Barre changed my life. Literally changed my life! When I decided to get certified in barre I had no idea what life had in store for me. I had already fallen in love with barre as a student and was looking to broaden my expertise as a fitness instructor. Upon completing my certification I learned that I was expecting and I couldn’t have been happier. It’s funny how things work out: I wound up teaching through my entire pregnancy (up until a week before delivering!) and the experience really helped me to have a greater appreciation for movement and my changing body both pre- and post-pregnancy.
What is barre?
Many people who have taken my class assume walking into the studio that barre will be an easy workout. Before we begin, some even consider it their light day for working out. The response I have gotten post workout, however, is actually the exact opposite. Barre is a challenge and definitely transforms the body! Mores specifically, the textbook definition of barre is “ballet-inspired workouts that utilize a ballet barre.” Now what is barre to me? I consider it a dynamic and challenging way to engage the entire body not just physically, but mentally too. The most amazing thing about this style of fitness is that it can be taught in so many different ways. I like to teach my classes with a bit of a challenge and intensity. Women (and men) who may not have considered utilizing unique fitness tools like the gliders and resistance bands I introduce in my classes to shake things up become hooked! Barre challenges the body in a unique way, zeroing in on those smaller muscle groups. The majority of classes mix elements of pilates, dance, yoga, and functional training, all with motivating music. It also offers a sense of community and built-in accountability partners. I have even found students bonding with one another as they count through the reps with me. Friends are made before my eyes. It’s actually a beautiful thing to see.
Mind and Body Benefits
The amount of confidence that I have seen shine through some of my students is incredible! I often hear things like:
- I work out all the time and I don’t see a difference, but barre is my game changer.
- Barre has helped me set personal goals like wearing a sexy dress to my next high school reunion.
- I couldn’t fit into this dress before but your barre classes helped me! Look!
No matter what the goal, big or small, many of my students are on their way to achieving what they have set in mind and are feeling good about themselves while doing it!
As we age, we overlook the simple daily tasks that can potentially become difficult without proper exercise and nutrition. I have a 50 plus grandmother who takes my classes religiously. She couldn’t do a sit up or hold a plank before taking barre as she suffers from back pain and vertigo. Now she is one of the strongest individuals in my class. She is proof that through consistency and truly pushing yourself each session you will see your strength change.
Personally speaking, I was blessed to be able to teach barre my entire pregnancy and because of that I have been an active mom since day one. It was important to me to be able to be out and about with my son, showing him the importance of being physically active and enjoying fresh air regularly. Barre allowed me to transition back to a regular fitness routine effortlessly and increased my postpartum strength immediately. I even do resistance band workouts at home and find my son looking with amazement and curiosity, which motivates me daily. I always want to set a good example of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for my son and his future, and my involvement with barre is helping me do that.
My Top 4 Go-To Barre Moves
1. Relieve Bicep Curls
This traditional move offers so many benefits and can easily be spiced up with relieves! Using two- to three-pound hand weights, the class will perform a series of bicep curls while remaining in relieve (on toe). This takes a lot of concentration and focus, really tapping into the idea of mind over matter. Perform this move for 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
2. Planks with Resistance Band Tap Outs
This is one of my favorite moves! During the ab portion of my class I have students perform traditional planks but add a bit of variety by including resistance bands. After holding the plank for a specific duration of time, I have them perform alternating tap outs with resistance bands around their ankles. Planks can be done anytime, anywhere—it’s one of the reasons I love this move so much! Hold the planks for 30 seconds, performing 15 tap outs between each set. Do this for three sets.
3. Ballet Jacks
For cardio bursts, this is my go-to move! Starting in grand plie, the class will jack their feet in and out while keeping their arms straight out to the side at shoulder height. With each jack in, the hands come in to meet the chest. This helps to warm up the body and get an extra burn! Perform 8 to 12 reps for 3 to 5 sets depending on your experience level.
4. Grand Plie with Heel Raises
This is another traditional move that can be done with or without a barre, making it great for at-home workouts! While standing in grand plie (second position) your legs are wide with your knees turned out with a slight bend. I have my students lower the body to the point where they feel the muscles working. Once that is found, they begin to alternate their heels with with raise into relieve. (I even throw in few pulses and bands from time to time!) Execute this move for 8 to 12 reps for 3 sets.