Barre For Men

When It Comes To Barre… What About The Men?

Every season, London’s Royal Ballet dance through over 6,000 pairs of pointe shoes. And from the moment the Italian ballerina Amalia Brugnoli first performed on full pointe in 1823, that pose has become intrinsic to the mystique of the female ballerina. But what about the men?

Even at the highest levels, men have instead focused on precise floor-work and soaring jumps. When performed at all, en pointe sequences have tended to veer towards the comedic, a witty distraction on the stage.

To that end, when it comes to barre classes, a canny adaptation of the core ballet techniques spliced into the structure of a fitness class, a lot of men don’t know quite what to expect of it. 

Some of the common misconceptions are that it will be too easy or that they’ll look stupid, pirouetting across the classroom floor. They are picturing candy-floss pink tutus and complex dance steps, two things they might not be overwhelmingly comfortable with. Of course, these couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

In fact, the low-impact, high-intensity movements that are fundamental to a barre class, often work the precise muscles most men cruelly ignore during a traditional gym session. By targeting the smaller intrinsic muscles, muscles that we don’t often use in everyday life—barre works the body in ways few other disciplines can. And the focus on small, considered movements can encourage mind-body awareness, which in turn can reduce injuries and over-extension.

Most men, once they try it, and stick with it, are converted for good. Sticking with it, is a point worth pausing on. Some guys come once and leave thinking they’re born with two left feet or an inability to grasp the basics, but that is likely down to the fact that for men, more than women, the movements in barre can feel completely foreign. It’s not that men are less coordinated or even less flexible on the whole, but they may be less comfortable. 

If you book-in once, you might think ‘Nah, not for me.’ But persevere. Come twice, come three times and suddenly it starts to click.

At Oona, the fast-paced barre classes combine a serious workout with a killer soundtrack. Catie’s 45-minute barre classes keep your heart rate raised throughout and the uninterrupted reps strengthen and sculpt your muscles. 

This is precisely why Barre is increasingly in vogue with high-level athletes. Footballers use it for injury prevention; runners turn to it for strength; and, even NBA star Kent Bazemore has written about how he turned to barre to strengthen his core, and as a by-product, it improved his agility and upgraded his jump.

What’s the takeaway from all this? Sign up for a barre class, enter with a willingness and an open mind, and even the most fervent sports fanatics and cardio junkies will exit very pleasantly surprised (and feeling the good kind of burn).