For decades, women have shunned the weight room in favor of cardio-driven workouts for fear of bulking up. While it is true that some women can get too muscular lifting heavy weights, barre workouts are known for sculpting a lean and feminine physique. Forget about the traditional push and pulls, grunts and heavy dumbbell lifting (yawn) and think: light weights and high repetition until your muscles start to burn and change dramatically. There’s no other workout that delivers results so profoundly. Not convinced? Read on for some serious benefits of barre workouts, plus a list of my favorite barre classes in cities around the world.
1. It’s More Efficient
Building lean muscle tissue increases your metabolic mass which helps to burns calories, even at rest. This makes strength training an efficient workout overall because you keep burning fat even after you’re done working out. Barre classes target all major muscle groups, often simultaneously, and rely primarily on your own body weight for resistance. Think: A total body sculpting class packed into one hour. If you’re a busy mom, a working woman, or a multi-tasker, say yeeeees.
2. You’ll Become Empowered
Confidence is your most beautiful trait. Carrying yourself with elegance and good posture is one way to feel good inside and practicing barre helps bring out your inner dancer. Posture enhancing moves combined with targeting strength training and stretching help you look and feel taller both in and outside of class. Pair this with heart pumping music, barre class will leave you feeling energized and empowered. With time, practice, and commitment you’ll notice your body change radically and boy is that a way to feel great about yourself.
3. Strong is Beautiful
Gone are the days where thin is on trend: Strong is the new skinny. Strong is the new sexy. Beware: barre class will sculpt your muscles and you’ll start to see your guns pop out. Not only are muscles visually beautiful, you’ll get stronger in your daily life. Lifting, running, chores, and day-to-day madness will start to feel more effortless with your newfound strength. Barre class has even enhanced my yoga practice: all those pushups prepare me well for arm balances!
4. Work From the Inside Out
There’s a difference between working from the outside in versus the inside out. Think of it like a push and pull analogy. Push workouts are where you work hard and expend external effort, say in a bootcamp class or a hardcore sweat session. Pull workouts are when you work from the inside out, like in yoga and barre classes where the energy is pulled from within. The power in pull workouts comes from your breath and all the tiny muscles that are often forgotten: glutes, transverse abdominals, and mental resilience. It isn’t that push workouts are bad—I do sprints too—but my experience has taught me that working from the insight out awakens my fierce inner goddess (plus it sculpts a killer feminine physique).
5. You Get Flexible
Most good barre classes mix in a good amount of stretching before and after the hard work which leaves your muscles long and lean and helps to avoid post-workout soreness (although not completely-sorry–if you work hard you will feel your legs the next day). Think hamstring stretches, pigeon poses, and even full splits. There’s even a moment at the end of most classes when the lights dim and you lay down in complete relaxation which will ease you into the benefits of all your hard work.
6. You Push Your Edge
Barre workouts are not for the faint of heart. They’re known to bring footballers to their knees. Yes, there will be moments when you want to give up. Don’t you have moments like these in your daily life? Barre classes force you out of your comfort zone and train you to persevere through the struggle. The great benefits of a toned physique only kick in if you’re willing to push to your edge. So go ahead, get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and watch your body (and perhaps your life) change for the better.
My Favorite Barre Studios in Cities Around the World
I dream about Physique 57 classes because I like to work hard and see immediate results. One week of physique and I kid you not-my butt is more lifted. Preserve through the burn and I promise it’s worth the payoff.
Find them in: Los Angeles, New York and recently Bangkok.
The Bar Method
The Bar Method focuses on proper alignment and small movements. Bar method forces you to concentrate-and if you don’t-the instructor is likely to call out a personalized cue for you (Nealy, lift your leg higher! Ok, Ok…)
Find them in: San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver.
Pure Barre is just pure fun. Expect to be motivated by the latest music and a no-nonsense hour of tucks and ab pulls. Note: speak to your instructor and modify if you have injuries.
Find them in: Salt Lake City, Toronto and they’ve even popped up in my summer hometown of Bozeman Montana or probably a city near you!
Inspired by the Lotte Berk Method and methods derived from it such as The Bar Method, Core Fusion and Physique 57, Barre Body has a strong emphasis on vinyasa yoga to bring heat into the body and increase flexibility. The incorporation of yoga into the classes also adds a fluid element, creating a class that feels flowing and seamless.
Find them in: Sydney and Melbourne
I had a blast when I visited Barre Core in London because it was like the British equivalent to Physique 57. Motivating instruction and a room filled with type A personalities made me feel right at home. Plus, it’s a beautiful and welcoming studio.
Find them in: London
Xtend Barre at Flex Studio. If you can get into one of Heather’s classes you’re in for a treat. Challenging, meticulous and dance focused, Heather is a model of fitness and beauty. Work hard and you could beam like she does.
Find them in: Hong Kong and cities everywhere
Exhale is more than a Barre studio. Most of their locations offer yoga and a full spa. Exhale is a one-stop-oasis for all things beauty. Get to a class on your travels and melt your jet lag away.
Find them in: New York, Los Angeles and Miami