Barre fitness classes are surging in popularity across the country as women of all ages discover the challenging, fun, and effective ballet-inspired workout. But it may be intimidating to try something new, especially if you aren’t sure what to expect or if you don’t have experience with dance, yoga, or organized exercise classes.
“What I love about barre is that it’s an efficient, intensive, full-body exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility, and balance,” says Antonella James, a Core Fusion barre instructor and studio director at Exhale Spa in New York City. “You walk out of a barre class feeling replenished and refreshed. It’s a feeling of real accomplishment. When you do this type of exercise on a consistent basis, you walk differently, you eat better, you drink more water. It does wonders for the psyche and the body.”
James realizes that barre can be intimidating for someone who’s unfamiliar with the workout. Even with a background in dance, yoga, weightlifting, and martial arts, James’ first class was a challenge. But soon, the workouts began transforming her body, and her life headed in an entirely new direction.
We tapped James for some thoughtful advice about how you can make 2016 the year you finally step up to the barre.
- Show up. It’s all about showing up and doing your personal best. Just getting yourself there is half the battle. “It’s a very challenging method, but it is progressive, and you have to start somewhere,” James says. “Listen to your body and go to your own max. Do it for yourself, not for anyone else.
- Be patient. James suggests taking barre classes at least three times per week for one month in order to see results and become comfortable with the workouts. After that month, reassess your goals. “Every new change takes time,” James says. “With consistency and patience, you’ll notice a difference. Once you see results, that becomes its own motivation.”
- Talk to your teacher. When you’re new to a class be sure to show up about 15 minutes early and introduce yourself to the instructor. Tell him or her if you have any limitations, such as an injury or some other health issue or concern. This way, the instructor can watch your progress, help you with goals, and offer any necessary modifications.
- Practice at home. You don’t need to go to a studio to try barre exercises. While formal instruction and a studio stetting are ideal, you can practice at home using anything that is countertop height. Try using the back of a chair, for example.
- Enjoy the journey. It’s important to remember that while setting goals and making resolutions are great, barre is about much more than dropping pounds or perfecting a form. “A barre class is not a competition,” James explains. “It’s a journey and a learning experience. You aren’t just challenging and conditioning your body. You are finding out who you are and what your inner strengths are. Many people find that they are a lot stronger and more resilient then they think.”
Gear Up For Your Goal
Get ready to plié and tendu your way through the new year. Here’s what you need to get started:
- Socks with a grip. Socks are required in many barre classes for sanitary reasons. Grip socks are ideal for helping you stay balanced and perfect movements. These Calia Footie Grip Open Socks are the perfect combo of style and function.
- “You want clothing that hugs the body,” James says. “I suggest leggings over shorts because you will be doing splits and straddles.” These Zobha Cosmo Printed Leggings have a wide, flat waistband that won’t cut into your midsection plus mesh panels for breathability.
- A comfortable tank top. Pair your leggings with a tank top that will keep you cool and give you lots of room to move comfortably. Tanks designed for weight training or yoga often work well. Nike’s Dri-FIT Knit Tank Top is a great choice, thanks to its sweat-wicking fabric and seamless construction.
- A simple mat. While much of your class will be spent at the barre, segments for stretching and core work at the beginning and end of class will likely take place on a mat. Many studios provide or rent mats, but you may prefer to bring your own (or have one for home use). A simple yoga mat, like this one from Gaiam, will give you just enough cushioning with 5 millimeters of thickness.
- A water bottle. It’s vital to replace the water you burn off during a barre session, which is why you need to hydrate prior to, during, and after class. Tote a CamelBak Eddy 25-ounce water bottle to the studio to ensure you get the most out of your workout.