Unless you’ve had your head stuck in the mud over the past couple of years, you know that barre classes aren’t just for dancers anymore. And after trying a Figure 4 Barre class last week, just how those dancers get their epically lean and toned physiques is no longer lost upon me. I left the class wondering two things: (1) how it was possible that I just got one of the best workouts of my life from a barre class, and (2) how the hell am I gonna get home?
(Photo: Yoga Suite)
My legs were super shaky and had been worked to the point of exhaustion. So, what’s a girl to do but sit in the studio lobby and wait for her legs to cooperate? Yes, I really sat there for like 10 minutes.
But don’t let the leg shakes scare you, apparently that’s totally normal if you’re doing it right. In a nutshell, most barre classes are designed to sculpt lean muscles using a combo of strength training and dance techniques centered around a ballet barre. Here’s what else to expect from a barre class.
WHAT TO EXPECT
- A Full-Body Workout: Admittedly, I thought I’d be going to do some stretching on the barre and a bunch of plies… definitely wrong about that. In addition to the body-weight centric leg and butt work, there were push-ups, arm work using light free weights, planks and then more intensive ab work. I’m not kidding when I say I couldn’t laugh or cough for two days afterward, but at least my abs feel tighter now.
- A New Challenge for Your Muscles: You can workout 5 days a week and still find a barre class to be challenging. Most of the moves are smaller isometric exercises that work your muscles to exhaustion. Look it at it this way, it’s much more difficult to make tiny movements or hold a position in which your muscles are already contracted, versus making large movements. Think tiny plie pulses vs squats. You’re definitely gonna feel the effects of those tiny pulses the next day.
- Some Serious Muscle Shakes: Already explained above, but the point is, if you’re not shaking, you’re probably not doing it right. While it may feel like your muscles have betrayed you, you can take comfort in the fact that those tiny movements have some major sculpting power. Also, newbies might wanna arrange for a ride home… just sayin’.
- The Slimming Effect: It’s possible I could be imagining this, but I don’t think I am since I know my body pretty well these days. The day after the class, I swear my legs had bulked up a little (obviously not what I was hoping for) but on day 2 of recovery, they looked slimmer than I’ve seen them in a while. And did I mention the tighter abs? 😉
If you haven’t tried a barre class yet, it’s definitely worth a try… even it’s just to switch up your fitness routine a bit. Plus, barre classes have exploded in popularity, so if you live in at least a mid-size city, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to track down a class or studio nearby.
P.S. Don’t forget about your regular cardio to keep your heart strong and keep the excess fat away 😉