One of the hottest fitness trends right now is barre. Barre's history stems from move that are based on classic ballet (as if the ballet barre didn't give that away!) and it's no surprise that barre was developed by a ballerina back in the 60s. Since then barre instructors have branched off and developed many different styles and variations of the workout. The barre trend has definitely heated up in the past 10 years - and it's no longer a class just for ballerinas.
While the class definitely has it's roots in ballet, you do not need any dance experience whatsoever to reap the benefits of this fitness trend. The ballet barre is mainly used as a prop to help you support your body weight and target your legs and muscles in a way you haven't before!
So what's the difference between barre and your typical strength training class?
Barre uses a series of targeted, repetitive, low-impact movements. So as opposed to larger movements (think squats and shoulder presses with added weight), you'll perform tiny, one-inch movements called isometric movement using either your own body weight or light hand weights. (You will often hear your barre instructor say "down an inch, up an inch" or "short pulse" which will really help you target those long, lean, ballerina muscles!
Still not sure if barre is for you? We've found the top 8 amazing benefits to give this hot fitness trend a try!
1. It's for ANY fitness level - honestly, even if you have NEVER worked out in your life, you can still enjoy barre! Instructors (especially our amazing instructor Zosia!) are great at providing modifications to the moves during the class to suit your fitness level. In addition, due to the low-impact movements (ie. easy on the joints) this class is suitable for all ages to enjoy. At O WELLNESS we have everyone from 20-65+ enjoying our classes!
2. It's GREAT for rehab - again because these classes are low impact, they can be used as an intro back into fitness after surgery, injury or pregnancy (as a side note: barre classes are a great workout option for DURING pregnancy as well!).
3. Those tiny movements CAN help you get stronger - these isometric exercises are a great way to maintain muscle strength. You can hold a posture and benefit from continuously engaging the muscle, and you also get a mini-recovery with each pulse, so you can stay in the hold longer! Plus these isometric movements can help strengthen muscles without straining tendons or ligaments, so there is less risk of injury compared to more traditional strength training. Additionally you are typically working more than one muscle group at a time - holding, pulsing, and stretching all at the same time during each move.
4. Helps to develop a balanced physique and improves posture - so many fitness activities and sports can develop certain muscle imbalances, leading to poor posture and either pain or injury. Barre focuses on whole body exercises which help to correct these imbalances. Practicing proper posture is one of the main focuses in barre class. During the class you will hear our instructor remind you to keep your shoulders back and spine straight (which has the added benefit of making you appear taller!)
5. Two words - strong core - your core is a complex group of muscles that act to keep you physically stable. SIt-ups and crunches are definitely not the best way to work your entire core. However, during barre, no matter which exercise you are doing, you are constantly engaging your core (bonus!). Increasing your core strength is important to protecting you from injury and can prevent strain on your lower back (also super important during and after pregnancy).
6. No plateau - because our barre class is constantly changing, you are continuously "confusing" your muscles which helps to avoid that dreaded plateau. Also because you can easily modify any pose to make it more challenging you can continue to push your threshold. Focusing on smaller movements, adding more resistance or weights or increasing the speed of you workout are some easy ways to increase the intensity of your barre workout. No matter how long you've been doing barre classes you should still see "the shake" in every class - a sign that your muscles are indeed getting that workout!
7. Improves flexibility - every barre class includes some form of stretching. Most of us don't make enough time to work on flexibility! Maintaining your flexibility as you age is crucial. Without flexibility, simple things like picking something up off the floor or even turning over in bed can cause an injury. Stay younger by staying bendy with barre ;)
8. It's FUN - this is one of the main reasons women find themselves sticking with barre. Our studio provides small and intimate class sizes , but that doesn't mean you won't feel the energy vibrating through the walls with our instructor's amazing playlists! The atmosphere is positive and supportive - it's much more than just getting in a workout and leaving!