Step Up and Get Lean at the Barre

| Fitness

Ask most women what their biggest fitness goals is and you will usually hear the same request; to look long and lean. For some, this body type comes naturally as they flow through life, making us all envious. For the rest of us, getting that long, lean look requires a bit more effort. Enter the amazing Barre workout.

women at a pilates barre class
(Photo: Ballet Fusion Fitness)

The Barre fitness craze began more than 50 years ago in 1959, when a woman names Lotte Berk opened the first studio in London. The workout, a combination of ballet moves and rehabilitation exercises, was designed by Berk to help herself and others, recover from injuries and back pain. With this description in mind, one might be fooled into thinking that a Barre workout is more of a relaxing stretch, perhaps comparing it to a gentle form of yoga; however, those who have actually taken a Barre class will certainly disagree.

What is it: Barre is a quick moving cardio and strength workout that combines a variety of different exercises from ballet and yoga. The workout also incorporates some extreme core work, serious “seat” (aka booty) tightening moves, a touch of choreography and stretching. To up the challenge a bit, in addition to using their own body weight , students also use light hand weights (3-5 lbs), resistance bands and a small playground ball.

What’s the set-up like: Barre studios are set up very much like a typical dance studio. The room will have two walls of floor to ceiling mirrors with a ballet barre attached and tons of open space. Students should come in loose, comfortable clothing, (think yoga pants, t-shirt or tank top) and no shoes are allowed. Instead, students should wear ballet shoes, special socks with grip on the bottom (usually sold at the studio) or they have the option to go completely barefoot.

What’s the workout: Most Barre classes run between 55-65 minutes in length. They usually begin with a 5 minute warm-up, followed by 15-minutes of upper body movements involving your own body weight and/or light hand weights. Next, you will go right into a 30 minute session at the barre, doing movements for the legs and the “seat”. Next, you have about 10 minutes of core strengthening movements (including some killer planks), and finally a short 5 minute cool-down and stretch.

What’s the payoff: In addition to burning off 350-380 calories per class and being well on your way to a long, lean, ballerina type figure, this workout has a plethora of other positive affects on the body. Many Barre regulars rave about decreased back pain, more flexibility, increased lean muscle mass, improved sleep and feeling less stressed.

Where do I sign up: If you’re looking for a studio, there are tons of options world-wide. Here are just a few of the biggest names in Barre:

LA Barre Studio

Exhale Core Fusion

Pure Barre


The Barre Studio

Xtend Barre Workout

Not quite ready for a class but would love to try some Barre moves at home? Click here for 12 fat blasting Barre moves!

Story sources: LA Barre Studio and Discovery Fit and Health