Barre pro Kate Albarelli leads a Figure 4 class at Pure YogaIf you think you’d like to try a barre fitness class, be ready for a workout that will push your muscles to their limit. “Barre classes include components of pilates, yoga, and ballet,” explains Kate Albarelli, the creator of the Figure 4 barre class at Pure Yoga. “The moves are considered ballet-based but only because they’re derived from the Lotte Berk Method. Lotte was a ballet dancer, so she used some of her dance moves when creating the workout, but what we see as today’s barre classes have gone through so many tweaks over the years.”
One of the most important things to know is that the free weights you see in many bootcamp-style classes are only a tiny part of the overall workout. “It’s all weight-bearing work, which means we use all our own body weight to achieve long, lean muscles,” says Albarelli. “We utilize small, medium, and large ranges of motion, targeting all the different muscle fibers. It’ll keep you healthy and your bones strong!”
These weight-bearing exercises Albarelli is referring to force your muscles to support another part of your body. For example, get into a grand plié, but then squat down and hold it. You’ll be shaking from the sheer force of staying in that position! So before you head to your local barre studio to tone everything from your back to your backside, find out what to expect when you get to your first class.
Come early so you can introduce yourself to the instructor.
“You’ll learn the setup and can describe any injuries,” suggests Albarelli. “Instructors can give you modifications and also pay you a little bit more attention. People who come all the time might not need as many hands-on corrections as someone who is brand new.”
Be familiar with the equipment you’ll see.
“You’ll see a barre! There might be a soft ball to squeeze between your inner thighs. There’s most likely going to be a strap for stretching, and you may have hand weights. Arms are the only muscles groups that we’ll work out using hand weights instead of our body weight. Also, set yourself up at a mirror. This way, you can get an understanding of the class by watching yourself and others.”
Wear body conscious clothing.
“Leggings and a tighter top are best in order for the teacher to see your form.”
Shoes are never allowed.
“Most barre studios have carpeting and they’ll say you need to wear socks for sanitary reasons. For your first time, it’s okay to wear ankle socks that you’d wear with running shoes. If you like the class, invest in a pair of socks with grips on the bottoms. They’re usually sold at the studio where you’re taking a class. At Pure Yoga, we allow students to go barefoot during the Figure 4 class because we have hardwood floors, but that’s rare.”
Fuel yourself properly for a class.
“Bring water to class! Afterwards, drink more water and eat a banana for potassium.”
Don’t be intimidated by the exercises.
“It’s very easy to pick up. I’ve seen the most uncoordinated people become coordinated from these types of classes.”