A Look at the Barre Method: What is Barre?

A Look at the Barre Method: What is Barre?

Laura A. HeadshotPosted by Laura Agadoni, guest blogger

You may have heard about a new type of exercise class that uses the barre method to achieve results, so it’s natural to wonder what it’s all about. Although this ballet-inspired practice is all the rage today, it’s not just a passing fad. Barre classes derive from Lottie Berk, a German dancer who opened an exercise studio in London in 1959. Many different studios now teach barre classes to tone, tighten, and lift, and each studio has its own take, providing students with a tough but fun workout to help them reach that coveted dancer’s physique.

Train Like a Dancer

Even if you’re not a professional ballet dancer, it is possible to achieve lean muscle by taking barre classes, which combine the grace and elegance of the dance world with the alignment and focus of Pilates or yoga. But what is barre? As the name suggests, you line up at the ballet barre for many of the exercises, performing numerous reps of small isometric strength-training movements. You’ll target your core and lower body, specifically, as well as your upper body depending on the intensity of the session. Some barre method instructors use dance terms such as “relevé” or “passé” to let you know what to do.

Jessi Agadoni, my niece and a former barre instructor from southern California, said she instantly loved the community that barre classes offered. After being a student for a few months, she was asked to become an instructor.

I asked Jessi to give me all the ins and outs of barre classes:

Imagine yourself as a beautiful ballet dancer

In a barre class, intense athleticism and regal grace characterize ballet dancers.

Do you need a dance background?

(Jessi): You do not need to have dance experience, but it does make the first few classes easier. If dance and movement come easy to you, you will pick it up in no time. If engaging your own body coordination is a new experience or a bit of a challenge, make sure to give yourself some grace for the first few classes.

What can a person expect the first time?

(Jessi): Your first experience in a barre class can vary depending on your background. The classes are tough, and the exercises can feel new to your muscles, so soreness after class is normal.

How long does a class last?

(Jessi): A typical barre class lasts fifty-five to sixty minutes. The more classes you take, the quicker the time goes by.

What should youwear?

(Jessi): I usually suggest form-fitting, yoga-like clothing. The better your instructor can see your physical outlines, the more definition your form has, and the safer she can keep you throughout class. Also, wear socks with sticky tread on the bottom to protect against slipping on a hard floor.

Should I bring anything to class?

(Jessi): I always recommend bringing water in case the studio does not provide it, and a small hand towel to wipe away any perspiration as necessary.

What benefits can students expect to gain?

(Jessi): There are so many wonderful results from this workout. You build long, lean muscle instead of bulk. You feel a fantastic burn every time you go because your muscles are always challenged with a new set of movements, so everything stays fresh. And the music is fresh and energizing, keeping you happy, healthy, and moving.

Have you taken a barre class? Let us know how you like it.

Image source: Flickr