Skaates, owner of The Main Barre in downtown Los
Angeles, leads a Barre workout in her studio on Sept.
22, 2015. Barre teachers say the workout's combination
of dance exercises, yoga and Pilates is perfect for an
age when many people spend hours hunched over devices.
took a single ballet class as a girl, despite my whining, and
while I got over that, I still canít ignore the allure of
long, graceful muscles and good posture, which are the sweet
promises behind barre workouts.
teachers say the workoutís combination of dance exercises,
yoga and Pilates is perfect for an age when many of us spend
hours hunched over devices, our behinds on desk chairs. We
seem to agree: There are hundreds of barre programs out there,
from boutique studios to their corporate cousins, Dailey
Method, Pure Barre and Physique 57 among them.
an athlete, I do CrossFit and I like barre as a complement to
the high-intensity workout," says Allison Hagendorf, a
health coach and the founder of FitToFeast.com.
popular, she says, because itís "completely inclusive.
Everyone can do it. Itís not intimidating. And itís about
flexibility and tiny movements."
the work in a barre class (generally mostly women, though open
to all) involves small movements done in precise ways. It
might seem that such a workout can hardly make a difference,
but most practitioners look great, and a class can wear out
even a fit person. The idea is to target specific muscles,
such as transverse abdominals, psoas majors, inner thigh and
obliques, ones that donít always get attention.
works on your alignment of the body. Someone who is well
aligned, standing with ears over shoulders, shoulders over
hips, it creates a fit look from the start. Your shoulders are
not rounded," says Elisabeth Halfpapp, a former dancer
who, with her husband, created the Core Fusion barre exercise
method, each studio has its own style, some focusing more on
cardiovascular workouts, some more on yoga. But barre has some
core notions that play out in most studios. There are workouts
at the barre and on mats to work specific parts of the body
ó thighs, for example. Position and alignment are key. Thereís
lots of clenching of glute muscles and pulling belly buttons
in toward the spine.
Egbert, 25, owns a Pure Barre studio in North Hollywood, one
of 300 Pure Barre locations. Her hourlong class is full of
exact, muscle-isolating movements in the companyís
structured program of warm-ups, thigh exercises, "seat
lifters" and other moves. "You should be thrashed by
the end," she says. I was.
nerd out about this. It absolutely changes how you use your
body," says Egbert, who began teaching barre while a
student at University of California at Irvine. She has written
a musical anthem in tribute to Pure Barre thatís posted on
likes barreís focus on the core muscles. Working them out,
among other benefits, can help people age gracefully.
is everything. It is basically your home base of strength. ĎAbsí
used to be the buzzword, but Ďcoreí is a more encompassing
word," she says. "Every move you are doing, any
functional movement you are doing as a human being, should
come from your core."
of developing bulk in one area, you really elongate,"
says Halfpapp, whose Core Fusion Barre is found at more than
two dozen Exhale gyms. They also have 11 DVDs and a book
coming out in November.
a workout that teaches you about your body, about actively
working with your body. In those poses, you are isolating your
muscles; thatís where the focus is," says Audra Skaates,
who has been teaching barre classes since 2007 and opened the
Main Barre late in 2011. "I fell in love with the workout
and what it gave me."
key to barre classes just might be that people like them.
not aware of any studies that have been published that say itís
that method that is significantly better than any other
exercise. Any resistance-based exercise is good for the
core," says Scott Silveira, a registered clinical
exercise physiologist at the California Health and Longevity
real secret is that theyíve found a way to make exercise fun
and enjoyable," Silveira says. "I think that is
really the magic ingredient."
reason for the barre explosion is that it doesnít require
expensive equipment, such as Pilates reformers, treadmills and
weight machines. Commonly, studios have mirrors and ballet
barres along two walls. Students also use small hand weights,
stretch bands and balls.
exercise classes are traced to Lotte Berk, a dancer in Europe
who opened a studio in 1959. A student of hers brought the
workout to New York more than a decade later. Halfpapp began
teaching barre workouts in 1980, at the Lotte Berk Method
studio; at the time it was for women only. And Berk teachers
and others opened their own barre businesses ó lots of them.
popularity is that people feel like theyíre not really
working out," Hagendorf says. "Itís for all
levels: dancers and those who never danced."