How To Convert A Skeptic To Barre
Although it is fading, there is still a loud and proud fitness community convinced that if you’re not bench pressing your bodyweight or torturing yourself on a treadmill, you’re not really working out. Reassuringly, that is far from true and there are heaps of science and case studies to make this point.
A combination of ballet, yoga and Pilates, it could be argued that Barre brings together the best of all three techniques. And while, yes, barre is beginner-friendly and adaptable to various skill sets and fitness levels, don’t let that lull you into a sense of false security that it is easy. If done right, each tiny and focused movement is designed to push your muscles right to the edge.
To this end, the goal of a barre workout is to create long and lean muscles through insurance, not to build muscle mass. And while no teacher conducts his or her class in precisely the same way, you can typically expect a warm-up intent on raising your heart rate, followed by a series of exercises that hone in on a precise muscle group or target area. Expect to hear the phrase “go down an inch, up an inch” at every bend. A good barre class has a flow, working the shoulders, arms, back, core, thighs, and seat in a sequence that is both considered and encouraging.
Specifically, along the way you might find yourself planking, in a push-up, holding a plié or deepening into a lunge. Where the work (and the magic) happens is within each movement, as you’re asked to hold to pulse to circle and to lift.
In barre, often less is more. The goal is to contract the target muscle and sustain a range of motion that is both controlled and precise. When you start to shake—that’s a sign you are doing it right! Even if you don’t feel out of breath or dripping with sweat, those instances where your body trembles or burns will have an impact. So prepare to hurt, both during and after class.
But there’s something deeper at play here. Engaging in barre exercises can have a lasting positive impact on your posture. A 2020 study followed participants engaging in two 50-minute barre classes a week for three months, and the ensuing results found that barre significantly improved head, shoulder, and pelvic posture.
Growing up, we’re often told that poor posture is merely a bad habit, but that’s a retort that skims over the root cause. Often, we don’t stand up straight because we can’t. Low-grade inflammation and tight, inflexible muscles can alter the way you carry your body. A constricted hip? A weak core? These can translate into slumping, poor balance, back pain and more.
And while a barre instructor can’t wave a magic wand, it’s a workout that is fun and fast-moving, it’s unintimidating while also challenging, and each session, you’ll find yourself pulsing muscles you never knew you had!