yourself building strength, this is due to the focus on small, isolated groups of muscles.
Just to recap, you will find yourself feeling more fit, and accomplished upon each class end. You will notice better posture, leading to less back pain. Your stomach and back muscles will surely reap the benefits, you may even notice your butt change due to barre strengthening the glutes. You will start to notice more definition, perhaps an increase in your flexibility, and your overall health and wellbeing, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.