Barre workout is an exercise regimen that is sweeping the fitness industry. What makes barre workout so special? It is unique because it promises a dancers body and grace. It is a ballet inspired workout that incorporates classical ballet techniques and movements to give you a sculpted body. Barre workout adopts traditional ballet exercises and blends it with Pilates and yoga to result into an effective fitness programme.
Barre workouts are performed with the help of the bar (wooden hand railings) for support, stability and balance. They can even be practiced within the comfort of your home using a sturdy chair or near the kitchen counter top. Initial lessons will focus on postural strength and alignment.
Benefits of barre workout
Barre workout bestows a dancer's physique without actually having to learn dance. Barre workouts follow isometric training method using one's own body weight as resistance. This workout incorporates various ballet exercises to target all the major muscle groups and works towards achieving long and leaner muscles.
Barre workout also improves flexibility and core strength. It allows you to enjoy excellent posture and aligns your body. Barre method is a high energy and low impact workout which gives quick results. As it is a low impact workout, risk of injury is rather low. It burns fat and firms up the body. Barre workout, unlike other fitness programmes, tones the muscles without adding mass to the body.
Barre workout session
Almost all barre workouts begin with simple warm up exercises. Then it slowly progresses to free weight exercises and then to intense leg, arm and abdominal exercises using classical ballet positions. Barre workout incorporates various exercises to target different muscle groups. These exercises target the thighs, abs, upper arms, abdomen and calf muscles. All the exercises end with stretching to elongate the targeted muscles.
Five core positions of barre workout
Barre workout consists of five core positions from which all the basic movements begin and conclude. It is essential to master these core positions before beginning the barre exercises. A brief description of each of the position is given below.
First position: Stand straight with head, shoulders, spine, hips and legs aligned in a single line keep the feet turned out, both the heels touching each other and toes pointed outwards forming a triangle between the feet.
Second position: Keep your feet apart facing outwards and leaving a shoulder length gap in between the feet.
Third position: Both feet overlap each other with front foot touching the mid region of the back foot.
Fourth position: This position is similar to the third one but a gap of one foot is left between both feet.
Fifth position: Place feet towards same direction. The toes of one foot should reach the heel of the other.
Body should be kept erect while standing on each of these positions.
Basic movements of barre workout
Though each studio follows their own barre routine, the basic movements remain same. Some of the movements are discussed below.
Plie: Plie is a very basic and important movement of the barre workout where both knees are bent keeping the back straight. Barre workout always starts with plie as it stretches all the muscles and prepares the body for the rigorous session.
Plies are of two types - demi plie and grand plie. In demi plie, knees are bent half way whereas grand plie involves complete bending of knees. Exercises using plie will work on your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves.
For performing a plie, stand erect taking the second position. (Legs opened to the sides and toes turned out). Begin to lower yourself and bend your knees, make sure to keep the knees in line with the heels. Hips and back should remain straight.
While holding this position, you can move your hips few inches back and forth for 10 repetitions. Slowly rise up. You can also work on your shoulder muscles while on plie by raising both the arms, instead of holding on to the barre. Open your arms to the front, with arms facing down and remain in this position for 20 seconds.
To do a grand plie take a first position and come to plie position. Then continue to bend your knees and let the heels rise off the floor. Keep your hips above your thighs and in line with your feet. Remain in this position for 20 seconds. Slowly allow your heels to rest on the floor and get back to the starting position. Grand plie can be performed using second and third positions to add variation to the routine.
Releves: Releve involves rising up on the balls of your feet and then coming in a plie position. Exercises using releve work amazingly on calf muscles. To perform releve, take the first position, keeping the back straight, pulling in the stomach and hips in line with the back.
Lift your heels off the ground until you are standing only on the balls of your feet and slowly lower yourself bending your knees as though you are seated on a chair. Perform 15 to 20 repetitions, each holding for few seconds. Now bring back your feet to second position and repeat the releve again for 15 to 20 reps.
Grand battement helps in strengthening your hips and legs. It also develops a sense of balance. There are two more movements called battement tendu and battement degage that precede grand battement. Mastery over these moves will help in performing grand battement to perfection.
Tendu involves pulling out the working leg wider against the supporting leg without toes leaving the ground. Degage is similar to tendu, but here the working leg is lifted an inch off the ground.
To perform grand battement, stand with straight legs, with your left arm holding the barre for support. Take a third position. Keep your left foot firm on the ground and lift the right leg to your front bringing it to 90 degrees or even higher, now raise the right arm in the air. Depending on the balance and flexibility you enjoy, close the working leg in fifth position. Hold a position for each set for 5seconds and do 5 – 10 sets per exercise.
These movements of the barre workout, practiced over a period of time, will fetch a flawless figure with improved core strength and balance.
Barre workout tips
Ensure that you wear comfortable breathable workout wear. Don't go in for shorts but instead pick up a ballerina type of outfit, one that goes well with the hot music and moves. Get yourself a good pair of socks as the workout is often performed with socks, those that absorb sweat and have good traction. You can even pick up Barre workout socks with grips on the bottom.
In a few weeks, you will see a leaner sculpted body. A Barre workout adds density to your muscle fibre and your body will burn calories all day long. Enjoy the relaxing and invigorating moves and stretches.