Combining classical dance moves with strength-based training, barre classes are continuing to be a major trend in the fitness world.
But if you are worried that you don't have a dance background or the routines will be too easy, think again insists Rachel Lopez, barre trainer at BLOK (bloklondon.com).
"The only difference between Barre and any other strength class at BLOK is how it's programmed and the equipment we use. Barre has higher reps, with less weight but fundamentally the movements are the same - squats, lunges and presses," she comments. "Those movements alone can be executed by any individual - regardless of their gender. So, do not fear that barre class or shy away from it if it's your gender that's holding you back - the movements we do are no different from those of any other class. We just heighten the way you do them."
Barre classes can be beneficial to people looking to strengthen their glute and core muscles and want to sculpt and tone their arms without the bulk, those seeking a new way to incorporate strength classes into their training, wanting a high intensity and low impact class, as well as those who are pregnant or recovering from injury.
"For those recovering from an injury, the best way to start exercising again is to start with low impact, steady-paced exercises. Barre is exactly that. There is never too much pressure on the joints. Everything can be modified to suit," the expert continues. "You strengthen all the important stabiliser muscles using your own body weight. Injury often comes from poor form. Barre is wonderful for improving your overall posture and technique within movements."
As for trying out barre moves at home, Rachel recommends working on the abductor squeeze and pulse to target inner thighs.
Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart.
1. Place a Pilates ball/rolled-up small towel/ small cushion in between your thighs, just above the knees.
2. Bend your knees slowly.
3. Your upper body will want to naturally hinge forward slightly from your hips.
4. Keep your shoulders back, chest open, and head high.
5. Hold this stance and start to squeeze the ball repeatedly by pressing your knees inwards to meet each other, or to the beat of your favourite song. Vary the tempo for intensity.
6. This is your abductor squeeze.
7. To intensify and target your quads and glutes, hold onto that squeeze as you pulse up and down.
8. Keeping your knees bent, moving one inch up and down repeatedly.
9. This is your squeeze and pulse.
10. Hold onto that squeeze - the sensation will intensify and your legs will shake.