Wondering whether a barre workout is for you? It is surely worth getting some attention! Barre actually combines 3 forms of workouts in one: ballet-inspired exercises, yoga stretching, and pilates strength training. That’s pretty solid!
No need to be a ballet dancer to benefit from a workout at the barre. You don’t even need a “barre” at all. You can practice barre at home using a chair as your support instead. Or if you prefer you can go to a barre fitness studio.
As a low-impact workout, barre is great for anyone at any age, desiring to stay fit, get stronger, be flexible, and much more.
Read on to learn more about the 12 great reasons why you should consider adding ballet barre to your workout routine!
What is a barre workout?
A barre workout is this super-effective fitness training that tones, and strengthens your arms, core, glutes, thighs, and calves. It is like a “3-D” workout that blends classical ballet exercises, pilates, and yoga moves, offering you complete body conditioning.
“Barre” refers to the ballet horizontal bar prop at waist level on which ballet dancers rest a hand to stretch, warm up, and rehearse their dance moves. It is also useful to learn proper balance and posture. In ballet class, dancers first train at the barre and then move on to practice their super technical complex dance movements at the center (without the help of the barre).
12 AWESOME BENEFITS OF A BARRE WORKOUT
Overall physical benefits
- A full-body workout
A barre workout targets every muscle group in your body, strengthening your hips, arms, and legs while constantly engaging your core. No need to lift heavyweights. You mainly use your own body weight, stability balls, and resistance bands to enhance the overall workout experience.
What makes barre unique are the small isometric strength exercises (holding still and contracting a precise set of muscles without expanding them). When you move through small ranges of motion and hold still, you work the deeper muscles of your body that are often missed. You feel the burn and you start shaking!
- Get stronger glutes
That’s right, a toned bum is always most welcome but there’s much more to it than the looks of a firm peach… In fact, working on your buttocks also targets all the muscles that stabilize your pelvic floor, easing the pressure on your back, hips, and knees!
- Low-impact workout
A barre workout is considered low-impact because it is more of a static exercise. There are fewer jumps, leaps, or pounding which makes it gentler on your joints and reduces the risk of injury.
- Increase your endurance
The more endurance you have, the greater your ability to keep a high level of activity in your daily life. Barre increases both your muscular endurance and stamina. That simply means that working out regularly grows your capacity to exercise longer and harder.
More than that, endurance activity impacts your breathing and heartbeat. It helps reduce the risk of developing health conditions like strokes, heart disease, diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer.
- Good sweat guaranteed
While there are tons of isolated and slow movements like isometric holds in barre, you also get a nice dose of cardio. In fact, there are lots of big full range motion exercises like “grand battements” (large lifting of the leg to hip level) and “grand pliés” (large plié squats), and so forth. Your heart rate really increases.
Plus, some barre formats like HIIT cardio barre, integrate challenging high intensity dynamic moves like jumps.
Strong core benefits
- Improve your posture
Barre practice is excellent to prevent you from slouching and fix the forward head posture. The extra focus on engaging your core and maintaining proper alignment from head to toe strengthens the backside muscles of your body that support proper posture. While you open up your chest, you find yourself standing up a little straighter.
Read the related article “16 Good Posture benefits that are so important!”
- Get more flexible
Barre workouts have a lot of stretching in between strengthening exercises. The activity puts a big emphasis on lengthening your muscles. Great! Stretches increase the range of motion in your joints, thus your flexibility. No worries, you don’t need to be as flexible as a dancer to be able to stretch at the barre. The movements are easy to adjust for all levels.
- Improve your balance
Ballet-inspired movements mix a lot of pointed toe and one-legged exercises which over time lead to greater stability and balance.
- Increase your bone density
All fitness workouts in general help you maintain or increase your bone thickness which is so crucial to preventing osteoporosis that causes bone weakness and breakage.
- Sharpen your mind
Barre workouts improve your mental focus because holding each position with proper body alignment demands extra mind-body connection to stay engaged. Barre is a mental challenge but you ultimately become more aware of your body and develop a deeper level of mindfulness.
- Optimize your muscle coordination
In a barre workout, you train your mind to control your muscles more harmoniously. You have good coordination when you are able to use different parts of your body together evenly and correctly.
- Reduce stress
Exercise both releases endorphins that keep your mind alert and dopamine, the feel-good hormone that reduces your level of stress. Barre is like a type of quiet introspection that sits somewhere in between yoga, pilates, and HIIT workouts. While your brain has to remain intensely focused on each small rep, you end up feeling calm and restored.
What to expect from a barre class?
You don’t have to be flexible to give it a try. A barre class can last up to 60 minutes.
Most workouts are performed at a slower pace with a warm-up, exercises at the barre, some floor work, and some cooling down with stretches.
You will most likely use a small ball, a resistance band, and hand weights to enhance the workout.
In an actual ballet barre fitness class, the barre helps you stabilize yourself so that you can really focus on doing those small muscular exercises like “plié” holds and “relevés” effectively. Expect your muscles to shake a lot!
Read here the related article “why do muscles shake during a workout? Is it a good thing?”
Though barre workouts borrow arm movements, foot/leg positions, and French terminology from ballet, you don’t learn how to dance.
Instead of doing pirouettes and dance leaps, you strengthen your entire body while mainly standing still unless your class has some Zumba and aerobics for a greater cardio boost.
Is Barre good for losing weight and belly fat?
It is the amount of time I exercise each week and my entire lifestyle that help me control my weight. Barre workouts do contribute to achieving my overall weekly activity goals.
If you aim at shedding pounds, adding barre exercises to your weight loss plan is surely effective only if you look at your entire living habits and include eating a nutritious and balanced diet.
Also, for an optimum workout program, make sure to have a combination of cardio and strength training exercises, keeping in mind that you need more cardio each week to affect your metabolism.
Ballet-inspired workouts surely help tone and develop your stomach muscles because you intensely focus on engaging your core.
One of the main criticism regarding barre workouts is that it is more of a strength training than cardio and that it mainly targets the lower body. That is simply not true! Believe me, grand battements and sauté jumps are challenging moves that make your heartbeat go way up!
Plus, there are now plenty of different barre workout formats to suit your likes and needs. For instance, some barre classes also incorporate Zumba and aerobics exercises to serve as cardio.
Can you do barre fitness at home?
Definitely! You can even do barre workouts anywhere. To feel as if you are in the studio, you can purchase equipment like a ballet barre, yoga mat, small weights, and resistance bands. However, you can use the support of a sturdy chair as a substitute for the barre, a blanket instead of a mat, and water bottles as weights. Besides, you can do each move without those props anyway.
What to wear for your barre workout?
You don’t need to wear a leotard, just comfortable clothing like leggings and fitted tops. When you work out in the studio, form-fitting clothes help your teacher see if you do the exercises properly. In this way, he or she can correct your form when it’s necessary so that your back is protected.
I like to work out barefoot at home but in the studio, it will be advised to wear socks that have grips on the bottom to protect you from slipping.
Who should do barre?
Ballet barre is an excellent workout for anyone because it is both low-impact and high-intensity. It can be modified for all fitness levels.
If you are recovering from a knee, ankle, or hip injury, you can do floor barre which is barre fitness done on the floor. Exercises on the mat put less stress on your joints.
Ballet moves like pliés, relevés are not just graceful, they also elongate and strengthen your muscles and you burn calories.
A barre workout blends the best of the best: flexibility, balance, core, cardio, and strength training in a complete body workout.
Have you done any barre yet? Please leave your comments and questions below.
Medical disclosure: The Fit Yourself Barre content is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of a physician. You should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.
Read the related article “Ballet Plié Squats awesome benefits: be happy to squat!”
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