Now that colder weather is upon us, it’s time for the ever-rising barre workout. This gentle, yet effective workout is inclusive for all people regardless of their age, weight, or fitness level. Barre is also an excellent activity for pregnant women because it’s not too high of impact, and addresses balance and stability needed for a growing belly! It also offers the benefit of sculpting like a ballerina’s body; what’s not intriguing about that?
A brief overview
Barre is performed with pretty basic equipment, namely a ballet bar, and much of the movements are based on classic ballet positions. This fitness phenomenon was created by a German ballerina, Lotte Berk, after she suffered a back injury and began combining her rehabilitative therapy with dance.
What to expect
Most barre classes will follow a similar structure: it begins with a mat-based warm-up that includes planks and push ups, then you’ll move to the bar for leg strengthening exercises, and finally finish on the mat with a series of core drills. The class is part of a well-rounded program to help balance and connect you to your body. Barre classes usually run 60 minutes.
The bar is an extension of the movement; it’s used as a prop to help you balance through the the exercises.
The activity typically only involves body weight, but at times, it will incorporate light hand weights or resistance bands. During mat-work, exercise balls are used to aid in muscle engagement.
What to wear
Whenever attending a fitness class, wear what you’re most comfortable in. Many people choose yoga clothing for a barre class, which typically looks like leggings, a sports bra, and a top. Socks are optional, so go barefoot! Unless you’re class is on slick flooring such as wood, tile, or cement, then opt for grippy socks; a couple of companies even offer “shoe” specific for a barre class.
The benefits of a barre workout
- Posture – In a technological age where most of us are desk-bound eight hours a day, posture is one of the greatest benefits of barre. Sure, it won’t necessarily burn fat, but it keeps your body in proper alignment allowing you to safely and correctly workout. When you first start barre, a common indicator of poor posture being sore in areas you’re not used to. As your posture progresses, you’ll notice you can sit and stand much taller and your spine absorbs less stress and tension throughout the day.
- Connection with your body – In physiological terms, the mind-body connection is called proprioception. This is hugely important to have an idea of where your body is, and the space it takes up. The mind-body connection can aid in not only mindfulness of the workout, but injury prevention. Having an awareness over your body in what it’s doing and where it’s at, will greatly strengthen your movement capabilities. In addition to improving your proprioception, research has suggested that ballerinas perform better at tasks involving fine motor skill — movement which involves the nervous system — such as the synchronization of hands, fingers, and eyes.
- Flexibility – In taking a barre class, there is no prerequisite in being flexible, as each class you’ll develop and strengthen your overall range of motion, and reduce further, your risk of injury. Muscle tension including the surrounding ligaments and tendons often leads to pain and poor posture. A barre class focuses on stretching, which helps mitigate these issues and move more fluidly through your day.
- Functional strength – Strictly using bodyweight paired with the movements of barre targets muscle groups within your whole body. You may be performing one specific exercise for your thighs, but the balance involved activates different muscles to help with stability, and therefore works many different muscle groups. Conditioning every muscle group prepares your body for everyday movements, increases strength, and prevents injuries.
- Endurance – Barre is known for incorporating isometric contractions into the movements, which contracts or tightens the muscle without affecting its length. The contractions apply slow-twitch muscle fibers that can increase endurance.
Are you ready to benefit from barre?
If you’re ready to honor your body, both physically and mentally, Every Body Balance offers an ideal space for you to achieve all of your wellness goals.
Try a Every Body Balance class today!