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.
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!