Barre workouts are all the rage in the the US and they deserve to be over here too according to expert trainers. We bust the myths about barre, explain its strengthening power and examine why it gets results so fast
Sweary, stressful, ‘beast mode’ workouts have been hogging gym timetables and headlines for a while now, but how about if you didn’t have to slog it on a treadmill in a darkened room to get fit and strong in relatively little time? Low-impact yet incredibly effective, muscle-sculpting workouts are just as powerful as any bootcamp, which is where barre comes in.
Barre hasn’t thus far gone ‘mainstream’ in the way that it has Stateside - there are studios aplenty in the US, but over here it’s still more of a niche workout style. No longer if the leading authority on barre in the UK, Barrecore , has anything to do with it. Founder and expert instructor Niki Rein has perceived that there are some recurring misconceptions around barre workouts on this side of the pond, and she’s keen to do some demystifying and myth busting as to why it’s probably the most intelligent exercise method there is. Put the drill sergeant punishment aside for a moment, along with visions of tutus (zero tutus, unless that forms part of your fitness wardrobe), and brush up on why barre isn’t just a ballet class, why you don’t always need to sweat buckets to get stronger and how just a few barre sessions will have you discovering muscles you never even knew you had.
It’s far from just prancing
Many people assume that barre is essentially a ballet class without the frills, lifts or end of term exams - not so according to Barrecore’s experienced expert trainers. Sure, you’ve got a ballet barre to work with and the likes of deep pliés are included to get thighs burning, but the unique method incorporates fat-torching interval training with functional stretches to increase flexibility, and despite the low-impact nature of the workout, it’s tough. You won’t be gasping for breath but muscles will shake like never before and it's this ‘shake’ and ‘burnout’ that triggers incredible results. The high repetition movements that cause this muscle burnout create a hormone reaction that has you melting fat for up to three days post-class, and to add to that I swear that barre is the only workout that has helped me to grow an ab or two, which makes sense because…
It’s probably the best core workout there is
Each workout is ‘choreographed’ to focus on thighs, seat and upper body strength, but the core burn is like nothing else I’ve tried yet, in a good way. The focused movements and reps work muscles to exhaustion and you’ll be nailing planks and bicycle crunches in no time, seeing definition and increased strength super quickly too. You don’t need to start as an expert, however, as classes are meticulously tailored to suit every fitness level and the one-to-one attention is almost unprecedented as far as group fitness goes…
There’s a PT level of personal instruction
If you’ve ever gone through the motions of a class with a trainer barking at you from a darkened distance, this is not that. Not by a mile. Barrecore instructors generally have a professional dance background and receive over 200 hours of training in the company’s academy to master the class format and specialised techniques, and they’re second to none when it comes to tailored teaching. If you’re struggling with a move, need modifications based on your individual ability, an injury or because you’re pre or post-natal, they’ll be right over ensuring you get the most out of each and every class. They’ll be looking out for you in the next session too. The classes bring together the energy and motivating environment of communal workouts with the dedicated approach you’d get from a personal trainer. Which means that…
It’s a workout that works for everyone
A barre habit will see you burning fat, powering up muscles and improving your posture (the core work works wonders there) but you don’t need to be super fit or coordinated to start with. While it’s a high intensity workout, the low-impact nature of the classes means that it places minimal stress on joints and it could even help you to iron out niggles and recover from injury. Regular barre-goers report improvements with back issues and resolution of RSI, and the fact that the injury risk is low to begin with means that you’re far more likely to be able to keep your barre workouts consistent, meaning that you see the results you want even faster, whether that’s weight loss, muscle strengthening or simply a clearer head.
You can also narrow down your needs by mixing up your classes - Barre RESTORE is designed to relieve tension, quiet your mind and lengthen muscles by way of deep stretches and myofascial release, while Barre ADVANCED takes things up a notch if you’re a long-term barre devotee. BarreLITE is a more technique focused option if you're new to the barre, if you're looking to tighten up your technique and get a deeper burn in your regular classes or if you’re coming back from injury, BarrePRENATAL is custom built for pregnant clients and BarreHIIT adds an additional cardio element to get blood pumping. BarreEXPRESS does what it says on the tin if you’re pressed for time and BarreSCULPT brings in more resistance work if you’re working on muscle tone in particular. In short, there’s far more on the menu than the signature barre class, which is why...
Barre ain’t boring
There are no DJs or flashing lights and classes have a familiar flow, but that doesn’t mean they’re samey. Instructors from a variety of backgrounds bring their unique experience to the barre while choreography, equipment and moves vary every.single.day. There’s a belief that barre simply involves doing a few bends and pointing your toes but this couldn’t be further from the truth - you’ll use weights, props, resistance bands and your body weight in all sorts of wonderful ways and combos, as you would on the gym floor, just with less jostling for machines or showboating.
It’s a 360º thing
You’ve got the endorphin rush from upbeat music and getting your body moving, but every class also ends with a chilled out stretch and savasana session to leave you feeling calm and focused. If you’re looking for a new workout to fire you up before the working day or unwind after it, it delivers on both counts thanks to the balanced class structure. Also, the community vibes are uplifting, whether you crave a social element to your workouts or not. You’re quite literally never alone and supported through every stage of where you’re at physically and mentally - if a particular exercise isn’t working for you, there’s always an alternative and class atmosphere is empowering rather than competitive. You’ll be welcomed in rather than sized up, which has an enormous payoff for both body and mind.
Sure, pro dancers, models and celebrities have been rocking up at the barre for years, but it’s got benefits for every one of us - you don’t need to be skinny, to be able to touch your toes or be part of a clique. No one will swear at you either - you don’t need that negativity in your life. Time will tell whether barre becomes really big in Britain as it has in the USA, but Barrecore’s enormous growth since the first studio launched in 2011 (there are now thirteen and counting nationwide) indicates that it’s gaining ground and for good reason. I grew an ab and I reckon so can you.
This feature was written in partnership with Barrecore