You may have heard friends talk about ballet-inspired toning classes or heard about celebrities like Kelly Ripa using barre fitness classes to get long and lean, but were worried that they are too challenging or expensive to try. Luckily, that fretting was for naught—you can try barre from the comforts of home right now!
The barre movement began in 1959 in London and was founded by Lotte Berk. Its growing popularity of barre classes is likely due to the fact that it’s doable by all fitness levels, says Alex McLean, an American Council on Exercise-certified master trainer for BarreWRX USA.
“A barre workout can tone and strengthen the entire body without the overwhelming impact of a high intensity workout,” says McLean. “It provides a great way to move the body naturally to improve core strength, posture, flexibility, and body awareness, leaving participants feeling graceful and strong.”
You might have heard of Pure Barre, Barre3, The Bar Method, and The Barre Code, you don’t have to visit a boutique fitness studio to get started. “Outlets from big chain health clubs to Pilates studios offer barre classes,” says McLean. “Online fitness portals like FitnessGLO and DailyBurn have added barre to their programming, or you can order a barre fitness DVD,” he suggests.
The main principles of Barre stem from Pilates. Through barefoot training, you’ll focus on centering, core stability and strengthening while improving balance and coordination. Barre workouts also build muscular endurance and strength, as well as flexibility and mobility.
“Barre workouts are for all fitness levels and ages, ranging from beginning exercisers to elite athletes, from teens to the active aging,” says McLean. “The beauty of barre is that each exercise can be tweaked specifically to the individual, enhancing the dynamics of the group experience with personalized attention.”
3 Barre Exercises You Can Do Anywhere
These exercises from Jillian Lorenz and Ariana Chernin, founders of The Barre Code® studios will fire up your core muscles while tightening and toning your abs.
Start in a full-arm plank position—with hands directly underneath the shoulders on the floor, gaze focused 4 to 6 inches in front of the fingertips. Keep the neck long, hips slightly tucked, and navel pulled into the spine. Engage the quads and imagine you’re sending energy out through the heels. You’re creating one long line from the crown of your head to your heels. From here, start to walk your hands towards your feet as your send your hips up behind you. Keep your feet grounded and your legs as straight as possible. When your hands reach your feet, roll up and raise your hands to the sky, keeping your chest open and shoulders back and down. Roll down, place your hands on the ground, and walk back out into a full arm plank. Repeat 30 times.
Start standing with your left hip turned toward your support, like a kitchen counter, back of a couch, or chair. Place your left hand lightly on the support and use as needed. Your feet should be directly underneath your hips in a parallel position. Roll the shoulders back and down, pull the navel toward the spine, and tuck your hip slightly to engage the lower abdominal muscles. Raise the right arm over your head and point the right toes out to the side. From here, pull the right elbow into your right oblique as you lift the right leg out to the side as high as you can. You should feel this in your hip, glutes muscles, and that oblique. Repeat 20 times on this side, and 20 times on the other side.
Knee-Pull while Standing
Start in standing plank position: hands on your kitchen counter or similar support, arms in line with shoulders, legs extended back on balls of feet and body at 45-degree angle. Keeping back flat and abs engaged, pull right knee in towards chest, then switch legs. Do this as fast as you can for 60 seconds. You can do this wearing sneakers so you don’t slip on the floor.
– By Diana Kelly