When you think of taking a Barre class you probably think it’s going to be fun. You might know that it will be somewhat difficult. You might know that you won’t sweat as much as other workouts. If you’ve ever danced, you might think it’s going to be like ballet. You also might know that you’ll be sore afterwards – especially if you don’t workout all that much.
You probably don’t know that the classes are so intense that your whole body will shake uncontrollably. And you might feel like you’re going to throw up…
Barre class is a defined as a combination of ballet moves with yoga and Pilates. It focuses on working muscles through small, isometric movements. It uses your own body weight as resistance, although sometimes hand weights and resistance bands are also incorporated. Muscles are worked to the point of fatigue – on purpose.
After several months of Barre class (although, admittedly not in the past few weeks because of end of the year school things), I feel confident that I can give you a clear picture about what taking Barre classes will do for you and what it will not do for you.
Here is what I learned:
It’s harder than you think it is
I’ve taken many workout classes before and while they’ve been challenging, I wouldn’t say any of them are especially difficult. Not Barre.
Barre class is hard in a way that’s a bit indescribable. It’s intense. It challenges you both physically and mentally as you struggle to maintain your form and hold position. Your body will shake from holding positions and the isometric movements, which is a good thing. When you get to let go and rest, you’ll let out a huge sigh of relief and your muscles will throb. Then it’s on to the next position seconds later. Sounds fun, right?
Through it all, you’ll be exhausted but refreshed after class.
Even if you’re in shape, Barre class might kick your ass
If you run, if you lift, if you are a cyclist, if you do any other type of exercises, Barre will still be challenging and you will still be sore afterwards. As I said above it is harder than you think and the isometric movements work muscles that you don’t normally work doing some of these other exercises. I used to run all the time and I didn’t even know I had some of the muscles we work out in Barre class.
Barre is not the best if weight loss is your goal
If your goal is to lose weight, you need to work in another type of cardio workout in conjunction with Barre. While it will give you an amazing workout, the goal for Barre is to strengthen and tone your muscles without adding bulk.
Barre class is not a high calorie burner, which is something you need if you’re looking to balance out or reduce your overall daily calorie intake. According to the Mayo Clinic, you need to cut 500-1,000 calories a day from your diet to lose one pound a week. Depending on your weight, you can burn 200 – 300 calories per Barre class. For more on calculating how much you can burn, check out this information at livestrong.com.
There are mental benefits
Barre offers more than just physical benefits through. In fact, the mental benefits are similar to yoga. It increases your mind and body awareness and your focus and concentration. When you focus on the technique of the movement, it lets your mind relax and can decrease stress levels. You also get endorphins from it just as you would any other workout, which may be why I keep going back.
It doesn’t hurt my knees
Since I used to run all the time, my knees are shot. They are honestly the two things keeping me from running everyday again right now. I’ve had cortisone shots in both of them and in one of them there is evidence of a sprain as well as arthritis. News flash: I’m in my upper 30’s and not getting any younger.
I had been looking for something to supplement running when I stumbled into Barre class. I was a bit worried I wouldn’t be able to hack it due to my knee issues. However, I’m thrilled to report that it rarely bothers my knees. Even if one movement is a little tough for me, they NEVER hurt afterwards. That void of pain is something I actually never thought I would experience again from a workout.
You’ll see results fast
While Barre won’t really help with weight loss, you will see and feel results in about a week or two of classes if you go three or more times per week. I could feel my muscles toning up, I could see them toning up and when I did run, I noticed my endurance was much better than it had been before Barre. Again, there are also mental benefits and that might be one of the biggest perks. It certainly helped my outlook on things in the dead of winter in Michigan.
The music is awesome
If you’ve ever gone to a random aerobic workout class at a gym or if you’ve done Zumba or even yoga, you know the music might be a bit drab. Even if it’s upbeat, I sometimes don’t jive with it. In Barre class, the music is all a mix of songs you know that are popular on the radio.
It doesn’t seem like this would be a bonus, but I’m totally driven by the music I listen to while working out. In fact, there have been many days where I have bailed on a run because I couldn’t find a pair of headphones.
Your movements will be in time with the beat and there’s something cathartic about it all once you get them right and get on rhythm. Sometimes I can convince myself I’m just dancing…sometimes…
You’re stronger than you know
I think that this is one of the biggest takeaways for me. Even though Barre is extremely intense and can feel difficult, you will get through it. In fact, you’ll probably do really well if you can challenge your mind a bit and push through.
Don’t be afraid to take a break
If you need a break, you can also take a couple seconds. No one shames you at Barre class. Even if people look like they are in peak physical shape, it’s still intense and everyone ends up needing a few seconds at some point. I’m going to be taking a lot of them when I start again next week.
You’ll be hooked
I know a lot of this sounds negative. However, there’s honestly something about Barre that makes you feel strong, empowered and happy. That will keep you coming back for the pain time and time again. What can I say? We all know love hurts. At least this kind of love will make you kick ass strong too.