Is All the Hype About Barre Workouts Just Hype?

From the time I was a young girl, I always wanted to learn ballet, picturing myself pirouetting in a pink tutu! My parents were very supportive of my aspiration and put me in one ballet class after another. Unfortunately, I realized that I neither had the talent nor the stamina to be a famous ballerina, the heroine of Swan Lake, performing before an adoring audience. As I grew up, I got involved in various other activities, and ballet receded from my consciousness. But I never lost my love for dance, although after those first few failed ballet classes, I did not bother to try out any other form of dance.

It was about a year ago when I learned about Barre workouts. I was so thrilled to learn that anyone could do them and be good at them too. In fact, I was suddenly inundated with information about Barre classes and it seemed to be a form of exercise that was gaining a lot of popularity. I did sign on for these workouts and it has been a little over six months that I have been regularly working out using barre. I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to become fitter and more flexible. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what I have learned about this form of exercise.

The Beginnings

If you don’t already know it, these exercises are performed using a ballet barre or bar and uses classic positions of the dance form as exercise. This exercise form was developed in the 1950s by a ballerina, Lotte Berk, in London. Following a back injury, she realized that she could use her dance routines as rehabilitative therapy. Building on this idea, Lotte opened her first studio in London in 1959, which was later frequented by celebrities such as Barbara Streisand and Joan Collins.

It was Lotte’s student, Lydia Bach, brought back this form of exercise to the United States in 1971, opening her first studio in New York. Today, you will find a wide variety of choice when it comes to barre workouts and studios that offer them, with New York still leading the pack!

But Why Barre?

An article on Greatist quoted Nicole Bushong, DPT and physical therapist at the Center for Advanced Orthopedics and Advanced Medicine as saying, “You don’t need any dance experience — you’re not going to be doing pirouettes.” Barre does use classic ballet stretches and moves but you don’t need to have a talent for dance to participate. What the class will include is arm exercises, using the ballet bar for lower body exercises that are great for the thighs and butt, planks and push-ups, as well as moves that focus on the core muscles. What you gain is:

  • Strength — The muscle contractions and flexes will tone and strengthen your muscles. No, you aren’t really doing strength training but this is a great way to gain muscle strength. According to an article on Self, an online fitness resource and community, these exercises target each of the different muscle groups in the body and you build stamina and strength over time and with practice. In fact, in the beginning, take as many breaks as you need to whenever you feel the strain.
  • Neuro-muscular connection — Given the small movements that these classes are based on, it leads to a whole new level of awareness of your body that you are unlikely to gain through other workout formats. Experts even say that it enhances the connection between your mind and body.
  • Weight loss — Although this isn’t the key focus of barre workouts, given that your muscles are getting toned, you are likely to gain a leaner body and might even lose weight in the process. That should be a great motivator for a lot of people. It was for me!

At the same time, it is important to remember that while barre workouts offer a variety of fitness benefits, it is always recommended to make such workouts a part of a well-balanced fitness program. For instance, barre combined with yoga or Pilates or even strength training, which can offer greater benefits of a fitter and leaner body, according to a personal trainer at New York Health & Racquet Club.

The impact of the workout differs for different people, based on their body type and lifestyle choices. However, what I realized with my own experience of barre was that one also starts thinking of making healthier choices through the day over time. It has been a great experience for me and I hope it will for you too.

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