There is a misconception that comes when you hear the word: "barre." Possibly some think that barre is scary and fear treading into the territory of a barre class, or possibly some expect it to be too easy. The truth is - barre is a challenging yet fun and rewarding workout that has been around since the late 1950's. In understanding exactly what a barre class is, it combines elements of ballet, yoga, and Pilates to create a workout that combines flexibility training with strength. Workouts generally take place on the "barre," which is used for balance, while isometric strength training exercises take place in high reps. You may occasionally use weights or resistance bands, but aren't typically needed. If you are considering taking a barre class, here is everything you need to know.
Barre as been known to provide you with multiple physical health benefits all catered to sculpt the body and clear the mind. While most believe that barre will guarantee a "ballet body," it can do so much more.
- The Movement: The Isometric Movements and Contractions that make up the bulk of most barre classes have proven to provide your body multiple movements that can help maintain muscle mass. According to Dr. Edward Laskowski, a certified member of the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, isometric movements have been proven to enhance stabilization of the muscles being used. They also will not strain the joints or muscles as easily as compared to more traditional strength training.
- You Are Working Multiple Muscle Groups At Once: Within the workout, you are training and stretching multiple muscle groups at once. Within most movements, you are targeting your quads, but at the same time, you’re also challenging the calves, hamstrings, glutes, abs, and upper-back muscles all to ensure an amazing workout.
- Improve Your Mind and Body: During smaller movements within the routine, you are activating frequently underused muscles, while connecting mind-and-body.
While barre does incorporate ballet into the workout routine, you do not need to be a dancer or have an experience in dance to take and accomplish a class. In most scenarios (and in many that I have taken), you usually begin your workout like most workout classes - a warm-up that centers around planks and push-ups, usually a quick arm routine, followed by work on the barre that focuses on tightening the glutes and thighs. Generally speaking, you may also finish the class focusing on a series of core-based moves on the barre.
As for gear, most workouts rely on body weight and often do not need extra gear. But it isn't unusual for some classes to use weights or resistance bands to work out your arm and leg routines.
There Are Downsides
While there are some incredible benefits to a barre workout and class, there are a few downsides that need to be addressed. Barre workouts affect everyone's body different, so different results are going to be seen throughout different individuals. Do not expect to drop 100 pounds because the person next to you did. Here are a few things that we have found:
- You May Not Gain Functional Strength: Most barre classes do not build there classes based on compound muscle movement exercises, so movements such as squats, lunges, and bend-overs aren't seen so frequently. These workouts and exercises provide you with functional strength that are needed to carry out daily tasks such as walking up the stairs.
- You Will Not Be Challenging Your Heart Enough: Functional strength and compound muscle movements help aid in increasing heart rate that can help burn off fat quicker. Since barre typically focuses on isometric movements, you aren't pushing your heart as harder as you would with these movements. Barre isn't going to be a stand alone workout to improve cardiovascular health.
As we said, barre isn't a stand alone workout that can help improve in cardiovascular health, but it can be a fun addition to your workout routine. The idea of barre is to help sculpt muscles and improve in flexibility, mind-and-body connection, and stabilization. While we don't suggest taking the class every day, we do suggest incorporating a class one or twice a week to ensure you will benefit from the results!