Thursday, January 14, 2016

What to Expect at the Barre

I've talked about Pure Barre a few times on the blog and shared my love of it a few weeks back. If you missed it, check it out here. Today, I want to walk you through what a class will look like and some of the crazy terms you might hear!

Every class is similar in that it follows the same basic format, but you'll be doing different exercises within each set. But, don't believe that just because it's the same general format, doesn't mean it gets any easier. Trust me, it doesn't.

Warm Up. 

Warm up sounds easy right? And you certainly think it might be for the first minute or so because you start by alternating lifting your legs up to chest level, almost as if you're marching and it feels like you might be in an aerobics class. After you finish "marching", it's straight to the floor for an early ab set and sometimes I think the first ab set is harder than the official one at the end of the class! And to top of the warm up, there's a 90 second plank. But, it's never just a plank - there's always some other movements thrown in there to make it more torturous fun.

I'm in the back row with pink pants!

Next up, arms! You'll start off by pushing up from your plank into push up position and then move into side planks on each side. There's a push up set - both standard and on your knees. Please don't think that just because they're "modified pushups", that they're not hard. As with the plank, there's always something fancy to make it burn more!

Once the push up set it done, you get a quick mini stretch before you stand up for weight work. I implore you to start with the 2 pound weights and don't be afraid to drop them if you need to. Some days, I'm able to do the full set no problem, then some days I have to drop them towards the end. Listen to your body BUT don't use it as an excuse. Your goal is to push your muscles to exhaustion!


This is the part of class where the actual barre comes into play. There are SO many variations that can be done here and they're all going to hurt so good. My biggest piece of advice for thighs is when the teacher says "sink one inch lower" actually sink one inch lower! Take the challenge - I swear your body can do it! You should also always be holding your abs in tight to get the full body work out for the full 55 minutes.

There will be three thigh exercises before you get to move back to the middle of the room for a really good stretch. This is what's going to give you the long, lean legs you're looking for!


Back to the barre you go! (Typically, there are a few times you'll stay in the center, but they're not as common) You'll usually work the right side first and you'll have two exercises and a stretch and then you'll move the left side. Again, there are a ton of variations here which keeps things fun and interesting!

The biggest thing I told Alyssa when she started joining me at the Barre is that you're going to feel it in both sides - that's normal. The stronger you get, the less you'll feel in the other side. If at any time you're standing on one foot (like the picture above) shift your weight into the instep of your foot and you'll release some - not all - of the pressure and finish out strong before the next stretch!


There are two ab sections.. well, three if you count the warm up. The first will be with a mat and you'll stay under the barre. I'll be completely honest - this one took me almost 3 or 4 weeks to fully understand it. It's not the most intuitive exercise, but man does it work when you figure it out. My biggest advice here is to remember that you're focusing on your abs - don't be afraid to lower your leg in order to fully engage your abs.

The second portion will be more what you're used to with different variations of crunches. But, they're different than anything you've done in a standard work out. Always remember to breathe and keep your abs as flat as possible!

I'm on the far left in a blue tank by the barre!


To finish class, there will be a quick ab stretch (this seriously feels so good at this point), a minute of back work and to finish - back dancing. This is a bridge where you may tuck, pulse or press your knees back.

Finally, it's time to grab your red tube and stretch out all the work you just did! The last 5 minutes are finally my favorite because the stretch feels so amazing and you're so proud of all the hard work you just did!

Now some terms....

Tuck: this is the act of rolling your hip bones towards your ribs. You'll be doing this literally all class. Just assume you're always tucking. And if you go often enough, you'll find yourself tucking in the car, while cooking, folding clothes...

Hold/Freeze: once you're in a position, you will stop in that position for a moment before repeating the movement. EX: "Tuck, hold. Tuck, freeze". They're completely interchangeable and you'll here it all class!

Pulse: pulse is a small movement where you'll move up and down in whatever position you're in - typically to the beat of the music. 

Down an inch, up an inch: this will normally be in thighs, but you will go down just an inch and slowly back up just an inch. Barre is truly about all small movements and an inch is smaller than you think! Concentrate on tiny movements!

Dime sized circle: usually takes place during seat work or abs under the barre - you'll move your leg in the tiniest circle you can imagine. Again, keep it all small!

This month, Pure Barre is doing a "Learn to Barre" month and I literally want every one I know to take advantage of it. See the details here.

And, if you're in the Charlotte area, I adore both the studios I go to: Ballantyne and SouthPark. There's also one in Myers Park, Lake Norman and Fort Mill!

Next week, I already have a post scheduled with all my best tips for a class! Yes, I'm planning in advance.. it's weird ;) 

**All pictures are from Pure Barre Ballantyne or Pure Barre South Park's Facebook pages! 

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