If you haven’t tried barre yet, you are MISSING OUT! Barre studios are popping up everywhere, and for good reason.
Barre workouts target multiple muscle groups with small, isometric exercises. What does this mean? Building lean muscle with tiny incremented movements. Literally pulsing, squeezing, and tucking just a few INCHES will leave you shaking like jello, while toning your entire body. No wonder people are addicted to barre!
However, for beginners, barre can be intimidating. I’m here to debunk the stereotype that barre classes are only for dancers. Wrong wrong wrong! Barre is for every age, every background, and every level of fitness. What I love about barre is that it’s easy on your joints and is totally customizable to make it as hard (or easy) as you want it to be.
The key to a getting great results through barre workouts is to have the right form. As a barre instructor, it is imperative I correct my students’ form in order to target the right muscle groups and avoid injury. Here is a look at correct and incorrect positions and a short ‘trial barre’ workout for beginners, giving you a small glimpse of what you can expect at a barre class.
Here is a Barre 101 for beginners guide to help you barre like a pro!
When performing this thigh sequence at the bar, stand a half arms-distance away and high on the balls of your feet in a position called relevé. Then bend your knees to sink down into a seated position. Make sure your hips are stacked directly under your shoulders and your back is straight. You should not hunch forward toward the bar or lean back. Your hands should gently hold the bar, only helping to maintain your balance.
Another barre position is a chair sit with wide grip. Hold the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width and sink down as if you are sitting on a chair. Be careful not to lean back or jet your knees in front of your ankles. Notice the angle of my back in the second photo – this is correct.
The only time you will lean back in barre is if the instructor specifically asks you do to so, usually when you are in a position where your feet are directly under the bar and your hips are tucked up towards the sky, creating a diagonal with your body. That position may be referred to as a ‘water-ski’ position.
A term you may hear in a barre class is to “tuck your seat”. Tucking your seat is when you roll your hips forward, almost as if you are trying to tuck your pubic bone into your belly botton. When you bring your leg up and behind you to begin a seat/glute sequence, make sure you tuck your seat to eliminate any sway in your lower back. This position will help you target your hamstrings and your tush. It’s ok if you cannot get your leg up very high – tucking your seat to get a nice, straight back is key.
You may be asked to execute pushups at the bar. It is important to make sure you stand an arms-distance away from the bar and tuck your seat, making sure your body forms a straight line, like the third photo here.
While performing abdominal excerises during a barre class, be sure to keep your lower back cinched to the floor or mat. This is especially important when doing any ab work where your legs are off the mat. If your lower back starts to lift off the mat, bring your legs in – closer to your body.
Positions of the Feet
You don’t have to be a prior ballerina to master the positions of the feet during a barre class. The two most common positions are: First Position – heels together and toes apart, and Wide Second Position – feet wider than shoulder-width, toes and knees out to the side and heels in.
Beginner Barre Workout: Thighs
Do the two thigh sequences below and repeat three times.
Start a half arms-distance away from the bar or the back of a sturdy chair. Relevé high onto the balls of your feet and sink down into your lowest seated position. Then, gently pulse down an inch or two, and then pulse back up. Small, incremented movements. Repeat the pulse 20 times.
Beginner Barre Workout: Seat/Tush/Buns
Do all three seat sequences below with one leg before switching to the other leg.
Stand an arms-distance away from the bar or chair, roll up on the ball of your foot in relevé. Tuck your seat and lift your right leg off the ground, keep your hips squared to the bar or back of the chair. Pulse your right leg up 1-2 inches, then back down, keeping your knee straight the entire time. Really focus on keeping your seat tucked underneath you and squeezing your glute (butt cheek) on the way up. Do this 20 times.
Next, stay in relevé and keep your leg at the highest position you can, without arching your lower back. Slightly bend your knee just an inch or two, then flex your thigh (tighten all muscles) and straighten your leg as you stretch it long. Repeat this 20 times.
Last, bend your knee and draw your heel towards your seat, being mindful not to arch your lower back in an attempt to get your heel higher. You should still be in relevé (high on the ball of your left foot) and gently ‘kick’ your right heel towards your seat. This should be a very small, controlled movement. Repeat the kick in towards your seat and back out 20 times.
Just like any specific workout genre, taking a class from a trained professional will truly give you the best instruction on correct form, and the most accurate introduction to the world of barre.
Interested in trying barre and taking a class taught by me? Check out CarmelBarre for more info!
Have you tried barre yet? What did you like or dislike about it?