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Thread: Barre

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.


    We don't have a Barre thread? Well, we do now. Also copied this to our Crossfit thread.

    I Traded My CrossFit Workout For Barre Class, and This Is What Totally Shocked Me
    April 11, 2019

    While I was visiting my best friend in New York City, she treated me to her favorite barre class. I teach yoga, do CrossFit, and love working out and getting stronger. But I actually had never done barre in my life, so I slipped on the grippy socks and was excited to have at it!

    First Impressions
    In the small carpeted room, three walls had ballet bars attached, and there were mirrors on two of the walls. The very friendly instructor introduced herself, and said, "You've done barre before, right?" My friend answered yes for me, then whispered to me that this was not a beginner class, but that I'd be fine. That was my first indication that I, in fact, was not going to be fine.

    Everyone in the room was younger than me, wearing adorable matching sports bras with leggings — I felt like I was in a barre commercial! And they all clearly had done barre before because they all seemed to know exactly what to do when the instructor called out exercises and equipment. It was inspirational to see them all moving so gracefully with soft smiles on their faces. And then there was me. I felt like I was struggling the entire hour-long class!

    What Was the Workout Like?
    The very first thing we were told to do was grab a set of dumbbells. All right! Starting off with something I was familiar with! I was surprised to see that the dumbbells only went up to six pounds. I thought, hmmm, I better grab some five-pounders, because from my two-class SoulCycle experiences, I had a notion there was going to be a lot of reps in my future. We faced the mirror for a series of fast-paced arm exercises. It was weird to see myself — there are no mirrors in CrossFit! But truthfully, I felt pretty pumped seeing my muscles working, and I had no trouble doing the thousands of bicep curls in the arm series (thank you, CrossFit!). Boom! I'm a barre master!

    Then we moved over to the barre. There we put a large, squishy ball between our knees. The instructor had us bring our heels together, then raise them off the floor, then do a million small squats. Holy hell! I thought my legs were strong from weighted squats, deadlifts, and sled drags, but man — I could not keep up! I had to take breaks every couple of reps while everyone else was still going strong! I cursed that frickin' ball.

    After putting the ball away, we then did some squats and awkward (for me, at least) leg lifts/kicks while holding onto the bar. I had to look around the entire time since I couldn't get the thought, "What the heck am I supposed to be doing?" out if my head. As a visual person, I needed someone to follow. The instructor could tell, and she sweetly kept coming over to me, moving my limbs where they needed to go like a puppeteer, saying, "Sugar, you're doing great!"

    We then grabbed mats and moved on to the floor. "Sweet relief," I thought, but I was sorely wrong (ha, pun intended!). On all fours, we did a bunch of isolated booty lifts, followed by plank holds, and then core work. After two minutes of stretching, the instructor said, "Have a great day, barre-tenders!" ushering us out and welcoming the next group in. Phew!

    How Did Barre Compare to CrossFit?
    It was quite the whirlwind experience! I mean, I wasn't bored at all, so that was a bonus! But the floor work was probably the hardest part for me, emotionally and physically. This is the moment I saw the instructor demonstrate some move — we were on all fours and she lifted her leg back to do some lifts and I saw it, and my first thought was — holy magnificent marshmallow! She had this perfectly round, plump, firm, marshmallow pom-pom of a glute. I mean this in the most loving way possible.

    I just couldn't believe my eyes, but it made me realize that CrossFit and barre were like polar opposites. CrossFit is all about building strength through functional movements — picking up barbells translates to an easier time picking up your kids or carrying groceries. Box jumps make climbing stairs (or mountains) easier. Suffering through burpees not only makes you appreciate life, but they build speed and agility in case you had to get up and run away from an attacker or a bear (hey, it could happen!).

    Now barre? To me, it seemed like all the exercises we did were purely for aesthetic purposes. I mean when I was leaning on the barre lifting my extended leg up behind me, bending my knee so I could target a section of my glutes, which I had no idea I was engaging until the next day when I felt it aching on the airplane ride home, I knew that barre must be the reason butts are called peaches. I felt like barre was all about making you look good, while not necessarily feel good, which is what CrossFit does for me. The class didn't make me feel confident and strong the way CrossFit does; it made me feel the opposite.

    I definitely felt worked by the end of barre, but it wasn't as intense or competitive as CrossFit — two things I love about that workout. There's an element of always trying to lift more, move faster, or improve in some way, and that's what drives me to go back again and again. CrossFit is exciting and even though the workouts push me to the point of feeling like I may puke or cry (or both), that's what sets CrossFit apart from anything else. I just didn't feel that same exhilaration and joy after barre.

    Will I Go Back?
    After the class I looked at my friend and thought, "I don't know if she loves me or hates me!" I've been doing CrossFit for almost three years and I'm no weakling! But that barre class completely humbled me. I felt uncomfortable not knowing if I was doing the exercises correctly, and my muscles were shaking — I couldn't believe a barre class could be that hard!

    As a yoga instructor and an avid CrossFitter, I actually enjoyed being put in the position where I was a newbie. It made me appreciate how far I've come in my fitness journey and how good it is to try new things. Sweating it out, balancing on the balls of my feet, feeling my inner thighs incinerating in barre made me realize just how much I love CrossFit, and that realization made the experience worth it. I don't see myself seeking out a barre class on my own, but if a friend invites me to go, I definitely won't pass up the opportunity to feel humbled again at the barre.

    Image Source: Getty / FatCamera
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    more on barre

    'hit the bar(re)'

    The Beginner's Guide to Barre Class
    Here's what you need to know before you hit the bar(re).
    By Colleen Travers August 23, 2019


    Looking to try a barre workout class for the first time, but don't really know what the heck to expect? Here's the basic 101 rundown: "Most barre-based classes use a combination of postures inspired by ballet and other disciplines like yoga and Pilates," says Sadie Lincoln, founder of barre3 fitness. "The barre is used as a prop to balance while doing exercises that focus on isometric strength training (holding your body still while you contract a specific set of muscles) combined with high reps of small range-of-motion movements." Also, don't be surprised if your barre class incorporates light handheld weights to bring the burn during all those reps, as well as mats for targeted core work.

    Ahead, more on the barre workout trend, the benefits, and what to actually expect before your barre class.

    When Did Barre Workouts Get So Trendy?

    Wondering why these boutique studios and specialty classes are popping up all over the place? Lincoln, who opened her first studio in 2008, points to the trend toward community. "Many of us discovered during hard times that we craved smaller and more connected classes. We needed a place where we could balance our bodies and get prepared for our busy and stressful days."

    Tanya Becker, co-founder of Physique 57 thinks the results are the reason for the craze (which is inspired by the retro fitness movement launched with the Lotte Berk Method). "Women see results quickly with barre class, it's a one-stop shop that includes all the essentials of a well-rounded exercise program, plus it's perfect for women who are short on time. That's a workout women will always need!"

    The Benefits of Barre Workouts

    Still not sold on barre class? If you're sitting slumped in your chair reading this, then you may want to think again. According to Lincoln, the major benefits of barre class are improved posture, muscle definition, weight loss, increased flexibility, and reduced stress. Plus, women at just about any fitness level can sign up for a barre class: Both Lincoln and Becker say that barre classes are perfectly fine for pregnant women because they're not high impact. They may even help with imbalance—a common issue during pregnancy due to that growing belly—and stability. (Try at-home barre workout with our starter pack of 4 tiny—yet-crazy-effective—barre-inspired core moves.)

    What to Expect from a Barre Class

    You've taken the plunge and signed up for a barre class. Now what? While the experience will differ studio to studio, Becker says that the typical class (such as a Physique 57 beginner session) will take you through a dynamic and invigorating workout. You'll start with a warm up and sequence of upper-body exercises, which include free weights, push-ups, planks and other moves to target the biceps, triceps, chest, and back muscles.

    Next, you'll use the ballet barre and your own body weight for resistance to focus on the thigh and seat muscles. Your core will be engaged the entire class and then targeted at the end.

    For the cool down, you'll go through a series of stretches to increase flexibility and allow your muscles to recover. Most classes are 60 minutes, says Lincoln, and some studios (like most barre3 locations) may even offer childcare during class. (Related: This Barre Studio Abs Workout Sculpts a Strong Core with No Equipment)

    What to Wear to Barre Class

    When choosing your workout attire, think yoga wear, suggests Lincoln. Leggings (we adore these more affordable Lululemon look-alikes), a sports bra, and tank will do the trick. As for footwear, you won't need it! Go barefoot or do the class in grippy socks to prevent slipping. (Related: Workout Gear That Will Make You Look and Feel Like a Ballerina)

    How a Barre Workout Stacks Up Against Cardio

    One of the best parts about barre classes is that they combine strength training and cardio, says Becker, so you're burning fat and building muscle at the same time. (This intense barre class at home doubles as cardio!) "Our technique focuses on strengthening the muscles, and muscle tissue burns 15 times as many calories as fat. The stronger you get, the more calories you'll burn 'round the clock."

    But it's not all about the competition: Barre is actually one of the best complements to running and other high-impact activities (here's why). Time to pump up those plies!

    By Colleen Travers
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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