Attain a Dancer's Body with Ballet Barre Workouts
Pretty in Pink
"Every girl feels awesome wearing a tutu" were the words of my collage roommate wearing a pink fluffy skirt made of tulle for our Halloween party. While she twirled around in her ballerina getup, I couldn't help but question her statement. Sure I felt awesome wearing a tutu, when I was five. Even though ballerina costumes are beautiful, sparkly, and elaborate, wearing a tutu in my late twenties would make me feel more like Ke$ha which, for the record, would not be awesome.
If there is one thing I would want to steal from a dancer, it would be their legs. The long, lean limbs of a ballerina seem to be the envy of every woman, and thanks to ballet-inspired fitness classes, anyone can attain the body of a dancer, no tutu required!
What Is Ballet Barre Fitness?
Using a mixture of Pilates and ballet-inspired positions, these hour-long barre workout classes repeat very small movements in specific areas with the aim being to fatigue muscles to the point of shaking. Then the muscles are leaned out through a series of stretches, preventing any part of your body from bulking up. Most classes are set up like a ballet studio in which a ballet barre is found attached to the walls. Individuals use the barre for balance or for support to lean away in a certain positions. Small weights and floor work are also incorporated into some classes, so be sure to know what equipment your studio provides for clients.
Even though the room looks like a ballet studio, you do not need a dance background to participate. Low-impact exercises are taught to you during class and modifications can be made provided the instructor knows ahead of time. Men are also more than welcome into the studio! Barre classes are a great way for men to work on flexibility, coordination, and core strength.
Classes such as Pure Barre, Barre 3, and The Bar Method are becoming increasingly popular, and studios are popping up just about everywhere. Check your local listings to see if there is a studio near you, or check your gym schedule to see if your fitness center is offering any barre classes.
A Dancer's Body
With barre classes, you're guaranteed to get the body of a dancer by working muscles you never knew you had! With every extension and plie, your leg muscles will be toned and elongated. Arm muscles will gain definition while lifting small weights or your own body weight. Core strength is challenged throughout the entire workout, which will help pull in your waist, improve your posture, and relieve lower back pain. Stretches are performed throughout the class, preventing muscles from bulking up and giving you the body of a prima ballerina.
Tips and Pointers
Barre workouts may seem a little strange at first. The tiny movements and positions are typically not found in other forms of group exercise, and the instructor's cues may seem like a different language. But stick with it; You will know exactly what you are supposed to be squeezing and lifting in no time. Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind as you enter into your first barre class.
Wear socks with grips on the bottom – Most barre classes require that you wear socks throughout the class. Having grips on the bottom prevents you from slipping out of positions.
Set up near the instructor – As mentioned before, your first barre class will be very different from your typical aerobic class. Setting up near the instructor helps you see the demonstrations better and allows the instructor to keep a better eye on you for proper form.
Shaking is a good thing- Your muscles will shake like crazy. But don't be alarmed, muscle shaking means that the area is being forced to change by becoming stronger and leaner.
Stretch after class- You will stretch a lot during class, but that shouldn't stop you from stretching at home. Targeting muscles you do not normally work makes for a very sore body the next day. Stretching for ten minutes after class helps prevent soreness and stiffness.
Stick with your barre class three to four times a week, and you will see a difference in your body in as little as ten days. Before you know it, you'll achieve your ballerina body and may even find yourself tip-toeing around your house while listening to Swan Lake.
But please, let's leave the tutus for five year olds and eccentric pop stars.