Barre workouts are on the rise across Canada, growing in popularity and demand.
Barre is a combination of yoga, Pilates, dance, cardiovascular conditioning and strength training based around a ballet barre. However, each fitness studio or method takes a different approach to how they execute barre classes and often use different pieces of equipment throughout the 50 to 60-minute class — think hand weights, Therabands and Pilates balls paired with high energy music.
Barre is a full body workout that will leave you feeling fabulous and full of energy. Isometric exercises that target specific muscles, in combination with small movements, such as pulses, are found in all classes. The goal of a barre workout is to create increased muscle tone, strength and endurance while working on proper posture, functional movement and mental focus, all while having fun.
Cardio bursts and periods of stretch are used throughout the class to elevate the heart rate and assist with the delayed onset of muscle soreness. Don’t worry, you don’t need a dance background or flexibility to feel successful in a barre class.
Barre workouts are accessible to all fitness levels because it is low-impact and can be tailored to individual needs. Modifications are provided throughout the class with hands on adjustments from instructors combined with proper cueing about postural awareness. However, it is important that participants speak up and reach out to their instructors prior to class so they are supported appropriately. Likewise, barre allows seasoned participants to push beyond their personal limits while safely working in a higher impact cardiovascular zone using different equipment, more resistance or heavier weights.
3 Barre Exercises to Try at Home
1. First Position
Target Muscles: Hamstrings, abductors, glutes
Stand facing the barre (use a chair or countertop if you’re at home), spine neutral and heels together. Rock back on your heels and externally rotate your legs (keep your heels together) creating a small pizza-slice shape with your feet. Roll forward onto the balls of your feet and lift your heels while keeping them together. Engage your glutes and abs, relax your shoulders and lift your chin. Your knees should be slightly bent and in line with your first and second toes when movement begins. Be slow and controlled as you bend and straighten your knees. Squeeze your heels together on the way up for deeper glute work.
2. Mermaid Parallel
Target Muscles: Adductors, hamstrings, lower glutes
Begin facing the barre with your legs glued together from your feet to your inner thighs. Rise onto the balls of your feet. Bend knees as you lower your body a few inches (a plié) then slowly rise back up by contracting your inner thighs, hamstrings and glutes. Knees should track over your first and second toes and the pelvis should remain neutral. Imagine your back sliding up and down a wall. Try making the movement smaller by only moving up and down one inch.
3. Barre Bridge
Target Muscles: Glutes, hamstrings
Lie face up on a mat with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart on the ground. Push into the soles of your feet to lift hips off the mat while keeping all 10 toes on the mat. Shoulders should be flat on the floor, but do not tuck them under as you would in yoga. Hips should be closer to the ground, not higher to the ceiling to ease low back pressure. Lift and lower the hips up and down one inch by pressing through the heels to engage the glute muscles.