When you hear the words barre class, do you imagine a bunch of willowy twenty-five-year-olds en pointe and wearing tutus?
If so, you aren’t the only one.
Looking at social media feeds or reading about celebrities' favorite workouts, you will see that many of them are doing the same thing — barre class.
But you do not need to have a background in ballet (or be twenty-five years old) to join a barre class. Barre is for anyone looking for a low-impact workout that is fun and challenging!
The Paseo Club is a social club in the Santa Clarita Valley. We offer tennis, pickleball, water aerobics, and over 60 fitness classes, including HIIT, Pilates, cycle, yoga, Zumba, and barre.
Many of our members have been asking about barre class. We decided to write this article to help answer those questions. Read on to learn what barre class is, how it gets you fit, and the benefits of taking a barre class.
What is barre class?
Barre workouts are one part ballet, one part Pilates, one part strength training, and one part yoga.
This combination results in a low-impact dance-inspired class performed at a slower pace. The emphasis is on high reps, isometric holds, and working within a small range of movements.
Most barre classes contain a warm-up, work at the barre, then on the mat, and a cool down of stretching and mobility work.
What are the origins of barre?
Barre dates to the 1950s and was developed by the ballerina Lotte Berk. She injured her back and used her ballet training to develop new ways to rehabilitate herself. She created barre for non-dancers as a method for fitness and overall physical well-being. Barre has gained in popularity ever since.
What parts of the body get targeted in barre?
Barre exercises all areas of the body, head to toe. Every muscle group gets fatigued by doing small micro-movements at high volumes, resulting in toned, elongated muscles.
Although all the movements use body weight or very light weights (three to five pounds), the quantity of the reps tests even the fittest persons' endurance.
The majority of the movements in barre class focus on engaging the core. Once the core is activated, then additional movements of squats, plies, kickbacks, and planks are added, working legs, glutes, arms, pelvic floor, and back.
What are the benefits of barre?
Barre is a form of resistance training. Other forms of resistance training are weightlifting, HIIT, and band workouts. These methods build muscle, tone your body, and improve balance.
Although barre is a workout for your entire body, it does give extra attention to the glutes and core.
Stronger glute muscles help stabilize the pelvis to alleviate pressure on the back, hips, and knees. A stronger core means a flatter tummy and stronger muscles around the spine, which can ease tension in the lower back.
Stretching and mobility work are significant components of barre training. The majority of mobility work is done by standing, focusing on isolating the back and legs to maximize flexibility. Some common movements include side bends, twists, flexions, and extensions.
Over time, barre classes can help you build more muscular endurance, so that you can work harder and for longer periods of time. You will find that you are less winded and can increase your reps and improve your performance.
For many people, exercising by running or jumping is no longer an option. Whether it is old injuries you need to protect, or feeling the effects of aging, low-impact workouts are a great way to stay fit without inflaming knees, hips, or shoulders. Barre’s approach to movement takes stress off of joints so you can successfully train.
Similar to Pilates, Barre focuses on engaging and strengthening the core. The core is not just your abdominal muscles. It includes the supportive muscles that run alongside the front, sides, and back of your torso.
As these muscles tone, they help your spine stay aligned as you sit, stand, train, and sleep.
Work on the shoulders, arms, and upper back prevents slouching, so you stand taller with a sense of elongation from head to toe.
Great for cross training
Research has found that cross training helps you perform better in your primary sport. This is why football players do ballet, soccer players do Crossfit, and swimmers lift weights.
Barre builds strength, coordination, agility, and balance which translates well to several sports, including tennis, pickleball, running, and cycling.
Is there any person who should not attend barre class?
Barre is appropriate for any level of fitness and at any age. Modifications can be made for anyone with injuries.
One of the biggest misnomers about barre is that you need to be flexible to take the class — and this is not true. In fact, attending class will make you more flexible.
Getting ready for your first barre class
Barre is a class for people who want a full-body workout that focuses on building strength, agility, and mobility. It is for beginners as well as seasoned athletes who are looking for a new challenge.
If you have any questions or pre-existing injuries or limitations, please talk to the instructor prior to class.
Remember to wear form-fitting clothes to class that stretch and move with you and bring your water bottle.
Jen Azevedo is a tennis professional, pickleball professional, personal trainer, group exercise instructor, and the general manager of the Paseo Club. She loves the community at the Paseo Club and that it is also a safe and fun place for her daughter. Jen’s favorite activities are joining her tribe for trail races or her partners for tennis matches. Occasionally Jen slows down to relax with a book — she reads over 100 a year!