ClassPass 101: Everything You Need to Know About Barre

Think barre class is just for ballerinas? Think again. You may have childhood memories of taking ballet and spending half the class with one hand on the barre twirling back and forth, but barre has been taken to the next level.

This workout focuses on small movements and targets muscles you didn’t even know you had. The challenge is, sometimes the moves are so small that you don’t know what they are and can’t even look around for help. Intimidated? Don’t be! Here is everything you need to know before you hit your first barre workout, along with studio recommendations in your city:

How to prepare

Barre is an intense workout that can leave you sore for days, though you don’t necessarily get super sweaty. Translation: It’s a great way to start your day if you have something planned for after work or don’t want to head to the office with wet hair. Just be careful about scheduling any heavy-duty classes for the next couple of days, especially ones that focus on your legs or bottom. Make sure to stretch heavily, even just in your bed before you get ready, to make sure you’re limber and ready to point, point, point and point again in class.

What to wear

You don’t need a leotard or professional dancer leggings, but you do need some barre socks. They’ll keep you from sliding around on the floor and help give you balance on the ballet barre when your legs are lifted off the ground. While socks are required in the majority of barre classes, sticky socks are often preferred. Most studios sell socks, but check their website to make sure. Some barre studios also enforce dress codes, so to be safe, don’t wear any midriff-baring workout gear.

What to bring

Barre exercises use lots of props. They typically incorporate a ball, a mat, a resistance band and weights. The good news is, the studios will have everything you need. Just bring yourself, your sticky socks and your water bottle.

When you arrive

As with all classes, try to arrive 10-15 minutes early so you can stretch and ask any questions you have, especially if it’s your first time to a studio. At the start of class, most barre teachers will ask if there are any first-timers, in which case, raise your hand! If they don’t ask, make it a point to seek the teacher out beforehand and let them know you’ve never done this type of workout before. Since the movements are small and precise, the instructor will be able to focus extra attention on you and make sure you’re doing all the moves correctly. Generally, you’ll know instantly if you’ve got it right since you’ll feel the burn.

What to expect

Believe it or not, barre is typically a full-body workout. Expect to work every part of your body — from your arms and legs to your seat and abs. The class is usually broken up to focus on each area separately, both on and off of the barre. Once you feel like you’ve worked your arms as much as possible, they’ll move on to another body part and focus on that.

When reading the class descriptions, look for barre fusion classes, which incorporate yoga, cardio or even boxing.

What to do next

Congrats! You’ve completed your first barre class. Make sure to stretch afterward, although there will likely be a stretch portion at the end of your class. You may begin to feel sore right away, but don’t worry — that’s normal. Listen to your body and schedule your next class wisely!