If you’ve ever skimmed over the barre options in your local class schedules to find a more intense workout, you’re not alone. As a former collegiate athlete, I was right there with you 10 years ago. Barre often gets a reputation for being an easier workout option that’s primarily geared toward women. I’m here as a trainer to tell you that those misconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth! This week, I’m cracking some common myths that surround this incredible and very valuable form of exercise. There are so many hidden benefits you may have missed that could be exactly what you’re seeking in your favorite ways to sweat and get stronger.
‘It’s mainly bodyweight exercises, so you won’t get as strong as you would in a strength training class.’
True and false. Building effective strength doesn’t always require heavy lifting. While barre classes are focused on bodyweight or minimal weight and equipment, it doesn’t mean they’re any less effective. Barre workouts focus on our core stabilizing muscles, which helps us build the proper foundation and endurance for more complex loaded workouts like kettlebells or CrossFit. Many common injuries in higher-impact workouts can be completely alleviated by building a strong core and lower body and proper movement form, all of which barre teaches us! Try adding a barre class to your weekly routine to see your exercises in other classes improve, and your ability to grab heavier weights in CrossFit or boot camp classes happen even quicker.
‘I’m not getting any cardio in!’
This is a myth that spans across all lower-impact forms of exercise, especially barre. We get cardiovascular benefits from all forms of exercise, as our heart has to work to perform any movement, whether that’s running, spinning or ballet barre-based workouts. If you want to increase your heart rate, follow your movements with your breath: exhale at the hardest part of the exercise and inhale to reset. Speeding up your movements will also give you increased cardiovascular results. Never hold your breath during exercises, as your body needs the oxygen to perform as well as burn calories. If you’re a hard-core cardio lover, opt for barre classes from studios like Avant Barre or Wicked Barre which give added HIIT punch to your typical barre routine.
‘You can’t build athletic agility.’
As a former collegiate athlete, I feel you. But hear me out: Balance and body awareness are two of the most important pieces of mastering more explosive movements. What builds those? Barre. To demystify this particular myth, I want to share a personal story with you. After years of pushing myself through more explosive workouts without building from the foundation, I found myself chronically injured and slower as a result. It wasn’t until I graduated college and started taking barre classes to ease back into running that I discovered this recipe for success. Through small and deliberate movements and the expert corrections of my instructors, I was able to build a level of body and muscle awareness that I would never get from a typical high-impact workout. Today, when I perform more complex and higher-impact exercises, my body performs and braces more efficiently as a result of muscle memory.
‘Barre is a women-only form of exercise.’
To my guys out there, let me spin this one for you. Have you ever pulled muscles from a heavy leg day at the gym? Yep, me too. Strained or pulled muscles are often a result of inflexibility, which can be almost completely solved by active stretching techniques. How does this relate to barre? It’s at the forefront of the workout! Barre exercises are an incredible way to actively build flexibility and don’t require remembering to stretch at the end of your workout or, worse, at the end of a long day at work. If you’re recovering from a pulled muscle and are ready to get back into the workout game, try a barre class, and start building your squat and deadlift flexibility from the ground up. You’ll be shocked at how awesome your form (and lifting PR) will be after a few months of careful attention to these details!