A ballerina stretching at the barre

What is ballet barre fitness?

Are you looking for a physical activity that will both engage your superficial and deep muscles?? Or maybe you love to dance, and you want to learn a few ballet moves while still exercising? Then try ballet barre, you will fall in love with it. Whether you prefer a low-impact workout or a ‘high intensity’ one, ballet barre fitness can give it all to you. I started barre because I love ballet and it is inspired by ballet moves. Then, later on, I was able to take ballet classes taught by a professional ex-ballet dancer of the Bordeaux National Opera and Ballet Theater in France. I now even work in a famous ballet school. So, What is ballet barre fitness exactly? All of this, I will try to explain my best, so please keep reading below! 🙂

What is Ballet?

ballerina dancing snowflake in the nutcracker

Wikipedia: “Ballet is a type of performance dance that originated during the Italian Renaissance in the fifteenth century and later developed into a concert dance form in France and Russia. It has since become a widespread, highly technical form of dance with its own vocabulary based on French terminology.”

The term “ballet” is a French word that originated from the Italian “Balletto”, itself coming from Latin “ballo” and “ballare” which means “to dance”.

Ballet dancers are considered athletes because their training and ballet dance technique is intense, precise, and challenging.

The core technique includes:

  • proper alignment: working on keeping the head, shoulders, and hips vertically aligned.
  • turnouts: movements with legs rotating outwards and inwards.
  • extensions: movements with legs opening and extending.
  • clean footwork: working on pointing and flexing the foot to elongate and strengthen the muscles.
  • pulling up the core keeping the shoulders down to ensure proper posture and balance.
  • graceful movements of the arms (port de bras).

Why ‘Barre’?

A stretched leg at the barreA barre workout is a set of exercises inspired by ballet moves as well as a mix of Pilates and Yoga stretching techniques. “Barre” refers to the horizontal bar tool used by ballet dancers to rest a hand for support for training. It is a French word. (All the ballet terms are in French since the middle ages.). During a Barre workout, you use the barre to stretch and find your balance as in a ballet class. You also use small weights, mini-balls, and stretch bands to elongate and strengthen your entire body. It blends stretching, cardio, core strengthening as well as balance for good posture targeting the hips, abs, glutes, and arms. A part of the technique is to fatigue targeted muscles such as the inner thighs by staying for a few minutes in the same static position and doing little pulses. You learn to use your own bodyweight for resistance to target the thighs and seat muscles. You also use your own bodyweight to target your abs when doing plank exercises done like-wise in Pilates.

‘Barre au sol’ translated ‘floor barre’

Boris Kniaseff, a French dancer and master of Ballet with Russian origins, invented the “Barre au sol” in 1937. When creating his ballet school in Switzerland, he had a problem: the building was classified as ‘historic’. He couldn’t fix barres on the walls. He thought then about a solution for his students to be able to stretch and warm-up without using barres; he had the idea to come up with a series of adapted exercises that could be done on the floor; sitting, lying down, and crawling.

The benefit of this technique is that you are freed from your body weight and gravity. You can really focus on what you feel when working on a particular part of your body, not worrying about keeping your balance. Everybody can do this technique safely. It also helps dancers recover from injuries.

You work on your posture, flexibility, and toning but you are able to focus more efficiently on your breathing technique and you feel relaxed. It is a low-impact ballet-inspired workout. You awaken senses not felt when you work standing up.

Read here the related article “What is floor barre fitness? Its awesome benefits!”

What is fitness?

Fitness is “the condition of being physically fit and healthy”. So a fitness workout is a series of body exercises put together in order to maintain physical health and overall wellness. Physical fitness can be achieved through proper nutrition, body activity, and plenty of rest. However, keep in mind that being fit, not only means physically but also emotionally and mentally. There are different types of physical fitness activities or sports. Here we are focusing on Barre fitness which includes other types of fitness exercises such as Pilates, Yoga, and ballet technique.

Read related article: “Why are compound exercises so important?”

What is cardio?

Cardiovascular exercise is any bodily activity that raises your heart rate and gets your blood pumping. Any exercise, even the moderate ones can be considered as cardio exercises as long as the physical effort is done for an extended period which will raise your heartbeat. However, if your goal is to lose some weight, intense cardio moves will help you reach your goal more rapidly. In fact, the faster your heart beats, the more calories you burn! Your heart needs fuel to get beating faster. Apart from keeping a healthy weight, cardio is very important because it improves your endurance and keeps you more energized. You will be able to go up those stairs without losing your breath!

What is ballet barre fitness?

It is a mix of fitness movements, classic ballet moves, and cardio exercises to strengthen, elongate, tone, and get more flexible. For example, a workout has some pliés, dégagés, and jetés for cardio followed by some demi-pliés and arm movements as well as some barre au sol for toning the abs and glutes, ending with some stretching.

Read related article: “How to get more flexible? Best 6 tips!”

Once you get familiar with the exercises and moves, you can decide whether you want extra cardio in your routine and which exercises are more suitable for you. You can workout from the comfort of your own home at your own pace. Most of all, you get a total physical fitness training by getting your heart rate up and targeting both the superficial and deep muscles.

Read here the related article “why is barre fitness so good for men?”

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  1. This seems like a fun way to workout. It would feel very feminine and graceful.
    And I think it would make my body more lean looking, than say weight lifting.

  2. riverdogg says:

    Hey, I just wanted to say good post on what is ballet barre fitness, I didn’t know before reading about it here. My father’s aunt was a ballerina in a ballet down south, around Atlanta, Georgia I think if I recall correctly. She also did performance art and a little stage theatre acting now and then. I’m not sure ballet would work for me as a guy, or would it? But I am thinking of mixing some sort of dance routine into my weekly fitness rotation. I am always looking for ways to diversify my routine and make it more fun with variation. Have a great weekend.

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Of course Barre fitness would be good for you! You should try it! Thanks!

  3. Christine says:

    I certainly agree that ballet dancers are considered athletes! The dancing techniques are indeed challenging, precise, and intense. Although I do not dance ballet, several of my students and ex-students do. One of them is now in New York and he is doing amazingly well! I can see him going far!

    In order to do ballet barre exercises, I am expected to have some basic knowledge and practice, don’t I? Is it possible to exercise with simple ballet moves that may be beneficial for overall fitness?

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Barre fitness teaches you simple moves so you don’t need to know some basics. You just follow along like in any sports! You should try it. It is a very effective workout plan.

  4. You are so right about flexibility as one of barre workout benefits, it worked great when we tried!

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Definitely! Thank you!

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