One of the hottest trends in fitness is barre, a workout designed to create long, lean muscle mass much like that of a ballet dancer. Barre studios are opening up across the country and multi-purpose gyms are installing ballet bars so they can host barre classes at their facility and stay on trend. (And for those of you who were curious, it is not advised to hit the bar after the barre.)
Barre workouts combine a bit of dance, pilates, and yoga. Though all programs vary a little, barre exercises tend to rely on one’s body weight for resistance. Some classes may incorporate more cardio than others. It is important to note that barre is great for sculpting the body, but those seeking optimal weight loss will want to combine barre classes with cardio (to increase your heart rate) and a healthy diet. Though I was never a dancer, after doing semi-private pilates classes for a couple of years I decided to give barre a try and was truly amazed at the intensity of a barre workout. A new studio just opened near my home and I am ready to take that barre by storm. Here are 10 reasons why you too might consider giving barre class a try:
10 Reasons to Give Barre Class a Try 1 of 11
You do not have to be a ballerina. 2 of 11
While barre will help you become more graceful, you certainly do not need to have dance experience to begin. (I didn't.) Barre workouts can be done regardless of your body type, fitness level, dance experience and age. The poses and stretches are done in a way that will help you burn fat while protecting your joints. Your instructor should show the class how to modify poses as well as how to make them more difficult.
Can be practiced at home. 3 of 11
Some of the classes and studios are pricey, but barre can really be practiced anywhere. No, you do not need to have a ballet bar at home. All you need is a high-backed chair, a sturdy towel bar, or a counter top to get started. There are a variety of DVD's available, or you can find a workout to follow on youtube. There are even apps available that will guide you through a barre routine.
No need to get fancy. 4 of 11
Since I started doing lots of spin classes I invested in a pair of spin shoes and my own seat cushion. With barre there are no tutus or ballet shoes required. (Whew!) Comfortable clothes that allow you to move freely are helpful and some people prefer to wear socks with grips on the bottom for support. Some classes will use a ball, light hand weights, stretch bands, or yoga straps but these tools are not necessary for a barre workout done at home.
Engages the core. 5 of 11
The basis of a barre workout is about engaging the core by keeping those muscles contracted for minutes at a time, which builds muscle density and strength in each of the body's major muscle groups. So if you are bored of doing your 679,000th sit-up in pursuit of better abs, consider giving barre a try.
Lengthens the muscles. 6 of 11
Once the core is engaged, a barre workout can focus on body parts women often have difficulty with such as the butt, hips, abs, and arms. The deep stretches and postures will help you to tone and sculpt the entire body.
Improves your posture. 7 of 11
When the core muscles are engaged, lengthened, and stabilized, it will naturally help to improve posture. The poses also require strong posture, with your shoulders back and your spine is aligned properly. Barre can be particularly helpful for postpartum women who hope to correct their posture after leaning forwards from the weight of carrying a baby.
Improves your balance. 8 of 11
The ballet barre is there to help you maintain balance, though you will find when your core is engaged and your posture is correct, your stability and balance should be naturally improved. The deep stretches and poses challenge your stability and balance, so the more consistently you take classes the more you will see improvement in these areas.
Improves your flexibility. 9 of 11
This is where the piece of a barre workout which comes from yoga is helpful. As your core gets stronger and your balance improves, your body's ability to stretch will develop too, thus increasing your overall flexibility.
Helps you become more graceful. 10 of 11
As you become stronger, more stable and more flexible, you will also become more graceful. The beauty of barre workouts is that they allow you to build up your muscles without bulking them up, so you can have better fluidity in your movements.
Brings back memories of childhood. 11 of 11
Though you will be getting a terrific workout, barre classes will bring back memories for those who did take dance as a child or may fill a dream for those who have never taken a dance class. So if you really do want to wear that tutu, go right ahead. Whoever said that nostalgia isn't motivating?
Have you done a barre workout yet?
Please note that this post is intended to share information and ideas, as well as to create conversation. Please consult a medical professional before making changes to your lifestyle.
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