Do you enjoy ballet, yoga and pilates? Then the recent workout trend, barre, might just be perfect for you. Created in 1959, barre is mainly based on ballet movements and positions but combines yoga and pilates, as well. Since the first studio’s opening in London, many others have opened in America, with many variations added to the original techniques that were taught. Today, many fitness lovers are regulars at barre classes. Here, we will go over why barre is so popular, along with its benefits – and remember, it’s not just for dancers!

Photo: PureBarre

The Workout

The reason it’s called barre is because the main equipment used in a class is a ballet barre (duh)! It is used mainly as a prop to balance on when doing the workouts, which feature isometric movements. During the hour-long class, you will most likely utilize a padded mat for floor exercises, and sometimes a stretchy resistance band, and a small medicine ball. The workout usually includes small weights that you will use for part of the time, about two to five pounds.

The class will generally start off with a warm-up and a set of upper-body workouts in the center of the room (using the weights), then transition to the barre to work your legs and glutes (customarily using just the barre, and sometimes the medicine ball and resistance band). You’ll target your core after the barre, with help from the mat, and finally participate in a cool-down that slows you down and stretches your muscles further. During the whole class, the instructor will play upbeat, pump-you-up music, and encourage everyone to “tuck your tailbone” and pulse “down an inch, up an inch”.

Photo: ToneBarre

What are Isometric Movements?

In other words, isometric movements are contractions of a particular muscle or group of muscles. When doing these exercises, your muscles don’t work ver. The movements take very little work, and you usually perform them with just the weight of your body. One of the biggest benefits of doing them is that they provide you with the highest amount of muscle activation. Isometric movements use up about 95 percent of your muscles, as opposed to other workouts that use only about 88 to 90 percent! They permanently train your muscles to their full potential.

Photo: The Bar Method

The Benefits

Most people reported seeing improved posture and more toned muscles, after just a few classes. Also mentioned were weight loss, increased flexibility and reduced stress (a plus for many of us!). You may tend to see some pregnant women in barre classes because they’re low impact and can help with balance. Because barre classes combine strength training and cardio, you’ll be burning fat and building muscle at the same time (and sweating a lot, too!).

Where to Take a Class

In Southern California, the most popular barre classes are at PureBarre, ToneBarre, and The Bar Method. Many of the studios offer monthly challenges to get you motivated to win prizes or recognize you when you’ve reached a milestone number of classes.

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