One of the newest classes in the fitness world today is the Barre Class. It is called by many names, but the concept and structure of the class is the same, including Yoga, Pilates and Ballet to create a strong and flexible body.
Since my training is in dance, Pilates and Yoga, I researched and tried different styles to create my own style, which I call Barre Fuze. I love teaching and practicing this class because it lets me share and reap the benefits of three ways of moving the body while having fun with upbeat music and lots of sweat.
The class begins with large multi-joint movements to warm the body deeply from the inside. After the heart rate increases and the blood is flowing faster, we begin some Vinyasa (Flow) type Yoga, including Sun Salutations, pulses in the poses, and flowing back and forth from one pose to another.
To improve muscle strength and tone and bone density, we take small, isometric movements with many repetitions holding light weighted balls. This section of class focuses on the arms, chest and back, but also includes legs and core for balance and stability.
Then we move to the barre to work on our posture, lower body and back strength, flexibility and balance. If you have ever taken a ballet class, these exercises will look familiar, but there is a twist. For instance, in knee bends, or plies, we pulse in the place of deepest engagement and in leg lifts, like arabesque or attitude, we pulse the leg up in small, repeated movements for many repetitions. This fatigues the muscles and you may even notice shaking, which means your muscles are being toned and strengthened.
After strengthening each muscle group, we immediately take a pose that stretches that space to lengthen the body. We also hold balancing postures from Ballet and Yoga at the barre so you have an opportunity to hold the pose longer with support while working on taking one or both hands off to challenge the balance even more.
Finally, we go to the floor for a series of Pilates exercises to strengthen the abdominal wall, inner thighs and gluteals before resting the last few moments of class in Savasana, or corpse pose. This resting time lets the work you have done settle into the body and gives you a chance to restore your energy.
This class is challenging and fun and goes by very fast! You do not need any dance experience and it is appropriate for all levels and since there is no impact, it is also a good complement for other sports and endurance activities.