Are Barre Workouts Good For You?

Are barre workouts good for you?

I receive this question a lot, to which I usually answer, “it depends.”

As you know, I recently went through a certification course to teach barre classes. As a Pilates instructor and former dancer it seemed like the natural thing to do. I was looking for a way to incorporate more variety into my teaching and bring new workouts to you here on The Balanced Life.

One of the main reasons I decided to pursue my barre certification was to bring a smart, safe, effective perspective to the barre fitness world.

If you’ve taken barre classes in person you may have noticed that they vary greatly from studio-to-studio and teacher-to-teacher. This is true for most forms of exercise, but as the barre trend is on the rise (Xtend Barre, Floor-Barre, Pure Barre, BarreConcept, Barre Method, Barre Boot Camp, Physique 57, Barre 3, etc.) I think it is important to make sure that we are being smart about our approach to these kinds of workouts.

Barre classes are ballet-inspired workouts that were originally pioneered by German dancer, Lotte Berk in the 1950’s.

I chose to complete my certification through Balanced Body because they are known for following intelligent, safe, protocol while still providing great results.

As former dancer, I know that ballet movements can be hard on the body. And as an instructor, I hear of clients dealing with pain and injury from barre class when they were simply trying to do something good for their body.

So my tips for a safe, effective barre workout are inspired by my training through Balanced Body and the creator of Balanced Body Barre, Zayna Gold.

Tips To Avoid Injury In Barre Class:

1. Avoid the tuck.

For many barre-devotees the first thing they think of when they think of barre class is “tuck! tuck! tuck!”. This is the idea of tucking the pelvis underneath you just like you would do in ballet.

This is one of the biggest areas of concern when it comes to barre class. Excessive tucking can lead to overuse injuries and aggravate your back, hips and knees.

Instead (as you’ll hear me cue in my videos) keep your spine in neutral, your lower back long. You will still get great work from the exercises and will avoid long-term damage.

2. Modify the exercises for your body.

Classes can be great for energy and motivation, but they can also lead you to push yourself too far. Avoid the temptation to “push through the pain”, keep up with the person next to you and ignore the cues your body is giving you.

Approach barre just like you would Pilates; with mindfulness, awareness, precision and control.

This may mean a lower releve, less turnout, or smaller knee bends…the modifications will be unique to your body.

3. Bigger is not better.

I know we all want to look like beautiful ballet dancers, but let’s be honest, some of us just don’t have that kind of body.

So rather than focusing on kicking your legs as high as you can or squatting as deep as you can, focus on the proper form and position and work within your own healthy range of motion. You’ll actually see BETTER results when you’re working with proper form.

If you contort your body for the sake of bigger movements you’ll miss the specific muscle groups that will lead to a stronger, more toned body.

4. Don’t forget the core connection.

Just as you would in Pilates, focus on maintaining a stable core. Draw your abs in and up, or envision a corset wrapping around your waist as you perform each exercise. This will keep you safe and strengthen your abs at the same time.

5. Find a qualified instructor who uses smart cues.

If your instructor is only yelling at you to push through the pain and feel the burn, you may want to find someone new. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the burn! Just make sure your instructor is also teaching you how to move safely and listen to your own body.

Stay tuned…I’m planning a lot of exciting things for 2015 and there will be more online barre classes coming your way soon!



PS – If you’re looking for online barre workouts you can do from home be sure to check out The Sisterhood!

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  1. Brenda 6 years ago

    Thanks for the tips Robin! One that really resonates with me is listening to my body and not comparing to the person next to me! Looking forward to more barre classes from you!

  2. Alicia B. 6 years ago

    I highly recommend checking out a Dailey Basics (or Dailey Barre if you’re more familiar with alignment cuing) class at The Dailey Method if you’re looking for a safe, effective, challenging barre class. The founder (Jill Dailey, hence the name) places a huge emphasis on alignment FIRST, then engagement, then movement.

    Of course, classes still vary from instructor to instructor, but the core principles highlight the importance of never pushing past the point of proper alignment and finding control and intention with every range of motion.

    And, yes, I am an instructor (in California) – but I can attest to the incredible training programs and continuing education we receive.

    • Robin Long 6 years ago

      That is great to know! Thank you for sharing Alicia! I would love to try a class sometime. 🙂 xo

  3. Erin 6 years ago

    Thanks for the tips, Robin! As a fellow former dancer, it’s going to be so hard to break the tuck habit! But everything you said about it being terrible for your body makes total sense.

    • Robin Long 6 years ago

      You’re welcome Erin! And I do want clarify that not all tucking is bad, but tucking excessively can potentially lead to some problems. And it is possible to still get great work and a great burn using neutral spine and safe alignment! xoxo

  4. Adie 6 years ago

    Thank you so much for this information, Robin! I have really enjoyed the barre workouts you included in Pilates 4×4 and I can’t wait to see more. I have struggled with awful sciatica for the last 8 years or so and finally feel great from all my Pilates. I would love to dive into barre more too, but want to make sure I don’t undo all my progress with unsafe moves. Thank you for giving some great guidelines on what to look for and for more barre on the way.!

  5. Laura 6 years ago

    Having trained in 4 barre certifications, there is no way I would take a course that worked in the ‘tuck’. I have found most Pilates based barre certs do not teach in a tuck because of what you can do to the back and it can also make the thighs bigger working in this position and after all, isn’t barre ‘supposed’ to elongate the thighs! I have some out of state friends that went to the ‘tucking’ barre studios and all of them got bigger thighs and didn’t thank me for the recommendation. They all went to the same ‘big franchise’ one as well. I haven’t trained in Balanced Body but know Zayna Gold and she is an amazing trainer.

  6. Z 6 years ago

    Thanks so much, Robin! I’ve been doing barre for about a year in addition to my weekly pilates. The instructor that I had in the beginning was also a pilates instructor, who emphasized core strength and focus (it was great!). The woman who took over from her treated the class like it was Zumba, and not only did I injure myself but the speed and her yelling really stressed me out. It’s too bad you don’t live in Toronto!

  7. andrea 6 years ago

    I have been doing barre3 classes online since having a baby. I have really liked them, felt they were low impact. Do you have any experience with barre3 and if so what are your thoughts about their classes?

    • Robin Long 6 years ago

      Hi Andrea! I haven’t tried Barre3 yet. I’ll check it out! 🙂

      • susan 5 years ago

        Hi Robin,
        I’d like to know if you ever got a chance to try out the Barre3 classes mentioned above? if so, you’re take on them?

  8. Rebecca 6 years ago

    Hi Robin,
    Just wondering if barre classes are helpful for ballerinas. Or would the differences be counter productive.

    • Robin Long 5 years ago

      I definitely think they are good for ballerinas! Great to balance out your musculature. 🙂

  9. […] #2: Are Barre Workouts Good For You? […]

  10. Brynne 5 years ago

    I love barre3 too. They advocate every point you mention in every class I’ve taken. Definitely worth checking out.

  11. […] – You may also enjoy these posts: Are Barre Workouts Good For You? and My Fitness […]

  12. Dawn 5 years ago

    Thank you, Robin! This article is perfect. I am a Pilates Studio owner who offers Barre classes and Barre Teacher Training, as well – and I am constantly fighting the word “tuck”. I appreciate your clear and concise insight and hope that more Barre Certification programs and studios start to understand the issues involved with tucking for 60-minutes and pushing the body too hard. Thank you (again!) for this article. 🙂

  13. Lisa Farriss 5 years ago

    I have done pure barre now for 2 weeks and my back is hurting so bad!! And they work in the tuck position. Any thoughts on pure barre?

    • Author
      Robin Long 5 years ago

      I don’t want to say anything negative about a particular company – but I will say that they teach the tuck and I recommend finding studios or teachers who emphasize neutral spine for this exact reason – frequent tucking leads to back pain. Which is so frustrating when you’re trying to take care of your health in the first place! 🙂

  14. Aylen 4 years ago

    Thanks for the tips. I was so worried when I started experiencing lower back, and hip pain. It was my first time trying the class.

  15. Ruth Ziegler 3 years ago

    Thank you for this information!!! I am a classical ballet teacher and Stott Pilates instructor. I am on a life long crusade to help dancers and non-dancers work safely.

    In the dance world, we are working very very hard to finally get rid of the idea of tucking. It JUST DOESN’T work. And, as you state, it can lead to injury. I am certified in the Progressing Ballet Technique, and also take continuing education courses provided by well respected dance medicine organizations, such as IADMS. I still encounter teachers who are still entrenched in this very outdated mind set. So frustrating!!!

    Keep up the good work, and keep spreading the correct information!

    Happy dancing to you!

  16. zeky 1 year ago

    thanks Robin really enjoyed the class and the info o barre work outs . I do like the combination

  17. Jill Bradley 1 year ago

    Hi Robin! I’m looking forward to more Barre workouts to offset the difficult floor pilates, lol. Love the Barre, I think even more! Thank you! Love, Jill, Woodway, TX.

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