The beginners guide to Barre

The Beginners Guide to Barre Classes

Barre is an accessible and beginner-friendly form of exercise for everyone, regardless of skill or fitness level. In this blog, we’ll walk through how barre was created, basic barre movements and terms, equipment used in barre classes, the unique benefits of barre classes, and explain everything you need to know before taking your first barre class.

What is Barre?

Barre was created in the 1950s by Lotte Berk, a ballerina who, after sustaining a back injury, began combining her traditional ballet routines with rehabilitative therapy exercises. Since then, barre has developed into a popular form of full-body exercise that combines movements and positions borrowed from ballet with low-impact, repetitive strength exercises.

Understanding Basic Barre Movements & Terms

Because barre borrows movements from ballet, several terms and movements may be unfamiliar to beginners. However, no prior dance experience or knowledge is required to participate in barre—you’ll get the hang of it in no time. To get you started, here are some common barre movements and terms to know:

Common Barre Positions:

  •  First Position: Standing on the floor with your heels touching and your toes apart, forming a narrow V shape.
  •  Second Position: Standing on the floor with your feet slightly wider than shoulder distance and your toes slightly pointing on an outward diagonal (also sometimes called “wide second”).
  •  Parallel: Standing on the floor with your feet straight and facing forward (like the number 11), either together or hip-width apart.
  • Neutral Spine: A relaxed position where your back is perfectly in line from the tailbone to the spine to the neck and head, not straining in either direction.

    Common Barre Movements:

  • Pulse: A small, controlled muscle movement typically done to the beat of music. Pulses involve a small range of motion, often indicated by the phrase “up an inch, down an inch.”
  • Relevé: Taken from ballet, this instruction simply means to lift your heel(s) off the ground.
  • Point/Flex: A point means to extend your toes pointing away from your body, lengthening your leg muscles outward. The opposite of a point, a flex means to pull your toes upward toward your body, stretching your calves and hamstrings.
  • Plié: Also from ballet, a plié indicates bending the knees then straightening them again, typically with hips and feet turned outward and the heels pressed together.

Gear and Equipment Used in Barre Classes

There are two pieces of equipment unique to barre classes: a ballet-style barre often used for support during exercises and a stall barre, which is a tall piece of exercise equipment with rungs of various heights often used for stretching and corrective exercises.

While many barre movements require only your body weight, barre instructors may incorporate light hand or ankle weights, resistance bands, exercise ballers, or sliders to further challenge and tone your muscles.

The Benefits of Barre

Barre is often praised for its ability to help isolate and tone lean muscle throughout all parts of the body, including your core, glutes, arms, and thighs/legs. The use of repeated slow, small movements allows you to work these muscles in a more focused way than traditional strength training exercises and target deeper muscles that high-intensity workouts might miss.

In addition to gaining strength and toning muscles, barre exercises help to increase flexibility, build a stronger core, and improve posture and balance. This increased mobility and range of motion are not only helpful for your workouts, but for the quality of your everyday life. The low-impact movements of barre are also easier on your joints than high-impact strength training, which means quicker recovery times and a lessened chance of injury.

Like all forms of exercise, barre is beneficial for overall physical health and longevity. And because of the emphasis on the mind-body connection, barre is also known for increasing mental clarity and reducing stress through the release of endorphins.

What to Expect from Your First Barre Class

What to Wear: Women should wear a supportive sports bra with an exercise tank top or fitted shirt. We like the bra built into our tanks for barre class. We listed our favorite barre tank that we have in every color below! For bottoms, fitted capris, leggings, or exercise pants are all appropriate, but wearing shorts is discouraged.

Most barre classes require grip/sticky socks, as no shoes are worn during the class.After testing various barre socks, we’re excited to recommend the absolute best. Our tried-and-true selection ensures unparalleled stability during your barre workout, offering a secure grip that outperforms other options. Crafted with the toes cut out, these Tucketts Allegro socks have proven to be the top choice in our assessments, providing the ideal balance of comfort and functionality.

What to Bring: All of the equipment needed for your class will be provided, except barre socks and hydration.

What to Expect: While classes vary in style and length, all barre classes will focus on a variety of mobility, range of motion, and strength/toning exercises. In most classes, these exercises will be timed to the beat of music.

Barre classes often rotate through sections focusing on arms, core/abs, and lower body, repeating small isometric movements until all muscle groups are fatigued and end with a cooldown/stretching period.

Modern barre studios in Grand Rapids may offer fusion classes that combine barre with another form of exercise such as cardio barre, HIIT barre, or pilates and barre. If it’s your first time taking a barre class in Grand Rapids, consider arriving a few minutes early to get familiar with the equipment and to ask any questions about the class format to the instructor. Your barre instructor is an expert there to help you succeed and get the most out of your class.

Ready to hit the barre in GR? Schedule a barre class at Fever | Yoga Cycle Strength today.

Disclosure: As an amazon associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

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What is Vinyasa Yoga

What is Vinyasa Yoga?

Vinyasa Yoga 101

So you’ve taken a Vinyasa Yoga Class and may have even heard your favorite teacher call out “take your Vinyasa”. This can be confusing. The term Vinyasa actually has a few different meanings that are used quite frequently and are not mutually exclusive.

The word Vinyasa can be translated into arranging something in a special way, such as yoga poses. Vinyasa is one of many different styles of yoga and is a practice where we link the breath with movement. We coordinate and flow poses together from one pose to the next and do each set of poses on each side of the body.

Before transitioning to the other side of the body we hear the teacher call out “take your Vinyasa” or “take your Chatarunga”. This means that we move through the transitioning poses of Downdog, Plank, Cobra/Updog, and then back to Downdog to neutralize the body before beginning the other side. These transitional poses are part of the tradition of yoga and have been practiced this way for thousands of years. So again, linking poses together using the breath. These 4 poses are linked together as transitions and are considered a “Vinyasa”.

Vinyasa is one of the most popular styles of yoga

We understand why Vinyasa Yoga has become so popular. It’s a momentum style practice that burns calories, kicks up your heart rate, AND builds strength and flexibility. What’s not to love?

By consciously flowing with breath and movement we anchor ourselves in the present moment. It is often referred to in classical yoga as the “breathing system”.

Vinyasa Yoga Classes are always different

There is a ton of variety in Vinyasa Yoga Classes. Normally, no two yoga classes are the same. Teachers choreograph and link together poses that open certain areas of the body. Some days you may work hips and quads, other days shoulders, core or low back. Some days, you get a mixed bag where you get a little bit of everything! Almost certain though, you will get a spine lengthening and strengthening session regardless if you work the upper or lower body. All yoga poses revolve around the axis of the spine.

There is a saying in yoga…

‘Age is not defined by a number but by the flexibility of your spine’

We agree wholeheartedly~

There are many styles of yoga to explore

Hatha yoga is a set of postures for physical and mental exercise used to open up the channels of the body. “Ha” means sun and “tha” means moon. We balance the sun (masculine) and moon (feminine) energies of the body to develop strength and flexibility. This is a transformation style of yoga that focuses on the 8 limbs of yoga designed by Patanjali, the Father of Yoga.

Restorative yoga is where we utilize gravity and many props to hold poses for long periods of time. These poses are normally close to the ground or practiced on the belly, seat or back. It is the opposite of a “yang” practice which revolves around dynamic energy. This practice is meant to offer up more stillness and challenge the mind by slowing down.

Ashtanga yoga was the first style of yoga and is the foundation that all yoga derived. It was developed by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in the early 1900’s. Ashtanga Yoga is a progressive set of postures or asanas that is linked together with the breath to induce an internal heat that purifies the muscles and organs. It is the same set of postures each time. This yoga creates a strong body and calm mind. There are 3 sets or series in Ashtanga Yoga. The short-form primary series is usually what is taught in most yoga studios that offer Ashtanga Yoga.

There are several other types of yoga to explore such as Kundalini Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jiva Mukti Yoga and more. Finding the right fit for your lifestyle is key.