Fitness Trend: the Barre Methodby Vicki Karigiannis
published April 15, 2013
The workout that unleashes your inner bunhead
Have you always wanted a lean dancer’s body, but have long passed the point of donning a tutu at ballet lessons? There’s a great new exercise trend that’s increasing in adepts, blending a fitness routine with ballet moves: it’s called the barre method. Curious to see what the hubbub was about, we went to Dita’s Pilates Studio in Montreal, and had a private class with owner / instructor, Dita Dolejsova, one of the few certified barre instructors in the city. Below, we’ve got an intro to the growing exercise trend, and our thoughts after our own attempts at the barre!
About the barre method
The barre method can be described as an amalgamation of ballet, Pilates, and yoga. It includes many of the basic ballet positions (first, second and third positions, plié, arabesque, etc.), along with repetitive butt, leg, thigh and arm exercises. The main prop utilized is a ballet barre (of course), but others, such as resistance balls, are also used to help intensify the workout.
The benefits of partaking in a barre-based workout are plentiful. Firstly, the workout tones and strengthens the body. Not surprisingly, since your core, arms, legs and glutes will get quite the intense workout. (You’ll be feeling the soreness—evidence of a thorough workout—once class is over.)
Secondly, with the fluid motions, you build a certain air of gracefulness. (Although you appear anything but during that first class!) The workout lifts and lengthens the entire body, improving balance, flexibility, and posture.
Aside from a few ill-fated classes at the age of six that this writer prefers to forget about, this was our first attempt at the barre. As big fans of the television series Bunheads, we’ve been itching to take a ballet-inspired fitness course, and this was the perfect opportunity.
After warming up our muscles, we jumped right into pliés. Sounds easy, you may think. We initially thought so, too. However, our hands gently resting on the barre and our feet in first position, we had to rise up onto the balls of our feet and then, backs straight, lower ourselves half-way down, and then lower our heels. And repeat, repeat, repeat. Dita apparently went easy on us; in her actual classes, students have to move more fluidly and quickly!
This was just one part of our entire routine, but a good example of the class’ intensity. But don’t refrain: “no pain, no gain” as the adage goes, after all, and you certainly get results if your goal is to burn muscle mass and tone your body. And we certainly walked a little bit straighter and taller after our class!