Personally, there's no greater feeling than someone noticing how much you've been crushing your workouts. One particular memory comes to mind: I had posted a photo of myself and my niece on Instagram when a friend commented on how strong and muscular my shoulders were looking. I didn't need her compliment to validate that, but still, it felt really good that others were noticing that my workout routine was paying off.
I quickly responded and let her in on my secret: I recently had attended a barre class and had become completely addicted. While those weights are tiny, they had sculpted my arms and shoulders practically overnight. My biggest accomplishment, however, was that I found myself really enjoying the workout. The toned arms were simply a bonus.
Like I previously mentioned, it didn't take long for me to start noticing toned shoulders, triceps, and upper back once I started taking barre classes regularly. There's the effect of those two- and three-pound weights you'll often incorporate during your workout, sure, but nearly every exercise uses your own body weight to sculpt and tone (like in all of those dreaded planks). "Barre involves using a student's own body weight as resistance to work against while, at times, using the ballet barre to hold onto for support or to help stretch muscles," says Grove. Most barre classes focus on arms, core, legs, and glutes so you can expect a fairly well-rounded toning workout.
Having slouched shoulders doesn't just look bad, it can also hinder your workouts, too. Strong posture is essential for balance, but it also directly impacts your form, which means you'll be prone to less injury and be able to perform all kind of exercises much better. Focusing on your posture in class will also help you even outside the gym, too. "The focus on posture during class will also bring your attention more toward it in daily life," adds Grove.
If you work out frequently, you may have come across the term "afterburn effect." This means your body is capable of burning calories even hours after you've finished working out—yes, it's a huge perk. While the number of calories burned can vary from exercise to exercise, and how vigorous of a workout you're doing is also taken into account, resistance exercise (aka barre) can produce this effect.
In fact, the Department of Sport and Movement Science said that resistance exercise can increase your metabolism for up to two days. Grove agrees: "The Bar Method sculpts, strengthens, and elongates the body in an interval format that elevates the heart rate. It produces a caloric burn that continues even after class is over," she says. If you're looking to lose weight, bare may be a great addition to your routine along with proper nutrition.
While barre certainly is not a ballet class (can we please stop that rumor already? Personally, I think it's more similar to Pilates), you may notice your body getting a whole lot more flexible like a ballerina's after consistently taking classes. I used to be one of the most inflexible people alive—I could barely touch my toes a few years ago—but along with yoga, barre has significantly improved my flexibility. Barre includes a lot of stretching and elongating of the body, which not only helps with injury prevention and improved strength but also feels so good after a long day.
As with any workout, there's plenty of mental health benefits to exercising along with the physical ones. Grove shares that "students of The Bar Method often report that they feel not only physically stronger but mentally stronger as well since the exercises challenge mental stamina and will." Barre is a great stress reliever that often doesn't require a shower immediately after, which makes it an excellent choice if you're looking to combat anxiety and stress before a long workday.
Want to get a taste of barre without leaving your living room? Keep scrolling for three moves you can try at home.
The Bar Method
Fold-over not only sculpts your working side glutes, but it also builds strength and definition in the supporting leg while challenging your stamina.
Stand a full arm's length away from your support (substitute a barre using a steady chair or tabletop) and place your hands gently on top of it. Open your feet to hip-width apart and parallel. Soften your knees. Hinge over at your hips until your torso is almost horizontal to the floor. Place your right foot on the floor behind you and exhale for a few breaths to engage your abdominals. Lift your leg up ideally in line with your glutes. Drop your shoulders and aim your elbows diagonally down towards the floor. Lift your leg up one inch and down one inch. Do this about 20 times. Lift your leg more quickly but still in a one-inch range of motion. Finish with 30 reps. Repeat on the other side.
The Bar Method
Sit on the floor and bend your legs in front of you. Open your feet to hip-width apart and parallel and place your feet on the floor. Align your hands under your shoulders and turn your fingertips forward and slightly out. Lift your seat off of the floor, shift back until your ribcage starts to round between your upper arms, and tuck your hips slightly. Bend forward at your waist. Bend your elbows down an inch and up an inch. Continue for about 30 to 40 reps to sculpt your triceps, which will create definition to your upper arms.
The Bar Method
Stand profile to your support (substitute a barre using a steady chair or tabletop). Put your one hand on your support and the other on your low waist. Open your feet to hip-width apart and parallel. Soften your knees. Put one foot on the floor in front of you. Using your quads, the muscles that run along the top of your thigh, lift your leg up to a height that is comfortable yet challenging for you. Lift your leg up and inch and down an inch about 10 to 15 times. Lower your leg for a reset. Raise your leg back up and lift a little more quickly to finish for about 20 to 30 reps.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions. See our full health disclaimer here.