I love being a Barre instructor. If you are unfamiliar with Barre, here is how I describe it: Barre is a low-impact workout that combines of the principles of ballet, yoga and pilates. I use ballet and yoga terminology and focus on engaging core muscles throughout a total body workout. We use a ballet barre or similar prop, dumbbells, and toning balls. However, Barre can easily be done at home using no weights and a chair. Barre workouts can include stability/balance, core, upper body, and of course lower body. There are a lot of variations including cardio, toning, and a combination of both. Though Barre is a low-impact workout, it can still be high-intensity. Here are a few items I recommend bringing to class and some pre, in-class, and post-class tips and tricks.
Barre is typically preformed either barefoot or with nonslip socks, especially if you are in a Pure Barre class because their studios are carpeted. I typically switch up going barefoot or use Nike Studio Wraps. I love the studio wraps because they help me grip the floor better and I wear them when I teach and attend yoga classes as well.
I typically don’t teach a cardio version of barre. However, doing the floor, barre, and mat work gets me sweating. I definitely recommend bringing water and a towel.
What To Wear
You want to make sure you are comfortable especially when you are lifting your legs and lying on the floor. I recommend wearing compression or fitted capris, a low to medium impact sports bra, and a breathable tank top or shirt. Here is my typical barre outfit:
Form, Pointing Toes, Pulses, and Squeezing muscles
Form is the most important part of the class. Always check yourself out in the mirror to make sure your butt is not sticking out and your chest is proud when you plié. I really stress the importance of squeezing your glutes and legs throughout class as well as making sure you engage your core. When you hear “squeeze” you should be squeezing from your butt down to your calves. So when you plié and straighten back up really squeeze your glutes and legs. Anytime you lift your leg you should be pointing your toe. When I say “pointing your toe” I mean curling them under and squeezing your foot. If you aren’t used to pointing, you may start to feel tightness in your foot. If you do, flex it and work out the tightness. Eventually, your feet will get used to it and no longer cramp.
Correct form and squeezing will decrease the time it takes to see results. The leg exercises will work parts of your legs you typically don’t use while running or doing other exercise classes. I have had extremely fit people get great workouts to their surprise because they never realized they were not routinely working particular muscles.
As far as weights. We use low weight dumbbells with high repetition. You will feel your muscles working with a dumbbell even as small as one or two pounds. In my classes we use three and five pound weights. It is all about endurance and sculpting lean strong muscles.
Pulses or what my participants call “little tiny tortures” are what really make your muscles shake. Pulsing is a staple in Barre classes and are little tiny movements up or down that work your core and legs.
Pre and In-Class Tips
- Something I always ask people is if they have any issues with their feet, like plantar fasciitis. This is because we relevé and stand in demi-pointe a lot, meaning we hold all our weight on the ball of our foot. If a participant has any foot pain, I always ask them not to relevé and instead do the exercise flat footed.
- Barre is for everyone, no matter your fitness level. I always provide modifications for more difficult exercises so do not be nervous.
- Come in with an open mind. At first the class may seem easy but if you are doing the exercises in correct form, you will start to feel your muscles working.
- “Good Shake.” You may here this or some variation of this phrase during your class. This is when your legs begin to shake, typically when you are performing a plié in demi-pointe. This is normal and means you are working those leg muscles.
- If at any point to feel any cramping, stop and stretch that muscle.
- Stretching is important for any exercise but make sure you stretch well directly after class and for the next couple of days. Typically, the next day you feel great and then the second day you will feel tightness in your muscles.
- Using a foam roller is a great way to release any muscle tension you may have.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Note how you feel so that you can compare your first class to your next, and so on.
Barre is a great way to start or end a week. I have many participants who regularly do Body Pump, Spin, Zumba, RIPPED, and Tabata and they end their week with my Barre class to stretch their muscles and focus on their core. You will feel the burn. Let me know your experience with Barre!
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