Barre exercises incorporate the beauty of ballet and other dance with daily workouts that tone and whittle unwanted fat, leaving your body lean, sculpted and strong. For centuries, dancers have known the benefits of lengthening muscle groups to avoid impact and injuries to joints. Barre uses fluid movements for a 30- to 60-minute workout that will prove serious results without bulking up. Even if you’re not familiar with ballet ‘positions’ and dance vocabulary, you can do these moves by yourself at home.
Grab a chair and a dumbbell. With the dumbbell in your right hand and left hand resting on the back of a chair, stand straight with your feet parallel and touching. With toes pointed, extend your left leg behind you. Bend your right knee and bend from your hips. With your right arm, reach toward the floor, keeping your abs tight and back flat. Extend your right arm to the side while lifting your left leg up behind your hip. Lower your leg and arm. Repeat 10 to 12 times, and switch to other side.
With both hands on the back of a chair, stand with your feet together and parallel. Bend your knees into a deep squat (plié) by lowering hips. With knees touching, squeeze your inner thighs together. Keeping knees bent, lift up halfway, and then return to the plié position. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
Rest your hands gently on the back of a chair. Stand with your heels together and toes turned outward, forming a 45 degree angle (first position). With straight legs and standing tall, tighten your abs and rise onto the balls of your feet. Lower your torso halfway down and plié by bending your knees out over your toes. Straighten your legs while squeezing your inner thighs and lowering your heels. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
First-Position Leg Lifts
Barre floor exercises are effective and can be challenging. This one begins lying on your back, with your hands at your sides. Raise your feet in the air with your torso and legs at a 90-degree angle. Slowly lower your legs down until they’re one inch above the floor. Hold for as long as you can tolerate, then raise your legs back into the air. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
Begin by lying on the floor, with your legs straight up in the air and your feet turned out, as if in first position. Using your abs, lower your right leg one inch above the floor. Keeping both knees straight and your head on the floor, attempt to bring your left leg toward your face, creating a split. Hold for one count, or for as long as you’re able. Repeat 5 to 10 times. Switch to other side.
When doing barre exercises, technique is important to avoid injury and to achieve maximum results. For more information, take a class such as Pure Barre or watch demonstrations of barre exercises online for your fitness level. (We like Sweaty Betty’s complete guide to barre exercises.) If you decide to add barre exercises to your fitness routine, the results will keep you motivated.