In the early 2010’s, I got really into running and that was my primary form of fitness. I loved the adrenaline of being outdoors, running with a community during road races, and it was even a great way for me to explore new cities when I traveled. But picking up running without any proper training at my big age eventually caught up with me. My right knee started to ache, my right big toe joint started to throb, and all of a sudden running stopped being fun. Visiting my sports doc at the time, he told me I had no muscle. All I was doing to jamming bone on top of bone, and I had no stability. He told me I needed to strength train.
At the time, I was so “afraid of bulking” so I stayed away from weights. At the time barre fitness started to become extremely popular. The brands would promote developing a “lean, toned, dancers’ body.” There was a studio a few blocks from my job at the time that had a deeply discount promotion on Gilt So I decided to give it a try.
I was hooked from the beginning. While it was challenging, I loved how it made me feel, how it made my body feel, and it improved my running while reducing the pain significantly. I felt strong. I looked strong. Eventually I was showing up so much that they asked me if I’d teach. Thus began my teaching career.
Fast forward a few years and I eventually gave up teaching that particular method of barre because there were basic anatomy and alignment things I and science didn’t agree with, but I also didn’t enjoy the “community” they were fostering. I was happy to have had great relationships with individuals there, but it was pretty elitist as a whole.
While I left that method behind, there are still amazing benefits to barre fitness and I developed our Beats & Barres program to incorporate all those amazing elements, with a pilates twist.
What is barre fitness?
Barre fitness is a method of strength training that utilizes a ballet barre and incorporates ballet positions for strengthening as well as stretches. A signature of barre fitness are the small micro-movements and high repetitions to the beats of music, working your muscles to a point of fatigue.
Barre fitness was started by Lotte Berk, a German just like Joseph Pilates, back in the 1950’s as a way for her to rehab a back injury, keep her dancer figure while she wasn’t performing, and apparently also boost her sex life.
It has been adapted over the years with a number of brands creating their own versions and styles, including us.
What are the benefits of barre fitness?
In a barre class, whether it’s your first time or 400th time, you can’t avoid “the shakes”. In parts of a barre class, the high rep counts and small movements of your muscle in a constant state of contraction brings your muscles to a state of fatigue. The muscle then starts to involuntarily go in and out of contraction rapidly causing you to shake. But the more sessions you do, the longer you can fend off that occurrence or the more you can challenge yourself before getting there. This is due to building muscle endurance. Like the endurance I needed when training for the Brooklyn Half Marathon & eventually running a full 26.2 miles. Endurance is something many athletes need which is why barre fitness became popular amongst a number of football players, swimmers, and other athletes. But the average New Yorker needs this endurance as well with the way we walk miles without thinking. Having to lug heavy bags for long periods. Having to hold that pose until someone can capture the perfect shot. These all require muscular endurance that barre fitness can offer.
Circling back to my knee injury from running, our knee stabilizers are our hip muscles, inner thigh muscles, our quads & hamstrings. Major segments of a barre class focus heavily on strengthening these muscles providing more stability and less knee pain in other activities. The glutes are also a star of the show. This work combined with lengthy ab work can provide lower back relief due to strengthening these core muscles. And you can also guarantee toning of the arms utilizing 2 & 3 pound weights that end up feeling like 200 & 300 pounds by the time you’re done.
Barre fitness is a total body workout that goes beyond this false narrative of “creating a dancer’s body”. It creates a strong body, dancer or not. It creates a body that can endure more. And in a Beats & Barres class, you can be guaranteed that the playlist will be on point. I mean, what other barre class has a Prince playlist?
So go ahead and join us for a session.