Step Up to the Barre

Don’t worry that you are not a ballerina. Don’t be intimidated by French words like plié and relevé. Don’t let age hold you back. If you appreciate a good workout, chances are you will enjoy a barre fitness class.

Technically speaking, a barre is the waist-level stationary handrail that is used in ballet training. However, in a barre class, using the barre is just part of the workout regimen. Barre fitness is a workout that combines ballet, yoga and Pilates to develop long, lean, toned muscle. A barre class uses small, controlled movements, not to create bulky muscles, but to engage and strengthen the muscles in the body’s core.

The barre itself is a prop to be used for balance while doing exercises during a class. However, it is not the only prop used in a barre class. Resistance bands, used while at the barre and on the mat, can strengthen muscles in the legs, arms and back. Small balls can help with stability and strengthening. Even light weights can be added to the routine. In many barre classes, the workout moves from the barre to the mat, where participants can do core work, like planks and leg lifts.

Elizabeth Brewer, owner of Mind Body Movement, prefers to keep her classes small so that she can tailor each class to the needs of her clients. She assists them in developing and refining the movements, while helping those who may have pre-existing injuries or limitations as well. The workout is most effective when the proper alignment and engagement is applied and the correct movements are made.

Barre appeals to and is appropriate for a wide range of people. It is currently a popular trend among 20 and 30-year olds, but it’s a great workout for any age group. Barre helps with balance, which people lose as they age. Even people with certain injuries, including back issues, can partake in this workout. A barre class is often a great supplemental workout for runners and athletes because the stretching helps to increase flexibility.

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