Why Barre

I’ve been wanting to write about this for a long time. The concept of “barre” seems so exciting and mystifying and the workout itself is just that. The word barre is both a noun; the french version of the bar we use in ballet and the “product” name we give this new workout as in yoga, and now a verb; like yoga, you can both go to barre and “do” barre. Although one might argue the idea of “I barre”, the idea is still there not unlike “googling”something. But what is barre?

Without tracing it’s roots all the way back to 1959 and an amazing woman named Lotte Berk, let’s just look at what barre is in today’s world. A barre workout is a fusion fitness class that includes ballet warm up exercises, some ballet stretches, some yoga stretches and some minor Pilates moves. The workout utilizes small weights or no weights at all and all with the tiniest movements you can imagine. It targets the endurance quality of your muscles helping to tone the body without building bulk. Due to the stretching elements in a class, the results become long, lean muscles. The workout is postural first, meaning that the class targets the muscles that support the back and spine first as well as throughout the whole class. Because of this changes can be seen in the posture within the first 3 classes. The class is also very efficient as, unlike most fitness classes, this one works the entire body while “focusing” on one area. For example, while “working” the biceps (the front part of your upper arm) the calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes, abs and back muscles are all engaged and working delivering a full body workout that burns almost twice as many calories as some traditional style workouts. All of this leads to quick results that can be seen in your silhouette in as few as 10 classes.

It’s a workout that is sweeping the nation! 10 years ago you could only find barre classes in small boutique fitness studios like Assets but due to it’s growing popularity big box gyms, yoga studios and even spin studios are offering their version of a barre class. Is all barre alike? No. Most boutique fitness studios have their roots in Lotte Berk and understand the basic techniques but it’s easy to find people creating their own version of a barre workout with the focus on either the bar itself and/or the ballet elements that are attached to it. Actually, many studios do not even use a bar in their barre classes. But my personal pet peeve is all those that miss the whole point of the basis of a good barre class. It has been said (because Lotte Berk and her followers said so) that it is the safest workout you can do. Since it’s true origins are in therapy and recovery and support for the spine, the movements were originally combinations of ballet and orthopedic exercises. But one can not just “do” the exercises and be safe. One, meaning you, has to be in correct form and the only way you can be in correct form is if someone is paying attention to you. Traditional fitness classes are “lead” by an instructor at the front of the classroom who is doing the class themselves and giving the participants cues for their positioning and movements but without being next to each participant you can not control, or even know, whether they are in proper form. If you can not make sure they are where they should be, you can not keep them safe from improper alignment or poor and dangerous movements. And it’s not just the safety feature, for the class to be truly efficient and effective, constant attention to the participants (we like to call them students) gets them to their goals much more quickly. It is our teacher’s responsibility to make sure that every move you do is performed properly and challenges you beyond what you think you are capable of.

So get out there and barre to your heart’s content, find your shake, but most importantly do it where someone is paying attention to you, helping you, encouraging you and making your barre experience transformational.

Costumer service is amazing. I felt welcomed and very informed on my first day. It felt like I had been there for many years. My instructor was very helpful. The environment was so relaxing that I went home energized! And the workout is outstanding.
Laura V.