barre-based workouts

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.

Barre-Exercise-Classes--barre-based workouts
Photo credit- wellesleybodyinmotion.com

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.

PopSugar barre-based workouts
Photo credit- www.popsugar.com

Some equipment you might need if doing any barre workouts at home:

10” Mini-Pilates stability ball $11.99.

-Stott-Pilates-mini-stability-ball barre-based workouts

2 lb. Stott Pilates toning balls – two of them $13.99 each.

Barre-based Workout-classes---Stott-Pilates-2-lb.-ball

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.