In case you didn't get the memo, barre body babes are a thing and there's a reason this exercise is on the rise. Celebrities and supermodels including Margo Robbie, Taylor Swift, Karlie Kloss and Alessandra Ambrosio have one thing in common - their workout of choice is barre. You know what they say, 'friends who train together, stay together'. Even Marylin Monroe was an advocate for the life changing exercise, adding validity to the phenomenon that has been giving women (and men) the bodies they've been aspiring to since 1959.
The barre method is a 55 minute program combining strength, cardio and flexibility while taking inspiration from ballet and pilates to ensure you reap only the most crucial benefits from your exercise regimen. Say hello to a lifted butt, flat tummy and lean, toned arms and legs. And, with easy to follow sequences, there's no need to be a former prima ballerina to enjoy barre.
In fact, for those who are rhythmically challenged (ahem), you're in luck because despite what you may have preconceived about barre, it's not actually like a dance class. Think leg lifts, ball squeezes and weight bearing isometric exercises (performed to the beat of epic motivational tunes) and you have yourself an all over body conditioning workout. And, if you're a HIIT junkie, don't let the lack of cardio scare you off. Rest assured, post your first 55 minute barre class you will be feeling the burn.
How does it work?
Isometric contractions make up the majority of a barre sequence. This is when the muscle length remains the same for the duration of an exercise (think plank). These types of contractions are the opposite of those typically performed during strength training exercises, where the muscle stretches and then shortens quickly (think bicep curls). The benefit of performing an isometric contraction means that postures are able to be sustained for longer periods and research has proven that during prolonged muscle tension, the reduced blood flow to the muscle tissue actually stimulates them therefore, increasing muscle mass. Bingo.
Crunches are so yesterday
That's right. Said isometric contractions mean even those tiny little muscles you never knew existed are getting a work out. Whether you're working your arms, legs or tummy, your core is always engaged and you will be strengthening muscles that are often underused and underdeveloped from performing dynamic and isolated movements (like sit-ups).
So you can finally say goodbye to those dreaded crunches and start saying hello to defined abs. Yes please!
I've heard that barre can help to elongate my muscles giving me a dancer's physique. Is that true?
Not quite. Barre classes often have a strong focus on strengthening the core, which in turn results in an improved posture and reduced risk of injury. Combine this with increased flexibility through focused stretching and you will begin to appear taller and leaner over time.
Is barre as life changing as people make it out to be?
It's a bold statement we know but if you pay attention in class and have the motivation to put what you learn into practice, barre, as a form of exercise, really can be life changing. Each of the movements performed during a barre class require strong mind/ body awareness which is an important aspect for avoiding injuries and learning your own personal limitations. The isometric contractions you perform during class can also be implemented in your every-day movements, helping with postural alignment and muscular definition. The more you practice, the easier this becomes and soon, you won't even have to think about it!
Similarly to yoga, barre also initiates a required presence in order to perform each posture and this can work as a form of mindful meditation, aiding in mental clarity and increasing endorphins, ultimately making you a happier person.