WHAT IS BARRE?
Barre is an athletic workout inspired by the art of dance, blending movement from ballet, yoga and Pilates to train muscles throughout the body. It gets its name from the ballet barre, which is used for balance during class.
Many yoga devotees have turned to barre workouts as an alternative to their typical studio session. Kaitlin Kimble, an analyst at DICK’S Sporting Goods, signed up for barre to expand her workout regimen beyond cardio. She quickly became a regular in the studio.
“It’s a nice alternative to the standard workout approach,” Kimble said. “It’s fun and it focuses on smaller movements. You don’t leave drenched in sweat, but you’re still working your muscles.”
WHY SHOULD I TRY IT?
Barre is an excellent whole-body workout that strengthens and lengthens muscles. It can improve strength, balance, flexibility and endurance.
It does this through isometric exercise, a type of strength training that tenses muscles without contracting or changing them in length. Essentially, you’ll be holding postures and performing multiple reps of smaller, more precise movements — and you’re sure to feel the burn post-class.
WHAT IF I’M NOT A DANCER?
While barre takes its cues from ballet, you don’t need to be a prima ballerina to join in. Dance experience isn’t required, and there are distinct differences between barre training and a traditional ballet dance course.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT IN CLASS?
You’ll warm-up with deep stretches that promote both flexibility and muscle recovery. Then, you’ll move through a series of dance-inspired movements that target the upper body, core and lower body. A ballet barre and free weights are used as props.
In class, expect to focus on proper form and perform slower, smaller movements.
“You’re truly building muscle, even if it might not seem that way at first,” Kimble said. “Give it a couple of classes and you’ll start to feel like your balance, posture and core strength are improving.”
Always consult the professionals at your local studio for details on your class.
WHAT DO I NEED TO GET STARTED?
- Athletic Apparel: Comfortable, stretchable clothing, like capris or yoga pants, are a great fit for class. Pair your bottoms with an airy tank or tee and get ready to hit the barre.
- Sports Bras: Barre is a low-impact workout, so the light support of a low-impact bra may work best, though you should always consider your own level of comfort.
- Ballet & Yoga Socks: Socks with a texturized bottom — or rubber pads that grip — prevent you from slipping and sliding in the studio.
- Free Weights: Many studios provide props, but you can bring your training home with simple free weights.
- Water Bottle: No matter your workout regimen, hydration is key. Pack up a leak-proof bottle for class.