A barre is the stationary handrail that runs along the walls of a workout room. It provides stabilization and support for people doing certain types of exercise. Barres are used primarily in ballet training and warm-up exercises.
Over the past several years, barre workouts, not associated with any form of dancing, have become very popular. The first barre studio appears to have been The Bar Method™. The Bar Method grew out of the 1970s Lotte Berk Method because the founders of The Bar Method brought Lotte Berk to Connecticut in 1991. In the mid-1990s they noticed that their clients’ knees, backs and shoulders were being negatively affected. They began to incorporate the Bar Method into Lotte Berk with the help of a physical therapist. There are now 75 Bar Method locations. Since the growth in popularity in the past several years, many other spin-off companies have opened studios specializing in barre techniques.
Why are they so popular? Here are some facts:
- While barre classes can be very challenging, all ability levels can participate and benefit.
- Results are seen quickly, and the exercises are particularly beneficial for women’s bodies.
- They are not substitutes for either strength training or aerobic workouts.
- They are great for toning, core strength, posture, endurance, balance, increased flexibility and some lower body sculpting.
- If you already do Pilates, you will enjoy a barre class and not be overly challenged.
- The classes usually have upbeat music, use light free weights and sometimes a 10” ball.
- You will use a few easy ballet positions, and hold onto the barre on the wall for stabilization.
- Classes vary in length but most are between 45 – 60 minutes.
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There are currently barre exercise studios in many locations. In addition, most large gyms now offer barre classes. While they all have their unique aspects, you can count on a focus on alignment and form – low weight/high rep exercises- and muscle sculpting. Some of the names of barre-type exercise studios in addition to The Bar Method are Pure Barre, Physique 57, Core Fusion, Barre3 and Figure 4.
Barre-type studios should all take moves from Lotte Berk Method, Pilates, basic classical ballet and even a little yoga. Sample a class at the studio near you and see what you think. I definitely felt the workout in my hips after my first class, so I figured it was good for me! I like it and have continued to attend classes. It does get easier.
There are many You Tube 20 minute barre workout videos to get you acquainted.
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Some equipment you might need if doing any barre workouts at home:
10” Mini-Pilates stability ball $11.99.
2 lb. Stott Pilates toning balls – two of them $13.99 each.
Note: Ask your instructor for additional instruction if you are not familiar with the ballet poses they are using in class. Doing them incorrectly can cause injury.