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Ally Love takes you through step-by-step.
If you’re a fan of Reformer Pilates, yoga classes, or meditation, you might have tried a handful of Barre exercises.
Similar to ballet, Barre is a low-impact workout that promises to strengthen multiple muscle groups, including your glutes, thighs, and pelvic floor (just get ready for the DOMs the next day, if you haven’t worked out for a while).
Plus, as with any exercise, it offers to boost your mental health, too, thanks to the handy endorphins (aka feel good hormones) that you release during a sweat session.
Rumoured celebrity fans include Alessandra Ambrosio, Karlie Kloss and Natalie Portman, as our round up of the best celebrity workouts shows.
Keen to give it a go for yourself? We’ve picked the brains of Peloton instructor Ally Love – aptly titled the “Queen of Barre” – to get her take. Keep scrolling for her complete guide to Barre, plus a run through of her go-to barre exercises to try tonight. While you’re here, check out our guides to Pilates vs yoga, breathwork training, and weight training, too.
Barre: your complete guide
If you’ve never heard of Barre before, as above, it’s a combination of dance, ballet and strength training. “It limits your range of motion and uses holds and pulses to fatigue the muscle group,” explains Love.
So, why is Barre such a good sweat session? “It’s an effective, fun workout,” she continues. “You get to use the beat of the music to strengthen your body, which will normally help you to take your mind off the idea of working out and enjoying the workout,” instead.
Most barre-based classes use a combination of postures inspired by ballet and other disciplines like yoga and Pilates. “Barre consists of doing exercises, with or without props, that focus on isometric contracts combined with isotonic training: reps of small range-of-motion movements,” she continues.
Fun fact: Barre means gateway and was created in London in 1959 by Lotte Berk, a German-born ballerina, explains Love. “After injuring her back, Berk got the idea of combining her ballet barre routines with her rehabilitative therapy to form an exercise system.”
Benefits of barre: 4 to know
As well as being a great boost for your mental health, there are loads of benefits of Barre.
1. It’s a full body workout
A bit like some forms of Pilates and weight training, Barre actually offers a full body workout, meaning you’ll be using most of your muscle groups when giving the workout a go.
2. It will strengthen your muscles
Similarly, its great for strengthening your core, glutes and legs, shares the expert.
3. It’s low-impact but effective
As we explained in our low impact workout guide, lower impact sessions – like Barre – can be really great for anyone with joint issues or injuries as it puts less strain on your joints but can deliver as effective a workout.
4. Increases flexibility
As, generally speaking, the workouts involve a lot of stretching, which helps both flexibility and range of joint motion.
Barre exercises: 5 to try tonight
Below are Love’s five favourite barre exercises perfect for trying at home. Ready to give them a go?
1. Relevé iPlié
How to: Squeeze your inner thighs together and lift your heels as high as you can off the ground. Keeping your shoulders stacked over your hips and your thighs engaged, bend your knees and lower your body straight down until your thighs form a 45-degree angle with the floor. Without dropping your heels, extend your knees to come back up to a standing position.
2. Grand Plie Heel lifts
How to: Wide stance and point your toes about 45-degrees outward. Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height or on your hips. Keeping your knees behind your toes, and your shoulders stacked over your hips, bend your knees to lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor, or as deep as you can get without compromising your form.
Alternate: From this position, raise you on heel at a time, and alternate.
3. Grand Plie Pulses
How to: Wide stance and point your toes about 45-degrees outward. Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height or on your hips. Keeping your knees behind your toes, and your shoulders stacked over your hips, bend your knees to lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor, or as deep as you can get without compromising your form. From this position, hold and move the trunk of the body up 1 inch up and 1 inch down.
Hold: For 16 to 32 counts.
How to: Start in first position or your heels together and feet in a small V. Pull your left knee straight up and point your left toes as your foot comes up off the ground. When your left toes reach your right knee, reverse it back to first position.
Repeat: On the other side.
5. Barre Curl
How to: Lay flat with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Hold onto your outer thighs and roll back so your abs are engaged, keeping your shoulder blades off the floor.
Hold: Keeping your abs tight, let go of your legs and hold this position.
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