Barre classes are a favourite amongst beginners, pros, models and celebrities alike. Why? The low-impact conditioning class combines the movement of ballet, the strengthening of pilates and the stretching of yoga—all within one 45-minute class.
If you’re not familiar, you might be thinking, What’s barre? It’s basically a super-energising whole-body workout that’s great for everyone from beginners to pros. Each class works to build alignment, strengthen your core and tone and elongate muscles. Think all the body benefits of a ballet dancer—without actually having to attempt a plié.
The actual “barre” in class is used as a prop to help you balance, leaving you to focus on isometric strength exercises (i.e., holding your body still while you contract a small and specific set of muscles). The movements might be small, but trust us—you’ll feel the burn.
But unlike more obvious (read: sweaty) workouts like HIIT, boxing or spin, it’s hard to know what to expect from and the effects it can have on your body. From improved posture to reduced stress, there are tonnes of benefits of that target not only your body but also your mind.
8 (Almost Immediate) Benefits of Barre
1. Your Posture Will Improve
“There’s a big focus on strengthening the muscles through the chest and shoulders in barre practice, which in turn prevents us from slouching,” Leah Willoughby, instructor and personal trainer at Ten Health & Fitness explains. After just a few sessions, you’ll feel yourself standing taller with a sense of elongation throughout your body.
2. You’ll Notice the Difference in Your Bum
“Barre training is also fantastic for strengthening the glutes,” says Willoughby. Sure, this extra toning is a win for us in the peachy rear department, but the instructor and personal trainer explains there’s more to it than simply building a butt. “More importantly, working on your glutes helps to strengthen all the muscles that stabilise the pelvis. This can in turn help to alleviate pressure on the back, hips and knees,” she says.
3. Your Stomach Muscles Will Reap the Benefits
Because barre focuses heavily on balance and strength, your core is an integral part of training. “As you use the abdominals to hold the body in a correct alignment, barre classes will give you a heavy core workout—perfect for keeping toned tummies in check,” says Willoughby.
4. …And Your Back Will Feel It, Too
Strengthening your core muscles is not only great for building a flat stomach, but it also strengthens your back. The small isometric movements help to strengthen the tiny muscles around your spine, easing pressure and tension you might hold in your lower back. This improvement on your posture helps to elevate that 4 p.m. back pain you get when sitting at a desk all day.
5. Your Muscles Will Gain Definition
It’s not just your glutes and abs that get a workout during barre, though. There’s also a focus on arms (often at the beginning of class) that incorporates everything from push-ups, tricep dips, bicep curls and shoulder work with small weights. Just a few classes in, and you’ll be surprised at how your arms become stronger and more defined.
6. It’ll Help You Become More Flexible
The combination of stretching and the focus on posture allows your flexibility to be pushed to the limit. By no means do you need to be the most graceful, swan-like prima ballerina at barre (the movements are easy to adapt for all levels), but give yourself a few weeks, and you’ll be surprised at how your flexibility increases.
7. You’ll Feel Less Stressed
We all know that exercise, in general, helps to reduce stress, but whereas yoga quietens the mind and HIIT “gets it all out,” barre sits somewhere in between. Barre is a mental challenge, as each movement requires a level of mindfulness to stay engaged. It’s almost like a form of meditation, as your brain is so focused on each small movement. You’ll leave each class feeling lifted and calm.
8. You’ll Feel Slimmer—Fast
Whilst weight loss isn’t the main focus of a barre class (and you’re unlikely to shed the pounds as quickly as you might from spin or HIIT), you’ll definitely feel slimmer thanks to your improved posture and alignment. Your muscles will feel toned, your limbs will look longer and you’ll be standing taller. Trust us—once you start barre, you’ll spot a sloucher a mile off.
Shop Items You Need for Barre
You’ll want to wear lightweight, stretchy and comfortable clothes for barre. Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up the kit you’ll need.