BARRE is the latest ballet and fitness phenomenon that has hit gyms and studios across London (and fast gaining popularity around the world, with classes popping up across Europe, the Middle East and Australia) vaying from BarreSculpt and BarreCardio to Bootcamp Barre. With a celebrity following, from fitness trendsetter Madonna at 51, to rock star, Mick Jagger at 69, this workout not only demonstrates an attraction for the “Barre Body” but a key place for this workout in our fitness culture.

There is a fascination and a pupose toward building a dancers physique but does it work?

History of BARRE Barre has its roots in the Lotte Berk Method. Lotte was a Jewish dancer who fled Germany to London in the 1930s during the Nazi era. During her performance career, Lotte suffered a back injury ande decided to combine her dance training with rehabilitative therapy to target areas of strength and flexibility. She designed exercises known as “the peeing dog” “the French lavatory” and “the prostitute” (as she was in an era where ballet was condisered a profession similar to prostituion.)

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The method became so popular, as a program of body transformation and dance conditioning, personalities like Joan Collins, Barbara Steisand and Yasmin Le Bon have pursued her method since her studio opening in 1959.

What is BARRE?

BarreConcept describes barre as a workout combining the precison of pilates, with the moves, grace and technique of ballet, alignment of yoga and strength from sports conditioning.

What are the benefits of BARRE?

Barre is a low impact, high intensity workout. It combines strength and interval training to burn fat, build muscle and improve cardio-vascular fitness. Small isometic contactions are taught in the exercises to exhaust major muscle groups to create a change in muscular strength and enduarance. Stretches after each strength section re-lenghten the muscles to create long, lean muscle tone in proportion to your natural body shape than bulk which can happen using free weights.

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A common response i hear and nicely pointed out by Kelly Osbourne, “Its incredible to start getting muscles in places on my body that i never knew i could get. I really do love my body now”. The Evening Standard wrote how specialist Barre studios recommended doing 3-4 one hour classes a week is so effective that anyone should be able to get “ballet buff”. The best part of Yoogai is that you can choose a lunch and evening barre classes, and then watch again through the recordings! And its not just a workout as Gillian Reeves, national group exercise manager at Virgin active says there is a sports science behind it.

Barre improves balance, power, flexibility and motor control skills enabling a body that is re-aligned, rebalanced and works harmoniously and efficiently. Who can attend BARRE? This workout is for everybody as various adaptations are given througout the class to suit all the students abilities. Barre is as beneficial for men as it is for women. The class works on lower body strength as well as upper body strength, something men do not often focus on. Thanks to the principle of perfect posture, it’s ideal if you spend hours slumped over a desk, lugging a handbag or the weight of a small child around on a daily basis. You may even find youself leaving class a few inches taller!

What to expect in a class?

First, do not fear this class, you do not have to be a dancer, co-ordinated or in shape to start and neither do you have to wear a tutu or painful pointe shoes (though your welcome to try). The focus is on sculpting and redefining the whole body. The session focuses on the whole body to gain definition in the abdominals, arms and legs. There are sequences at the barre (a handrail traditonally used for Ballet warm up exercises) to support your body and place emphasis on the thigh and seat muscles (glutes). Work here, tends to be on a “high stiletto” (the alternative to pointe). Light weightlifting with dumbbells is used to target biceps, triceps, chest and back muscles.

We end on the yoga mat or in floor work to focus on abdominals, though the core wil be engaged during the entire class. The cool down will be a series of stretches to increase flexibility and allow the muscles to recover. You may see eric prydz hip thrusts, constant pillow squeezing with your knees and all of these have a surprisingly quick effect on the tautness of your thighs and glutes. Preparation for your home barre gym and class It is easy to recreate the exercises at home. You can make you own homemade and creative versions, using a chair or shelf as your barre, tin cans or water balls as your handweights and bathroom towels for squeezing actions.

If you have the equipment, we sometimes include hand held weights to bring the burn during all the reps, yoga mats for targeted core work or a soft pilates ball to engage the muscles in the lower body. Feel free to wear anything you find comfortable and can move in. Yes to yoga wear, shorts/ leggings, sports bra, tank/t-shirt and as much colour as you desire! The class is in barefoot but if you have a carpet, grippy socks can help to prevent slipping.

Why should I come to BARRE?

FitnessMagazine.com featured Lincoln, who opened her first Barre studio in 2008 and said Barre was beecoming increasibly popular because of the recession, ”Many of us discovered during hard times that we craved smaller and more connected classes. We needed a place where we could balance our bodies and get prepared for our busy and stressful days.” I believe that you can find this with Yoogai and hope you will gain the same sense of support as we share the common goal of being fit and healthy, and you can tell me how you feel in your new found Barre Body!

 

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