What is barre and why does it work?

What is barre?

Barre is a dance-inspired workout that focuses on toning and strengthening the upper body, abs, booty and legs. Small, repetitive movements will burn out/fatigue the muscles in no time, eventually leading to lean, toned, sexy muscles. Barre is not only for women, men can benefit too. Barre classes will help you achieve your fitness goals regardless of what they are. Whether you want to tone up, lose weight, burn calories, spice up your workout routine or build confidence and self-esteem, our classes are designed for you. 

How does it work?

1. Muscle burn/fatigue

Of course, we start off with a warm up to get the muscles warm and the body moving. Then we dig right in. Regardless of the muscle group we are focusing on, you will notice a pattern of small (tiny, rather), repetitive movements. When I say tiny, I literally mean about an inch in any direction (up, down, front, back, etc.). These tiny, repetitive movements occur for a few minutes at a time. From this, you’ll start to notice the muscles begin to produce a burning sensation. This sensation is a sign that you are challenging yourself and your muscles are being worked to exhaustion. That’s the point! We want to burn out the muscles in a short amount of time so we can move on to the next muscle group. As a result of the burning, you might begin to feel and/or see your muscles shaking or vibrating. All of these sensations are a sign that your muscles are beginning to change shape. They are becoming the lean, tone muscles you’ve always wanted to see! The point at which the muscle begins to fatigue and/or shake will eventually have a delayed onset once the muscle becomes stronger. Muscle strength and delayed onset of muscle fatigue begins to show when you take a barre class time and time again.

2. Stretching

Once the muscle has been worked to exhaustion, the repetitions halt and stretching begins. Stretching the just-worked, exhausted muscles helps to increase blood flow, increase strength, increase range of motion and decrease muscle soreness. Stretching helps to “lengthen” and relax muscles after working them so hard. Although the muscles don’t actually grow longer, the “lengthening reaction” of stretching allows the exhausted muscle to relax, therefore leading to increased flexibility and strength, and decreased risk of injury, over time. 

3. Intensity

The intensity in which you work is up to you. Of course, the classes never seem to get easier as a whole, but there are ways to change up the intensity so it works for you. If you are new to barre, your muscles will fatigue much quicker than someone who is a bit more seasoned. It is okay to take a break. Muscle fatigue and muscle vibration can be signs that you need to back off and take a break before continuing. However, muscle fatigue and muscle vibration are also signs that you are truly challenging yourself and you may be able to embrace the quiver for just an 8-count longer. It all depends on your body. Over time, when you become more seasoned, to increase the intensity means you’ll have to deepen your posture (lower plié or higher relevé) and/or maybe grab the 3 pound weights instead of the 2 pound weights.

Remember your muscles do not have to be shaking in order for you to burn calories and change your body. We are definitely looking for muscle burn, however. 

4. Diet and hydration

Part of a well-rounded, successful barre class is how well you take care of your body before and after class. Make sure you are well hydrated before, during and after your workout. Eat healthy foods, consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, etc., throughout the day, and limit your sugars and fats. Be sure to provide yourself with something nutritious, preferably lean protein-based, after your workout to help your muscles recover. If you are working out in the morning, make sure to eat a healthy breakfast beforehand.

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