First Time Doing a Barre Workout? 5 Important Things You Should Know

Many who first hear about my barre workout have questions. What is it? What equipment do I need? Is it an advanced workout?

If it’s your first time doing a barre class, don’t worry. I wrote this post to touch on the 5 things I want you to know before your class begins.

But first…let’s look at exactly what is a barre workout.

What is a Barre Workout?

What is a barre workout -- woman's legs doing a barre move

Barre is a workout that incorporates moves from ballet, such as pliés and relevés, but with a modern twist. These moves are traditionally used to define and strengthen the muscles that ballerinas need while maintaining their classically slim physique. This makes them an excellent addition to anybody’s workout routine.

The word “barre” actually refers to the railing that is found along the walls of ballet studios, which ballerinas will use for stability during their routines. As we’ll talk about later in this post, a “barre” can be anything in your home that you can hold onto for balance -- a chair, a shelf...anything. So you will not need to purchase a “barre” for this workout.

Modern barre, in addition to the ballet moves, will often also include moves from pilates and other workouts that complement the overall routine. And barre classes like mine also set the workout to modern, fast-paced music.

Now that we’ve answered the question, what is a barre workout, let’s now look at 5 things you should know before your first barre workout.

5 Essential Things to Know About Your Barre Workout

man doing a barre class

1. It Targets Your Entire Body

Barre uses small, but powerful movements that target 4 main segments of your body. Specifically, it is designed to work your...

  • Arms

  • Legs

  • Core

  • Glutes

In addition to building strength, barre moves will help you to define your muscles. It will also help you to increase your agility and flexibility, which is why some football players take barre workout classes.

2. It Involves Stretching

After every targeted segment of the workout, we stretch out the muscle we just worked on.

So, while you do work your muscles during a barre class, stretching is equally important. It might not give you the burn of the barre moves, but it will help to stretch out and define those muscles, and even cut down on post-workout soreness.

dumbbells used in a barre workout

3. You Do Need Some Equipment

No, this does not mean you have to purchase expensive exercise equipment. You can find many of these tools -- or their equivalent -- around your home.

  • A barre -- In a traditional barre class, this would be a fixed barre, about waist height, that you can hold onto during your workout. But a high-backed chair, or something of similar height, is an excellent option as well.

  • Free weights -- Don’t go for the heavy ones -- 1-3 pounds is all you need. And if you don’t have free weights kicking around the house, use something else that will fit in the palm of your hand. Soup cans or water bottles will get the job done!

  • A mat - As I mentioned above, we do a lot of stretching during a barre class. And some of those stretches are done in a seated or laying-down position. While it’s not expressly necessary, a mat will make this a whole lot more comfortable.

4. Wear the Right Clothes

This isn’t about how you look. This is about being comfortable and having the range of motion you need to do the workout. In that vein, here’s what I would recommend wearing for a barre class:

  • Grippy socks or bare feet -- the last thing you want is to be sliding around during your workout.

  • Comfortable clothing -- You want to be able to move comfortably throughout your workout.

  • Sports bra -- This will ensure that you’re comfortable no matter what moves we do.

Granted, you can spend a lot of money on high-end workout clothes. But it’s completely unnecessary. Ignore brand names. Go with what is comfortable.

the key to a successful barre workout is regularity

5. Regularity Is Key to Success

After your first barre class, you’ll probably want to take a break. But resist the urge!

Remember, you’re using muscles you probably haven’t used in a while. While we aim to stretch out the muscles we work after each section, there will probably still be some sore muscles, especially if you’re brand new to barre classes.

But there is good news. By doing barre regularly, that soreness will go away.

So, ignore that tiny voice that tells you to throw in the towel. Recognize that the soreness is normal and know that it will pass with time. After a few workouts, you will notice increased stamina, endurance, and more defined muscles.

So there you have it -- that is what you should know about taking a barre class. I hope you will join me one day for one of my Barre Basics classes.

Are you concerned that you can't keep up with a fast-paced workout? Don't worry! Modifications can be made to adjust the pace to your own experience and fitness level.

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