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What Is the Barre Workout and How Much It Can Benefit You

What Is the Barre Workout and How Much It Can Benefit You

There’s no doubt that many a millennial seems to be hitting a healthier bar nowadays, and that’s barre with a double r and an e. At about $20-30 per barre class, this fitness rage makes tall claims. Anybody can join in, irrespective of age or fitness level and can see a difference in the body in just five barre classes. Sound too good to be true? Let’s find out the truth behind this new fitness phenomenon and separate the facts from the fiction.

What Exactly Is a Barre Class?

Anyone who’s ever done ballet is familiar with the ballet barre – which is just a fancy name for a stationary handrail that gives additional support while doing warm ups. The barre class workout did originate from ballet – or rather an injured ballerina back in 1959. Lotte Berk was a German ballerina in London who hurt her back and so decided to open a rehabilitative studio based on her dance routine. Often the studio was frequented by the likes of Barbra Streisand. Lydia Bach, a student of Berk’s brought this to America in 1971 and now there are plenty of offshoots and “styles” of the original, though the original closed in 2005.

The barre class workout is ballet-inspired. You begin with some mat exercises that target your core and abs, and then move on to the barre to do a dance-inspired workout that targets your arms, shoulders, pelvis, hips, and legs. Here’s a sneak peek into what makes up barre classes:

You Will Look Great by Doing the Barre Workout

Choreographed to upbeat music and custom-made to suit a person’s age and fitness level, the barre workout can be explained as a mix of ballet, Pilates, yoga, and dance. While it’s not a workout meant to sweat you into a mindless puddle, it will make those muscles quiver like leaves in a storm. Here are the many pros of taking up a barre class:

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It works the muscles but is considerate to the joints

Barre workout strains the muscles with small, super-controlled movements known as “isometric movements”, but whilst your muscles may quiver and shake with the effort, (which you are supposed to positively embrace) it’s gentle on the joints and has a low risk of injury.

Barre workouts help increase flexibility and strength

Many strong people are as stiff as boards. (Think muscled hunk not being able to touch his toes!) A barre class gives you both flexibility and strength. Its small, quick pulse movements work the muscles but also stretch them in a focused manner, making you stronger and far more limber than before.

They help you lose weight and inches

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Since barre workouts target muscles and work them beyond fatigue, you burn calories. In fact a barre class will burn more than 200 calories for sure. Some promise to reach the golden number – 500! Coupled with a healthy diet with little to no sugar, barre can help you lose weight and more importantly redistributes the inches on your body to give you the best shape possible.

It targets muscles and builds endurance

The movements of barre are isometric in nature, targeting specific muscles and moving them without the usual expansion and contraction. The muscles will tense but not change length. This allows you work out muscles like never before – the reason why you feel like Jell-O at the end of a barre class.

It’s exercise, but with a meditative effect

The small but continuous movements in a barre class make you very mind and body aware. Since most classes keep changing their routines, the physical and mental awareness you get from doing it can nearly parallel mediation! Another plus is that once you know the moves, you can do them at home, too.

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But If You Think It Can Replace Conventional Workout, It May Not Be the Case…

Anything that makes you move is good, right? Anything that gets your blood pumping, your muscles moving, and your body grooving is healthy for sure. That said, if you are looking for a particular kind of benefit then it’s good to know what an exercise can and cannot do, so here is what doing barre will not do for your body.

It’s not a great cardio workout

While a barre class does leave the muscles begging for mercy, what it doesn’t target is the heart. A barre class does not an intensive cardio session make. While it may tone you and take off a few extra pounds, it may not make for a great fat-busting session. However, remember that all bodies are not made the same way and it just may prove to be a great weight loss workout for you.

It does not give you functional strength

If you are looking for a workout that increases your body’s functional strength – the kind that helps you lift heavy weights and run up the stairs without breaking into a sweat – then barre may not be the class for you. Isometric movements increase flexibility and endurance and so a barre class will make you a great marathoner, but not necessarily a sprinter.

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You may flat line your fitness progress

A barre class does not require lifting heavy weights or pushing beyond your endurance, so after you’ve done a few months of it that magical weight loss, muscle quivering, and increase in strength and stamina will plateau. To become stronger, you have to challenge your body constantly, aiming towards higher and higher goals and obstacles, which tends to stop after a while in barre unless you have an instructor who is constantly challenging himself or herself to make the best barre workout ever! It can get boring with the same repetitive routine.

All in all, barre is a good workout – especially if you are starting a fitness program, looking for something fun to do, or even recovering from an injury or illness. It’s also a great “in-betweener” in case you’ve just finished an intensive bout of weight training and are stiffer than a surfboard! It’s also a good idea to pair a barre class with another workout. Alternating strength or cardio training with barre will ensure that you get the flexibility of barre with the cardio or functional strength of an intensive workout, giving you the complete workout that’s best for you!

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Rima Pundir

Health, Wellness & Productivity Writer

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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