I was never meant to be a ballerina. Actually, I never made it through a single class due to my habit of bursting into tears each time my mom left the room as a child. This past fall I decided to embrace my inner ballerina by attending barre method classes. This workout is not like any physical activity I have ever experienced. Is it ballet? Yoga? Pilates? No. It is its own entity entirely. Of course I am no expert, but here is what I wish someone would have told me before I went to my first class:
Tiny Moves = Big Payoff
Barre method is unique in the way it works your muscles. Each move you do is meant to be so tiny that you hardly look like you are moving. In my first class I was convinced I was not doing anything worthwhile and almost walked out. Little did I know, these isometric movements target muscles that most other workouts do not. A friend told me they take care of the areas women worry about most: thighs, glutes, and abs.
All the exercises performed work each muscle group to fatigue which in turn strengthens the muscle. Stretches are performed to stretch out said muscles in order to help them recover faster. Each class is set to a playlist that coordinates to each exercise so you are constantly motivated and you forget about the burn that is beginning in your muscles. You may leave class on wobbly legs and be sore in areas you never knew existed, but be patient. After a few classes you will notice that the distance between your thighs is growing and your backside is perking up.
Each studio has an actual ballet barre that is used in class. You know the pictures you see of little girls in pink tutus all lined up with their little hands clutching a wooden ballet barre? That is what we are dealing with. Of course, you do not need to wear a tutu and leotard to class. Yoga pants and a tank top will do. The barre will become your best friend. You will rest your hands on it, pull off of it with you arms held straight, sit under it and pull down on it for ab work. The barre is essential. I still groan inwardly when an instructor tells me to “pull off the barre into a waterski position,” but have stubbornly come to appreciate this little piece of wood and how it has helped me.
Tuck those Hips!
In my mind, tucking your hips is the equivalent to hip thrusting. This action is performed A LOT in the course of an hour long class. Why is this an essential part of barre method? Simple! By tucking your hips you engage your core and make it stronger as well as strengthen your back muscles and improve your posture. By continuously tucking your hips you are working all these muscles and burning calories galore. Think of it as a more refined form of hip thrusting that gets you in shape.
Variety is the Spice of Life
No barre method class is the same. Each instructor, no matter what studio you go to, follows the main structure of the class but chooses which exercises they want to subject your body to. Your body does not anticipate what is coming next and is unable to settle into a routine. The more you can keep your body guessing, the more beneficial the workout. Once your muscles get used to the workout, all hope of them getting stronger goes out the window.
One thing all instructors have in common: they are incredibly motivating and helpful. I used to be embarrassed whenever an instructor would come over during class and adjust my legs or hips, but I realized they were doing this to help me. I was not going to get the benefits of the exercises by doing them wrong! So do not be self-conscious if you get a little help from a teacher; they want you to perfect your practice and who better than someone who lives and breathes barre method?
If you are looking for a way to spice up your routine find a barre method studio near you and go for it! Places such as Pure Barre, The Bar Method and The Dailey Method all offer special deals for first time students.
Do not hesitate to let them know it is your first time and they will welcome you with open arms. See you at the barre!
Have you ever tried the barre method?
Ivy is 22 years old and a recent graduate from Pepperdine University where she majored in English Literature and dabbled in creative writing. She left the beaches of Malibu, CA for the mountains of Denver, CO where she pursues an active lifestyle that includes running, barre method, skiing, hiking and the occasional (emphasis on occasional) camping trip. Her other passions include reading, fashion, blogging and cupcakes.
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