Hello, blogosphere! After a hectic stretch of final exams, I’m back and ready to dive further into this whole blogging thing. Over the past few months, there has been a recurring question I’ve received from friends, classmates, and co-workers that I would like to tackle in this post: what is barre?
Barre has been my workout of choice since I started working the front desk of a local studio in Minnesota, the barre, during high school. During my sophomore year at UW-Madison, I went on to actually instructing barre classes for a few months at The Barre Code. This summer, I started working as their social media intern and continue to take classes regularly. Needless to say, I love barre and all the benefits it has provided me both physically and mentally.
First off, I’ll do my best to explain what a barre workout is and what it involves (DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a health professional). Traditional barre classes are inspired by the ballet barre and its benefits to a dancer’s physique. This inspiration formed the basis of the typical barre workout: fatiguing targeted muscles from head-to-toe by using light weights/resistance but heavy repetition, which results in strengthening AND lengthening your muscles. If done right, you’ll find yourself involuntarily shaking in a thigh series or feeling a super intense burn in others… that’s the fatiguing- the part that challenges and changes your muscles. On top of this unique form of muscle toning, barre provides other physical benefits like improved balance, foot and ankle stability, flexibility, and posture… making the physical results of ballet barre accessible to anyone. the barre (located in Wayzata and Edina in MN) does a great job of educating about these health benefits and helping clients achieve their physical goals.
All of these physical benefits are a major plus to the barre workout, however, there is a much larger, more important type of benefit that it offers: mental. Like I said, barre aims to fatigue your body. In a barre class, the workout almost always challenges you mentally- you may often find yourself questioning whether or not you can hold a pose any longer, sink your plié down any lower, or crunch any higher. However, with the help of a great instructor and other strong women alongside you, you realize that you CAN do it… you CAN conquer any negative thought; you CAN push through whatever obstacle is holding you back. You find that mind-body connection in a barre class. This philosophy is where The Barre Code comes in. I was introduced to The Barre Code Madison last fall, and after I auditioned to be an instructor, I quickly learned of the very special approach this company takes to the barre workout. The Barre Code does a fantastic job at educating clients on anatomy and what clients are strengthening, but any comments or ideas about body aesthetics are never mentioned… like, ever. Their mantra echoes the importance of self-love and inner strength (see video below), which is über cool.
(Side note: The Barre Code is a franchise and has a bunch of studios around the U.S.- check to see if there’s one near you!)
An additional comment I’d like to make about The Barre Code is that you can find so much more than just “barre” at this studio. The Barre Code not only offers strength, but cardio and restoration too. This fact made The Barre Code my primary workout environment, because they offer classes that meet all your fitness essentials. Whether it’s breathing heavy in a HIIT class, punching it out in Brawl, or finding zen in BarRestore, there are SO many options that allow you to do whatever your body and mind need.
Finally, one of the biggest, most pressing questions I get from people about barre is whether or not you need to be a dancer to do it… Absolutely not! Remember earlier, when I said that barre is ballet inspired? Key word: INSPIRED. Anyone can take a barre class. Many of the amazing instructors I know have never danced a day in their life! You don’t need to be unusually flexible or coordinated to do it, and it never gets “easy” for anyone. I think those stereotypes prevent a lot of people from trying it out, but no one should be afraid to. The nice thing about barre is that you can constantly find modifications or challenges to cater the workout to your individual needs… all on top of providing you with a tribe of strong, inspirational women to rock those classes with.
So with that, go forth and barre hard. 🙂