What is Ballet Barre all about?
Ballet barre is often defined as a combination of ballet-inspired moves with elements of Pilates, dance, yoga, mobility and strength training. During a class you can expect to use a mixture of classic ballet steps moves such as pliés, tondus, battements, while also incorporating well known exercises like the lunge or the squat, alongside static stretches. I just want to stress here that you DO NOT need any previous dance experience of flexibility.
A classic characteristic about barre is that it focuses on small range of movements but involves high reps. Think little lifts, little lowers, pulses and some isometric holds. The beauty about this is that it allows you to really get your mind into the muscle that you are working and exhaust it to the point of shaking/burning (don't worry it's not as scary as it sounds). Focusing on these smaller muscles has endless benefits as quite often they are muscles that may get neglected as our more dominant muscles tend to take over during a lot of workouts and movement. This is why you may often hear people claim that they have 'worked muscles they never knew they had'.
I could let you Google 'Ballet Barre' for hours but I want to explain my own personal opinion on why I think you should give it a go!
A great exercise component: Barre workouts can be a great option to integrate into your other fitness activities. It is perfect to pair with running, weight lifting, cycling etc. Barre will basically strengthen our core stabilising muscles, helping to build a great foundation and endurance for these exercises. I have been doing a lot of barre classes with males and the feedback I have been getting is that they love the mobility aspect and that it seems to still be a challenging workout as they work muscles in a way they could never do alone in the gym.
Low impact: Barre is a great option if you're looking for a low impact workout or recovering from an injury and trying to strengthen specific muscles. Since the movements are quite small and controlled, it will exert less stress on the body. It can also be a great prenatal and postnatal option. Many common injuries in higher-impact workouts may be avoided by building a strong core and lower body and proper movement form, achieved by integrating barre into your fitness routine.
Why Should I try it out?
Mindful movement: I always refer to the mind during a barre class. I think it is so so important to give the muscle you are working your all, and a huge factor of this is involving your mind. We do this in two ways. Firstly, we need to use our mind to tell us that we CAN do this and we will get through this burn - it's a short term sizzle and it will be over - we can't plié and pulse all day (unless you want to). Secondly, we need to put our mind into the muscles we are targeting and part of this has a lot to do with understanding what we are working, why are are working it, emphasizing the correct form. I try my best to give you the best cues possible to do the exercises with proper form. This is more important than lifting your leg to your ear or opening your legs wider to get into your splits. If you do not do this with the correct form there is no point. Having basically grown up in a studio, I have spent many years having my form corrected and I am all the better for it as it shines through in the other physical activity that I do and I feel my muscles working in a targeted and more precise way.
Other benefits: From a physical sense, it can be great to improve your posture. Once you learn the correct alignment of the body in class, you can start to correct yourself when you're sitting or walking. In barre, your core is constantly engaged in every movement and therefore, it can be perfect for increasing your core strength. Although you don't have to be flexible to do barre, with the emphasis on mobility and stretching you will definitely notice that you are increasing your depth and range of motion. Many barre class participants claim to see increased muscle tone through attending classes consistently. Lastly, it can be a great option if you want to just break up the monotony of your normal gym routine, or if you're stuck deciding what to do next. You won't be disapointed.
What to expect in Barre By Emma
I like to switch things up in my classes. Some you may find a bit more "balletic" than others, some may have a bit more cardio or focus on a specific muscle group. In each class, I try and make it as fun as possible and remember we are all burning there together - we can do it!
I am quite chatty in my class and like to take the time to describe what we're doing. With that said, I wanted to share some of my phrases below so you can be prepared!
My IGTV With HerSport.ie
"A little lift, a little lower"
"In an inch, out an inch"
"I lost count, whoops, keep going"
"Pull the bellybutton towards your spine"