Are you cooped up in your desk all day long and troubled by aches and niggles? Barre is one of the solutions to all those problems. Why? Because the beautiful combination of dance exercises, yoga, and Pilates is tailor-made for an age when many of us spend hours together hunched over mobile devices and staying put at our desk chairs. The reason why Barre is becoming insanely popular is because it is all inclusive.
The fact that it is not very intimidating makes it a favorite for people who are scared of intensive workouts. There is something very graceful and non-threatening about the tiny moves of Barre. There are numerous benefits of Barre exercises including core training and cardio intensity.
Top Benefits of Barre Exercises
Much of the work in a Barre class, involves small movements done in precise ways. It might look like such a workout can hardly give you a challenge, but it can wear out even a fit person. The idea is to target specific muscles such as transverse abdominals, inner thigh, and obliques, which do not get much attention. It might look easy, but it is quite an effective workout.
- It helps you build your strength: The isometric moves which complete a Barre class are a wonderful way of building your strength. It occurs when the muscle tenses but does not change its length. What is unique about the one-inch movements is that you can hold a posture and the continuous movements can not only benefit your body, but with each tiny movement, you get a chance to recover so that you can stay and do the exercise for a little longer.
- Barre moves impacts all your muscles: It’s a highly effective workout and is also the fastest way to gain muscle as you do two to four moves. These are holding, stretching and pulsing, all at once. Since you are working on more than one muscle at a time, it brings up your heart rate up considerably.
- It increases your concentration levels: You are more in tune with yourself, each tiny movement makes you more aware of your body and the unending things it is capable of doing. The Barre workouts activates the muscles, especially the ones which lie underutilized. It helps improve upon the activation of muscles like the neuromuscular, or the connection of the body and mind.
- Amps up the endurance: The repeated moves bring your heart rate up and also bring up your endurance levels. The constant strength training also helps with increasing your heart rate and endurance. It is fast paced and there are short breaks in between to catch a breather.
- It is not boring: Fun and excitement are hardly something you associate with fitness. But Barre exercise is exciting as dance moves are made a part of this workout. The ambiance is also great and beckons you towards its universal appeal. So you will make it a point to come back again and again.
- Weight loss: The Barre exercises hit the thighs and glutes, which are the largest muscle groups of the body. It burns more calories and also helps
- Build long lean muscles: As you progress further, you will amp the metabolic rate, which produces more energy and hence in the process, burn more calories.
- Strengthen the core: Whichever exercise you are doing in Barre, you keep engaging your core. You need to tighten your core and keep your belly button in, strengthening your core in the process. A strong core helps you perform your everyday activities without a hitch. You perform all your chores with ease, right from playing a sport to lifting something heavy off the ground.
- Reduces the appearance of cellulite: Getting rid of cellulite is no mean task, only aerobic activity can do that. The exercises blasts fat like no other. It helps shape up your lower body and burn the excess calories. So if you want to fit in your favorite pair of jeans, build your calf muscles or simply build a firm booty, Barre exercises are the way to go.
- Makes you more flexible: If you are one of those people who watch ballet moves in wonder and wonder whether you ever be able to imitate the graceful moves, you will be excited to know that Barre can help you do that. Barre moves ensures you stretch your muscles, elongating them, reducing the fat and restoring balance and alignment.
- Work on your bones: Barre workouts are all about strengthening your muscles. The small movements which offer resistance to the muscles impact the bones, making them stronger and help combat osteoporosis at the fag end of your life.
The 6 Important Moves
Barre is great for shaping your body. Another thing that works in its favor is that it does not use any expensive equipment. A few hand weights, stretchy bands and balls are what it takes to start practicing the Barre moves. So start right away and follow the moves to the T.
1. Lunges with ball
This is a great exercise for building your glutes and hamstrings. It will strengthen and tone your body and provide great results. It’s an amazing muscle building workout.
Facing the Barre, keep hands shoulder width apart and feet parallel, hip width apart. Roll the shoulders back and maintain a long spine. Bring the right knee up into the chest, lunge with the left leg and send the right leg behind. From here, tighten your left glutes to lift back to standing, bringing the right knee back into the chest. Try to focus and lift and lengthen upwards with control. Throughout this exercise keep the spine extended, keep the core engaged and take care not to hunch forward.
Do up to eight lunges, eight pulses at the bottom, then hold at the bottom and bring the right knee forward eight times.
Repeat the sequence twice on each leg.
2. Ball behind the knee
This exercise tightens and tones up your entire body, and helps develop some mean muscles.
Face the Barre, then keep a slight bend in the elbow and a soft hold on the Barre. Place the ball behind the right knee and bend slightly in the standing leg. Square the hips to the Barre and draw the tailbone under. This is an isolation exercise, so keep the shoulders back and down, core engaged and remember to keep your torso still. From here, extend the right leg behind, tightening the glutes at the top (see then draw the knee back in.
Do about eight single repetitions, hold at the top for eight counts, eight pulses. Two rounds on each side.
For an extra challenge, add on exercise three without a break.
3. Rotating Side Plank
This barre exercise helps to work on your obliques and side waist.
Start with a forearm plank position, and then turn your hips in a way that they’re stacked on top of each other, facing the left side, with your right forearm on the floor and the left hand on your hip. If you’re lying on a mat, make sure your forearm is parallel to the edge of the mat. Pulse the hips toward the ceiling until you begin to feel the burn.
Then, reach the top hand up and twist the body toward the floor, working your top hand through the space between you and the floor, while maintaining your side plank position. Return to the starting position and pulse the hips upward, then repeat. After 2 minutes on one side, come back to a center plank and then turn to the other side.
4. The Barre Pass Press
This Barre move helps to work on your quads and tone your legs.
With one hand, hold onto something for support, like the back of a chair or a countertop. Start in the position with your legs in a wider stance than hip-width stance and your toes turned out, and then bend your knees into a deep plie, trying to get your thighs parallel to the ground. Then, come up with a figure four position, bring the outside leg up, toe to knee, leg turned out. Keep the outside arm in ‘high fifth,’ or raise it above the head.
Repeat for eight counts, moving from second position plié to figure four, and then perform another set of eight with the inside foot or rise so you are on the ball of your foot. Repeat on the opposite side.
5. The Barre Back Attitude Move
Work on your glutes, quads and hamstrings with this Barre move.
Make sure you have something for support near you. Hold onto something for support with both your hands, like the back of a chair or a countertop, and turn towards it. Bring your feet to the first position or heels together, toes turned out, and knees softly bent. Take the left leg back behind you into one position, with the raised leg bent, keeping the leg as parallel to the floor as possible.
Extend and bend the raised leg for 8-16 counts, then pulse the leg upward for 8-16 counts, keeping the leg out directly behind you. Try and round it off to a curtsy, bringing the working leg behind standing leg, so that the ankles are crossed. Flow back and forth between a curtsy and a figure four position for 2 sets of 8 counts. Repeat on the right side.
6. Tone Thighs Move
This move works on your inner thighs and legs, and helps you achieve a toned and slim look like a ballerina.
Start by facing the back of your couch or a sturdy chair, rest your hands on the support and place your feet wider than your hips. Bend your knees and hold it slightly, ensuring the knees aren’t locked. Turn out your toes, knees tracking over the middle toes, hips squared and keep your core engaged. Drag the right heel towards the left foot until feet are together and you’re standing tall.
The next is to step out with the left foot until you’re back in the wide stance position with your bent knees. Start drawing your left foot back towards your right foot until you’re standing tall. Then, step the right foot out to the right until you’re back in the wide stance pose. Repeat the back and forth exercises for 60 seconds. If you find this easy you can take it to an advanced level by working on your balance by doing this exercise without the support. It is an authentic ballet Barre workout.
Doing it Right
All those who are new to Barre might find it a little slow at first, but rushing across all the moves may not give you the best results. So what should you really do? Follow these tips to get the best out of these Barre moves.
- Don’t be afraid of the quivering muscles- When you are holding a particular muscle, the large and small muscles both get taxed, particularly when you hold the muscles during a contraction, you might feel your muscles shaking. But then you don’t have anything to get scared of as you are building up strength and endurance. Remember if you do feel a slight discomfort, then you need to stop right away.
- Listen to your body- When it comes to Barre exercises, you need to take it slow and gradually move towards advanced levels. The moves might seem simple but sometimes the simple moves work best. Also never sacrifice form, as it is better if you do fewer repetitions than do more repetitions at the cost of form. So the modification is the key.
- There is nothing like stretching- After a grueling workout, stretching is the best way to go, as it relaxes muscles and releases the tension.
- Hydrate yourself- It is very important to keep yourself hydrated throughout the workouts and have a meal comprising of protein, carbs and fat immediately after a workout, to refuel and energize immediately after a Barre ballet workout.
Don’t tell me you never thought of gliding like a graceful swan and stared wistfully at Natalie Portman in the movie – The Black Swan! We always watch fascinated whenever we see a graceful ballerina showing his/her graceful moves, breathing life into the dance with their almost liquid limbs. Barre comes pretty close to that and what’s more is that you also shed the extra calories while doing those moves.
Additionally, it is not even as complicated as it looks. You have a great time at the studio, a Barre class or at your home and by the end of a few sessions you end up losing more than a few pounds, not to speak of the shapely body you’re likely to flaunt! So tie up your ballet shoes and get ready for an invigorating session of ballet Barre workouts.