A new trend is taking off in the world of work out classes, one that combines strength training with balance, rhythm and dance. Ballet barre offers people with all levels of dance experience the opportunity to tone their muscles in a group setting using the simple but effective ballet barre.
Ballet barre has taken over Los Angeles. A few of the most popular Southern California studios include Bar Method, Studio 64, Pure Barre, and Physique 57. Numerically, ballet barre’s rising popularity is clear. For example, Bar Method began in 2000 in San Francisco and expanded across the country as the ballet barre exercise spread (according to the website). Today, Bar Method is in 18 states with over 65 studios.
Ballet barre classes blend fast-paced rhythm of cardio exercise with the graceful elegance of traditional ballet. Instead of a stage with ballet shoes and spotlights, clients exercise on mats in a ballet-like studio surrounded by mirrors lined with ballet barres. The instructors usually pick up the pace of the work out with pop music and then transition into calmer music for the cool down.
One of the reasons ballet barre has so many supporters is its focus on the individual. Physique 57’s website explains that each class is “an engaging and supportive community.” Each client can tailor the workout to their own strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Classes encourage and support each other. Although the class works out together, at Studio 64, each person chooses their own weight size for arm exercises. The instructor also always suggests a more challenging version of each exercise on the barre for those at a more advanced level.
However, the workout is not just about the barre. Caren of Studio 64 explains that each class uses “free weights for upper body strengthening” and “[rubber] balls for the lower quadricep muscles” as well as the stretches on the ballet barre to tone the whole body.
Caren told the Oracle that their classes provide “an amazing work out of the entire body,” especially attuned to the female body. She explains that, “it is a combination of yoga poses and pilates strengthening in conjunction with ballet [movements].” For her, this comprehensive type of workout is “life-changing” because it targets every muscle.
The websites of Pure Barre, Physique 57, and Bar Method all describe the many benefits of ballet barre classes. Their exercises aim to tone, strengthen, and stretch the abdominals, arms, glutes, and thighs. The overall results, they say, include more “stamina and energy” (Bar Method), “flexibility” and “body alignment” (Physique 57), similar “mental benefits achieved in yoga or meditation” (Pure Barre).
Featured Image: Archer ballet dancers. Photographer: Daniella Morrison ’13