Raising The Barre

Get a dancer's body, no tutu required. Image Credit

Get a dancer’s body, no tutu required. Image Credit.

First it was yoga. Then pilates. Then spinning. Then bootcamp. No matter the routine (and no matter how crazy,) celebrity-approved workouts always seem to take the fit-conscious crowd by storm. Since part of celebs’ job description basically includes attaining and maintaining hot bodies, however, following their tried and tested methods isn’t always such a bad idea. The latest and greatest in VIP fitness? Barre workouts.

Ballet Beautiful creator Mary Helen Bowers shows off one of her classic figure-enhancing moves. Image via Instagram.

Ballet Beautiful creator Mary Helen Bowers shows off one of her classic figure-enhancing moves. Image via Instagram.

Barre workouts have been flying steadily under the radar for at least the last five years or so, gaining some notoriety after the premier of 2010’s Black Swan. Celebrity fans include Kelly Osbourne, Natalie Portman, Miranda Kerr, Kelly Ripa, and Madonna, just to name a few! At its most basic, barre workouts are bouts of ballet-inspired movement sans actual choreography–the aforementioned “barre” is used simply as a prop for balance. Sessions include tiny, isometric movements–primarily using only one’s own body weight–plus high repetitions and stretching that promise to change your body in record time. In fact, Colleen Ketcham, co-founder of modality Beyond Barre, has noted, “Simply put, barre will help to trim the thighs, lift the seat and sculpt the arms and flatten the abdominals,” so there’s that.

The movements look simple, but after completing a series of plié squats and pelvic tilts, practitioners are left shaking – literally. And for some, that’s part of the appeal. A more typically noted perk? Once you know the moves, you can do barre work anywhere–perhaps explaining it’s ever-growing collection of jet-setting celebrity admirers. Of course, not everyone wants to go it alone. Demand, meet supply! To accommodate studio junkies, barre clubs are popping up across the country, filled with legions of ultra-toned and tiny women willing to shell out major cash for the training…But what’s a good trend without a DIY option?! The Bar Method, Barre3, Pure Barre, Ballet Beautiful, Core Fusion, Xtend Barre, and  infomerical-famed Fluidity all offer DVDs–at-home options for their famed classes–this Amazon.com list, entitled “Ballet Based Exercises!” is an awesome resource for finding barre and ballet-inspired DVDs.. Best of all, you don’t even need a ballet barre! If you have a countertop, coffee table, or even a sturdy chair, you’re already fully equipped for DIY barre work. For an even cheaper route to barre fitness, check out this extensive collection of totally free online resources, pinned by Leigh Strode Dixon onto this Barre Workouts board.

Image Credit

So true. Image Credit

Celebrity support aside, I’m happy to give my personal endorsement: I’m a major, major advocate of barre fitness. I subsisted on Bar Method DVDs and cardio workouts before my wedding last summer, and totally attribute the barre to helping me attain a super-toned, sleek physique. While my body’s set point has always been tall-ish and relatively slender, I can definitely fall victim to the dreaded skinny-fat trap–not cute. Barre work totally keeps that at bay! It also enhances my whole long-and-lean thing, and for the first time in my life, gave me muscles that I legitimately found “cute”. We’re talking slender, toned arms, a little ab definition, and the best legs ever. I love it. And, as painful as it is initially, you totally become addicted to the unique full-body soreness that only a session of barre can provide. If you’re looking for a workout that’s simple and changes your body super rapidly and in the best ways, definitely check out a barre class, DVD, or video!

Have you tried barre? Would you? What are your favorite ways to stay fit?


Liza, Editorial Director


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