How barre is breaking through the fitness scene

20 April 2017 by
First published: 15 September 2016

Want to try something new for your workout but don’t know what? Here is why you should try barre…

Originally created by Lotte Berk in the 1930s as a method of rehabilitation for a dance injury, barre has been around a lot longer than you think. But recently, it has made a massive comeback into gym studios across the land. This could be because anyone, literally, ANYONE is capable of being great at barre.

This is because it focuses on isometric contractions only: when the muscle tenses under resistance but doesn’t change its length. These contractions require much smaller and more precise movements than a standard cardio class. This means that anyone of any age or ability can do it – as it doesn’t strain the muscles anywhere near as much as a concentric contraction, which is what the body does for day-to-day movement. Barre is for any level of athletic competence, and non-dancers can achieve the exact same level of stamina and flexibility as a pro.

Catie Miller, founder and trainer at Xtreme Barre, says: ‘One of the great things about barre is that the ballet aspect of it gives those who are new to dance the opportunity to move in ways that they are not used to, offering a sense of freedom and release, and gradually improving your posture and best of all, your mood.’

The aim of taking a barre class is to lengthen your muscles, so that you can achieve the body of a dancer: flexible, strong, but slim-lined limbs. The class is a combination of ballet, Pilates and yoga, with a dash of cardio, all done with a ballet barre (hence the name), where you use your bodyweight as resistance to strengthen the core of your body. While you won’t leave your class drenched in sweat, you will definitely feel the ache in the morning.

But don’t think of it as an intense form of yoga. Most barre classes are dance inspired and set to upbeat music to give you more energy to do the routines, with larger classes so that you can help each other along. There are also hundreds of different variations of exercises, so each class will always keep you guessing.

Founder of Heartcore Barre training and celeb trainer, Jess Schuring, said: ‘the best thing about barre is that it works fast without you realising. The targeted training means you have less of a lactic acid build up, meaning you can train more times a week. Many clients have said they feel results within a week, see them in as little as two to three, and major changes happen to their body after a month.’

Focusing on specific muscles, rather than just trying to raise the heart rate to burn calories, results in giving your limbs the treatment that they need to not only relax, but elongate. If you spend hours hunched over a desk, barre could be perfect for stretching the knots out of your back and shoulders.

What’s more, the type of regular stretching done in barre classes has been shown to increase the production of collagen, the protein which helps with firming and toning, so any problem areas that you might have will be sculpted and chiselled in no time.

In a barre class, it is not about survival of the fittest. The key ingredients for success are good positioning and alignment. This is what will get you the best results. If you decide to go, you should expect to see a lot of clenching of glutes and instructors telling you to keep pulling your belly button in toward the spine. So don’t be scared to go in case you can’t keep up, because barre is adjusted to everyone’s specific abilities to make sure you get the best results.