Are you injured or have bad knees? If you are looking for a workout routine that will not compromise your joints or you simply wish to get back in shape safely, then floor barre is the perfect workout for you. But not only. It is beneficial for everyone and here are the reasons why.
What is floor barre?
As its name mentions it, “floor barre” is a barre fitness workout done on the floor. If you read my article “what is ballet barre fitness?”, you discover that it is inspired by ballet. It is a mix of Pilates, yoga, strength training and ballet moves. Like Barre fitness, I found it very interesting that this technique emerged not a very long time ago (in the 1950s). I mention this because “ballet floor“ which is basically a ballet workout on the floor, is very beneficial to dancers to perfect their technique. Therefore, I would have thought it already existed since the beginning of ballet. At least since the 17th century when ballet technique started to get more and more complex?!
It’s in 1953 that Boris Kniaseff, a French dancer and master of ballet with Russian origins, founded the “barre au sol” (French for floor barre) method. He had a problem: he couldn’t fix barres on the walls of the building he purchased to start his ballet school in Switzerland. It was classified as “historic”. He came up with the idea to put together a series of adapted ballet moves that could be performed on the floor.
Very soon after, in the 1960s, others started to develop their own certified technique. The Zena Rommett floor barre and The Maria Fay technique. These methods were tailored mainly for dancers. Throughout the years the technique evolved and became very popular in the fitness world in general. Today, Pilates, yoga and strength training associated with basic ballet moves, makes floor barre conditionning a complete body workout of its own.
Isometrics: strengthen key muscles
Working out on the floor forces you to target muscles you’re supposed to develop. You are not distracted by having to hold a barre, keeping your balance or exhausting yourself jumping around.
In a floor barre workout, you build toned lean muscles when doing isometric exercises. The focus remains only on muscles you are working on by tightening them using equal forces against each other. It is called isometric muscle movement. Holding a pose such as a plank is an isometric exercise which involves the static contraction of muscles while there is no movement of the joints. Yoga poses are isometric exercises. Such isometric holds increase the ability to sustain a position for a specific amount of time. In ballet, dancers often have to hold still in certain positions like in an arabesque or attitude. Isometric exercises target these key muscles to maintain such positions.
You may not realize how effective isometrics are because you are not breaking a big sweat but tensing up your muscles really builds both physical and mental endurance.
Isometric exercises can help you:
- lose weight and take off a few inches from your waist.
- build serious overall strength.
- decrease high blood pressure.
And all this without moving at all!
Corrects your posture
Lying on the floor and sitting down force you to correct your alignment and perform the exercises properly. It compels you to accurately position yourself to the lining of the floor. It makes it impossible to do the steps incorrectly. Proper alignment in ballet is very important and ballet floor barre exercises help dancers find their positions, better their natural turnouts and improve their flexibility.
Relieves stress on joints
Low impact exercises cause less strain on your knees, hips and ankle joints. Since you don’t have to press into the floor, it relieves the tension off your joints. You are unlikely going to hurt your ankles or knee joints while performing exercises on the ground. Floor barre exercises are the safest when you are injured or suffering from a bad hip or weak knees. You can fully extend your legs without hurting your joints. You don’t have to worry about popping your knee out or breaking your ankle! It is also a perfect alternative for gently getting back in shape after long breaks or injuries.
Increases your flexibility
Stretches are also part of a floor barre workout routine. Stretching makes you more flexible, improves your mobility and increases your range of motion. As we age, our muscles can get stiff so it is essential to stretch our entire body to be able to move easily!
Strengthens the core
As mentioned earlier, laying on your back constrains you to maintain a good posture therefore your center of balance is placed as it should be. It enables you to give extra attention to your core muscles and legs. It is a great way to maintain core, hip and foot control without carrying your whole body weight.
Stretches your brain: coordination
Ballet floor barre really makes you train your brain and thus develops coordination. Your brain has to send different instructions to separate body parts. You learn how to coordinate the movements of the arms with those of your legs. For instance, it demands a lot of concentration when having to move your arm “inward” while your leg performs an “outward” movement.
I love exercising on the floor because, freed from my body weight, it awakens senses that I don’t feel when I workout standing up! I can really focus on my breathing and I feel more relaxed while still toning up my whole body and getting more flexible.
However, floor barre can get very challenging especially when doing isometric exercises. Breathing deeply is very important to efficiently oxygen the muscles.
If you have any questions or thoughts on the subject, please leave your comments below. I will be very happy to help in anyway!