Taking a barre class can certainly be intimidating. Between the small pulses, bends, squats and stands, accented with two or three-pound weights, there is a lot to keep track of.
But is a 50-minute workout routine combining “little bend, extends,” “tucks” and small pulses actually healthy? INSIDER asked the experts for guidance.
First off, what is barre?
You may have heard your friends talking about barre class or tucking grippy socks into their bags, but if you’ve never been to a barre class, it can be shrouded in mystery.
Of course, every barre class will be slightly different, but generally, barre class consists of small movements, done next to or on a ballet barre, as well as a mat. The movements are designed to target and strengthen areas of your body that other exercises may not necessarily do.
By design, Barre Classes, “isolate, sculpt and strengthen every major muscle group in the body through small, low impact, targeted movements inspired by dance, yoga, and pilates,” explained Rachelle Reed, barre Kinesiologist with Pure Barre.
If you don’t normally separate your exercise routine into “arms days” and “legs days” and cardio days, this all-encompassing workout can be a major plus, and Reed, points out, you don’t actually need any dance or fitness experience to start a barre routine: All barre classes can be adapted to various fitness levels, ages and shapes. The goal being to “work toward achieving a toned, dancer-like physique through simple positioning and movements.”
Barre class can be a good option for beginners and is generally low-impact
Dr. Michael Smith told WebMD that because of the small movements, this type of workout can be a good option for those who are just starting to craft their workout routine.
“Barre fitness is ideal if you’re just getting into exercise,” Smith told WebMD. “The classes will improve your balance, build strength, make you more flexible, burn calories, and improve stability through a stronger core.”
Even if you struggle at first, it will get easier, Reed said.
“After each barre class, you’ll experience some acute health benefits of exercise, like improved feelings of energy, reduced blood pressure, increased joint mobility, and a clearer mind. After a couple months of regular attendance, you’ll start to notice some positive changes in your body, including improved muscular strength, better flexibility, weight management, reduced feelings of stress and anxiety, lower risk for chronic diseases, and improved sleep,” Reed said.
She notes some clients do barre up to six times per week, though three-four days in studio are recommended, with at least one rest day per week.
“Giving your body rest between strength training is important to allow for optimal muscle recovery,” Reed said. On off days, Reed suggests going for athletic walks or finding another way of moving for at least half an hour each day.
To avoid injury, Physical therapist Jennifer Monreal also recommends ensuring you have enough time to stretch, asking instructors to check your alignment, and, of course, knowing your limits and not pushing through too much pain. Those with specific injuries or joint problems should request modified routines.
Experts seem to agree barre is healthy (at least healthier than going to a bar)
Several personal trainers INSIDER asked about the health benefits of barre said it was healthy, though they noted that it was a “beginners” exercise class.
While there are certainly better workouts for some people, exercise and personal wellness is determined on a case by case basis. If it works for you, it works for you.
If barre is the only workout class that’s getting you to use your yoga pants for more than binge-watching, then yes, experts seem to agree that it’s healthy.
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