What the hell is barré (bar-ray), barre yoga or whatever that class you teach is called?
Many of us have heard of the amazing fitness workout called barre and are completely hip; however, there are still people who have never heard of or have never tried Barre fitness. Sounds crazy to some but for me completely invigorating. I absolutely love the newbies and am passionate about sharing this life changing workout to anyone open and willing to step into the transformational space of barre fitness.
So What is Barre Fitness and what benefits can I expect?
Barre fitness is a blended workout class that combines ballet technique with yoga, pilates and strength/weight training. During class you can expect to focus on high reps of small range isometric movements. The common lingo you will hear in a barre class include: pliés, relevé, first position, second position, pulsing, static holds and tucks just to name a few. So if you are imagining Regina George's mom from the movie Mean Girls unapologetically dancing along to the Plastics' Jingle Bell Rock routine while simultaneously videotaping the girls, you are... sorta correct.
However, a "tuck" or pelvic tilt require much more form and technique and is a key concept in barre and the secret to sculpted thighs, glutes and abs. And who doesn't want a nice toned booty, right? Don't worry you can practice tucking as you continue to read this blog.
Tucking simply means to pull your hips forward while drawing your abs back. If you look at yourself in a mirror, you can see the tuck happening from a side view. When you tuck, the arch in your lower back will disappear, elongating your tailbone. This can make any exercise feel harder and therefore, present more results. So don't feel shy, everyone around you will be focusing on perfecting there tuck. Trust me... YOU DO NOT have to feel embarrassed or think anyone is staring at you, besides me. I am, as your instructor, staring at you to help you perfect that tuck!
The barre workout uses your own body weight and can use equipment. By using your body weight for resistance and small, deliberate movements, your body focuses on specific groups of muscles. Muscles are worked to the point of fatigue, and then stretched for relief in between combinations. The proper form, body alignment and posture your instructor will assist you with and emphasize is what leads to the overall strengthening of core muscles and the appearance of an aligned, lean body.
The equipment used during Barre workouts can vary. For a full barre fitness workout, there will be a free-standing or wall mounted ballet barre. Other equipment includes soft exercise balls, weighted yoga blocks, light hand weights and a variety of resistance bans.
Is Barre Fitness only for dancers?
Barre fitness is not only for dancers. I have seen some of the strongest athletes break a serious sweat from a workout that is also safe for pregnant women.This low impact high intensity exercise is great for those that run, cycle or weight lift because it strengthens the small muscles needed to help prevent injury and gives the larger muscles a break to recover. Many of my students who are runners and cyclists use barre fitness to train, rehab an injury and develop mental strength and focus. Many athletes love this workout because they are able to burn fat simultaneously while building muscle. Muscle tissue is proven to burn 15 times as many calories as fat; therefore, the stronger the muscles become, the more calories you are able to burn.
Small isometric muscle movements used during barre classes build muscle strength without putting a strain on ligaments and tendons like other fitness training methods can. I love these small precise movements because they give students something to focus and concentrate on that takes them away from all that is going on in their lives outside of class.
Oh and the focus and concentration is real. I always tell my students, “This is a safe space and a brave space.” Those both new and seasoned can find themselves stepping out of their comfort zones both mentally and physically in each workout and allows them to have a healthy mind body connection. By focusing on your form and breathing, your mind and body naturally connect inward.
We naturally hold stress in both our mind and body. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and is the most important hormone of the body because it is connected to every system in the body. Your cortisol levels help control your blood sugar levels, regulates your metabolism/blood pressure, affects your sleep quality, aids in fetal health during pregnancy, impacts your sex life and helps to maintain muscle memory. Your cortisol levels are controlled by your pituitary glands located in your brain. Why is this called a stress hormone you ask? "Stress is anything that triggers the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol, so any stress (be it mental, emotional, or physical) can cause a cortisol response in the body. However, if you are in a lot of mental/emotional stress, fitness workouts that encourage you to focus on mind/body can assist as it makes your cortisol levels spike and then stabilize.
Most barre workouts will have a cool down portion at the end of the class that allows you to stretch out the newly discovered muscles. I like to offer meditation techniques at the end of barre class to help reduce those spiked cortisol levels, help students relax and re-center and realign their bodies before they leave back out into the world.
So this sounds incredible, right? Now you find yourself signing up for your nearest barre class and are wondering, "what the hell do I wear?" Never fear... I got you boo!
I encourage you to choose workout attire that allows you to be free, flexible and sweaty. (yoga type wear). Most go-tos for women are leggings, sports bras and or tank tops. Most go-tos for men are compression tights and or gym shorts and tanks or t shirts. For footwear, you can either go barefoot or wear grippy barre/yoga socks to help with your balance and stability.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave a message below. I hope that you have the most invigorating barre class and that you, my friend, CAN'T...GET...ENOUGH.