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Barre practice may sound new and trendy, but it’s actually been around for several years
For all those fortunate enough to live in fitness-centric locations like New York or L.A. This exercise routine is more than a craze. It deserves its ranking amongst key workouts and physique builders and should be on offer in a studio near you.
Grab your best friend and a towel because this is one gym session that will get our body heat revved up, and you’re going to want to share the moment! If you’re not quite sure what it’s all about or if you are even interested, read on to find out what an average workout looks like, what you may need to join a class and find out what results to expect when you commit to the barre!
First off, let’s clear up a common misconception; barre practice is not going to make you the next Anna Pavlova. It won’t even teach you how to dance. If you have passed on the opportunity to take a class because the idea of doing ballet was not your style, then you have missed out on a killer workout. Barre takes the very best body shaping moves from ballet practice to give you that svelte line of a true dancer. It then blends in the toning, shaping and balancing poses from Pilates, yoga and certain calisthenics to build a series of micro-movements that can change the entire body, quickly.
When you go to sign up, don’t pop in the day of the class. It’s better to go a few days before and get the specifics for that particular barre practice. Often registration for a class opens a week or two in advance, and they may let you choose your placement in the room. They’ll also tell you what equipment, often light hand weights and a mat if not provided by the facility, and attire to bring. Most classes follow a similar format that works the top of your body down to your toes, so this is what you can expect when the day comes. They often begin with a mat warm-up and then a sequence of upper body strength exercises like planks, push-ups and hand weight lifts. Then you will head to the barre and follow a series of moves that borrow heavily from ballet strength positions to tone your legs, hips and glutes. Your abs will have a short focus towards the end, but the secret to success in barre class is training your core the moment you begin.
Most of This Fitness Routine Is about Form in Every Movement.
Those who have been regular yogis or dancers will grasp the idea quickly. It is your physical alignment that activates all the deep muscles in the body as you press down through your feet and up through your head, pull your shoulders down and keep your arms in front of the body. Your pelvis should stay in a continuous tuck, meaning it rotates down and forward eliminating any arch in your back. Most barre moves will require your legs to be together from thigh to heel and your feet splayed out at a 45-degree angle starting at the thighs not at the knees. Anyone who has seen ballet will be familiar with this starting pose.
It may sound complicated, but after performing all of the repetitions in a class or two, you will have the form, movements and jargon well memorized. It’s important to take the time to do so, as your conscious effort on form is what activates your core and gives you the amazing results actresses and models have been raving about.
Barre is not about sweeping limbs and aerobic energy. It is about micro-movements...
During the movements, it’s also important to think small. Barre is not about sweeping limbs and aerobic energy. It is about micro-movements that stay within an inch or two. These controlled, small pumps require strength, concentration and precision. This is why barre has also been hailed as therapy. It works to calm the mind and focus your attention, allowing stress and lists to fall away for one full hour.
You may need to bring your own dumbbells and though you can lift heavier, starting with 1-3 pound weights is preferable. Trust us, this class will get you sore and tired without adding more weight. You may also need to bring your own mat. As for what to wear, many classes are done in bare feet, but they may ask you to wear grippy socks. For clothing, yoga pants and a fitted shirt are best, so your instructor can see your form and make adjustments where needed. If you’re not comfortable in full body-hugging clothes, be sure you wear something that stretches and moves easily with no restrictions. Yoga pants and a loose-fitting sports tee should work as well.
Barre practice is an acute strength training that targets deep inner muscles rarely used while lengthening and toning the long muscles through the body.
Practiced three to four times a week with a cardio routine on opposite days and you will have a full fitness program that works your whole body. Don’t think you can’t do this. Barre is one class that works at your level, no matter where that is, and it’s even great during pregnancy! It improves your posture, inner and outer balance, tone and flexibility and burns off unwanted fat. What more could you want?
It’s important to remember that no workout can give you 100% perfect results on its own. Barre is sculpting and toning. It may be light cardio at first, but as your body adjusts, it is important to add in some extra cardio. Diet is also key in getting the body you want. Be sure to feed your body carbohydrates for energy before a workout and concentrated protein, like any of OWYN’s ready to drink or powdered varieties, to help heal and repair your muscles at the end. If you eat clean, balance your macronutrients and monitor your calories in versus energy out, you can be the person in your mind.
Laura Manning, MPH, RDN, CDN The Low FODMAP diet is getting some well-deserved attention these days.