A Call To The Barre

Any budding Darcey Bussells out there, or am I alone in dreaming that one day I may dance on stage, in tulle and en pointe. Alas I didn’t go to dancing classes as a child, instead I opted for riding lessons – which I loved, but it didn’t stop me looking on enviously as my school friends tripped off to their dance schools, swinging a little pink bag carrying those, oh so special ballet slippers. If you too, still have unfulfilled aspirations then you may be interested in a different type of exercise class that is spreading rapidly throughout the Country – Barre Fitness. This is a hybrid workout class combining ballet inspired moves with elements of Pilates, yoga, dance and strength training. The majority of these classes will incorporate a barre and static stretches. The real difference between Barre and other workouts is the isometric movements that you will perform. This means holding your body still, whilst you contract targeted muscles until you feel the burn. Sounds fun – so in the interests of this column I decided to take part in a session.

The warm up was a mixture of push ups, tricep dips, planks and stretching before we moved over to the barre. I did approach with some trepidation as I am not as flexible as I should be (which is one of the reasons I was there). All Instructors, at any class, will always offer alternatives so if you are new and not able to do certain movements, then there will be other things you can do. I must confess that I did feel the mental benefit of working at a slower, controlled pace but do not think slow equals easy, it was certainly challenging and my muscles soon fatigued. During the leg work, I found my legs shaking, this is a sign that the targeted leg muscles were working hard and is the required result you are aiming for. After focusing on the legs and glutes we ended up on the mats targeting the core, more shaking of the abs but a great sense of achievement. This was all finished off with some yoga inspired cool down movements. I wore stretchy exercise wear but don’t wear baggy clothing as your Instructor needs to see your form (technique), a fitted vest top and leggings are ideal. You won’t be wearing trainers plus regular socks are not suitable, as these could cause you to slip, so check first with the Studio. The Studio may sell socks with special grips on the soles or some will allow bare feet. As with all classes do not expect to know all the moves straight away, it always takes time to learn anything new; the important thing is to stick at it.

Barre fitness is a full body workout and because it is low impact it is ideal if you are recovering from an injury – obviously let the Instructor know, it that’s the case, so that they can modify any movements for you. There are hundreds of different variations of exercises which can be done both on and off the barre; therefore, no two classes will be alike which is great to keep your muscles guessing. Barre Fitness is a great class to incorporate into your Fitness regime. It is important to include weight bearing workouts too, with impact, to help create strong bones. As with nutrition – keep your exercise well rounded and incorporate all the benefits from the different types of workouts – strength, cardio, flexibility. I will certainly be back to take part again and hope to regularly slot Barre Fitness into my exercise regime.