If you’re new to fitness and looking for a beginner-friendly workout that won’t put too much stress on your joints, you should consider trying barre.
It’s a low-impact fitness regimen that combines elements of both ballet and pilates.
Many of the exercises are done at a ballet bar, which is how this popular workout class got its name.
Barre exercises are slow and controlled, just like pilates. For most of the class, you’ll only move your muscles an inch or two at a time, but you’ll leave shaking.
The small, isometric movements will target muscles you didn’t even know you had and work them to exhaustion.
And because the exercises won’t move your joints through their full range of motion, you may be able to do them even if you have arthritis or chronic pain.
Now that you know a little bit more about barre, let’s talk about what results you can expect if you attend barre classes regularly at Pure Barre or other studios, or if you follow along with a video at home.
After your first month of barre workouts, you may notice that you feel more relaxed and connected to your body. You might also lose a pound or two if you adjust your diet.
If you stick with pure barre for a few more months, your balance, posture, and flexibility will improve. Your muscles will also start to get toned and you’ll develop more stamina, which will make it easier to power through hard workouts.
You may also notice that you aren’t as susceptible to injury and have fewer aches and pains.
To dive deeper into the benefits of barre, I spoke with a few fitness experts. Here’s what they had to say.
Taking a barre class is a great way to relax and destress.
Workouts like barre release endorphins, which boost your mood and energy levels. The effects of these hormones can last for up to a day after your class.
Barre can also help you be more mindful.
Studies have shown that performing repetitive movements like yoga poses and barre exercises can relax you as much as meditating.
The small, controlled moves you’ll perform during class require intense concentration, which can help shift your focus from your worries back to the present moment.
Although barre workouts won’t get your heart pumping as fast as running or cycling, they can still help you lose weight.
However, barre does burn some calories, which can aid weight loss.
Caryn Campanelli, co-owner of Forged Soul Fitness, said that pure barre “…still burns calories which helps create a calorie deficit that can help someone trying to lose weight when paired with good nutrition.”
(The key phrase here being “when paired with good nutrition!”)
You’ll burn 255 calories in an average barre class, which is about the same as walking at a moderate pace for an hour.
So if you attend classes a couple times per week and watch what you eat, you may be able to shed some pounds.
Barre classes can also help improve your muscular endurance and stamina.
According to Kelly Bryant, certified personal trainer and experienced barre instructor:
“At a barre class, you can expect to use low weights (or no weight) and perform high reps. The focus here is muscle endurance. Some classes are more cardio-intensive, and some are more focused on slow, and controlled specific movements.”
Most barre exercises are isometric, which means they strengthen your muscles without noticeably changing their length or moving your joints.
These movements are great at increasing your stamina because they mainly target slow-twitch muscles, which play a big role in muscular endurance.
So after a few months of taking barre classes, you may notice that you don’t tire out as quickly and have an easier time getting through tough workouts.
If you’ve never taken a barre class, you may think that moving your muscles an inch or two at a time couldn’t possibly strengthen them.
But the small, isometric movements involved in barre are extremely challenging and will work your muscles to fatigue even if you’re a seasoned athlete.
A study in the Journal of Applied Research showed that doing isometric exercises for just 6 minutes works your muscles as much as using traditional weight-lifting equipment for 30 to 35 minutes.
Most barre classes are about an hour long, so you can imagine how much your muscles will burn after your first workout.
Because barre classes target every major muscle group, you’ll also get a true full-body tone-up.
Going back to Bryant:
“Barre is an incredible way to integrate the use of every muscle in the body. This full-body workout tends to give people a more toned physique. Some of my female clients enjoy this component because there is no risk of ‘bulking.’”
Bryant also told me that barre targets areas many people are looking to improve, like their thighs, butt, stomach, and the back of their arms.
So if you want to get that toned, athletic look you’ve always wanted, barre is a great way to do it.
Improved balance and flexibility
One of the main benefits of barre is that it will improve your balance and flexibility.
Most barre exercises have a balance element. One popular move called a passé balance requires you to balance on one leg on your tiptoes.
At first, you’ll definitely need to hold onto the bar to perform exercises like this. But over time, you’ll feel more stable and be able to stand on your own without relying on the ballet bar.
Barre classes also incorporate lots of gentle stretching, which will help loosen tight muscles and improve your flexibility.
Better posture and fewer injuries
Many of us have bad posture from sitting at our desks all day. This can cause muscle imbalances in our hips, shoulders, and back.
But barre can help correct those imbalances and strengthen muscles that are important for maintaining good posture like your abs, chest, shoulders, and glutes.
Barre instructors also place a lot of emphasis on aligning your body correctly and maintaining proper form, which can help prevent you from slouching in your everyday life.
After a few months of classes, you may also notice that you have fewer aches and pains and aren’t as prone to injury.
Muscle imbalances can lead to chronic pain, so correcting them could help relieve your aches.
Barre exercises also strengthen the muscles that stabilize your joints, which may improve hip and knee pain and make you less vulnerable to injury.
And even if you haven’t been able to strength train in the past because of joint pain, you might still be able to handle barre classes.
Because the moves are mostly isometric and don’t move your joints through their full range of motion, they’re lower impact and easier on your body than other types of strength training.
But remember to check with your doctor to make sure pure barre is right for you before you start.
If you’re looking for a full-body workout that will strengthen and tone your muscles, barre definitely fits the bill.
The isometric exercises will challenge your muscles and work them to fatigue without putting stress on your joints.
Barre can also help prevent injuries and improve your balance, flexibility, and posture.
But if your main priority is burning calories, it may not be the best choice.
Barre only raises your heart rate to half of its maximum and burns about 250 calories an hour.
So if you really want to improve your cardiovascular fitness and shed pounds quickly, make sure you incorporate more intense forms of cardio like running and cycling into your fitness routine.
Barre also won’t get you jacked — you’ll want to try more traditional weight lifting for that. But it can help you get quite toned over time.
Overall, barre is an excellent low-impact workout that’s beginner friendly and guaranteed to drive great results if you stick with it.