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Barre is becoming all the rage in the fitness world. But what exactly is it? Although barre originated from dance, you don’t need to have a dance background to participate—it’s a low-impact fitness workout that anyone can do. The exercises develop long, lean muscles (similar to a ballerina’s) as well as increase flexibility and improve balance. Barre is a great way to work muscles you may not normally focus on—and to earn that drink at the other bar later on.
Barre is all about micro movements—the smaller the better. The point is to fatigue the muscles quickly and break them down so they grow back leaner. That’s why your starting position will be something like a deep bend, from which you’ll pulse, lift and tuck slightly to really hit those muscles. You might shake like crazy, but the more you shake the faster your muscles will fatigue. Don’t be alarmed, that means it’s working. The best thing to do? Breathe, embrace it and try to stay in the position as long as you can.
Just because barre is low-impact doesn’t mean it’s any less of a workout. Expect to burn anywhere between 200 and 600 calories in one class—and your muscles will continue working and burning them even after you’ve left the studio. It’s a total body workout, so you’re always working multiple areas at once. Plus, you can constantly push your limits by increasing your weights.
Like many workouts, your breath is crucial for getting through the tough parts of barre. Consistently exhaling sharply will not only send strength to where you need it, but will also help you focus on something other than giving up. The more you breathe, the more you tell your body that you’ve got this (smiling helps, too).
Nothing lifts your spirits higher during a tough sequence than turning to a friend and exchanging that “What have we gotten ourselves into?” look. Feed off the energy of the class, groove to the music and maybe make a new friend in the process. Don’t forget to high five them at the end and celebrate what you’ve accomplished together.
Barre classes share a similar foundation of movements, so after a few you’ll have a general idea of what to expect and the target areas you’ll hit (though the actual moves will always change). Depending on your studio and instructor, the order of movements varies, too. To give you an idea, here is one example of how a class may flow.
You’ll start with a warmup that gets you familiar with lifting to a beat. From there, your instructor may throw in some light bicep curls or squats. Next is a push-up and plank series, followed by arm sequences using weights (shoulders and biceps and triceps, oh my).
At this point, you may be eyeing the door and planning your escape, but hold tight! The best part about a barre class is that it follows a pattern: after every challenging portion of class you’ll take a rewarding stretch.
Once your work on arms is over, you’ll move to the barre for some stretches that boost your flexibility. Then, it’s right back to work with a lengthy sequence focused on your thighs, typically using a resistance band or ball. This can be one of the most difficult parts of the class, but afterwards you’ll balance it out by stretching your hamstrings and hip flexors.
You may feel tired but you’re not done yet—glutes are next. Push through these last sets, and you’ll surely feel it the next day. Last on the list are your abs (as if you haven’t been using them this whole time) and some back-building exercises.
Whew! You made it. Now enjoy some relaxing final stretches and cleansing breaths—you’ve earned them. If you find a studio you like and return frequently, you’ll get to know their sequence better and better. Or, if you’re the type who likes to explore different places around you (on the MINDBODY app), your experience could be something new every time!
That’s something I never expected to hear. Think about it: we join gyms and studios because of their equipment, instructors, space, community (and AC, of course). But who’s to say we can’t get all that—or at least most of it—with virtual and online classes, too? In this new wave of wellness, we’re all switching up our fitness routines as we switch up our everyday schedules and habits. It’s not just in-studio or at-home anymore. It’s in-studio, at-home, at the park, beach, parking lot, rooftop...virtual, hybrid, Instagram Live, online, on-demand, and so much more. As we’re adapting, adjusting, finding our groove, etc., online gym memberships enter the fray. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
There are tons of benefits to an online gym membership, especially right now.
Let’s break this down:
1. Scheduling convenience
A virtual/online gym fitness membership is a monthly subscription that gives you access to tons of live stream fitness classes you can take anywhere, from studios across the globe. These fitness studios offer tons of at-home workouts, group exercise, and one-on-one training sessions to choose from, no matter your exercise program or fitness level. With so many options, it’s easy to find one that fits your schedule. Whether you want to fit in a morning flow before work, combat that afternoon slump with some cardio, squeeze in some strength training before dinner, or wind down with an evening barre class, you can pick and choose classes to fit your fitness routine.
2. Minimizing exposure to COVID-19
And because they’re online, you can take these classes from the comfort of your home (or wherever you are), thus minimizing your exposure to COVID-19 and eliminating your commute to the gym or studio. By now, many of us have our designated “workout spot,” whether it’s an actual weight room, a quick scooch of the coffee table, or a grassy area in the backyard. Maybe you’re comfortable here... maybe you’ve even learned to love it.
With an online gym membership, you can stay in your safe space/comfy workout spot. Or, you can go somewhere new (local park, beach spot, a different area of the house, you know). You can access these virtual, live stream fitness classes from any device, so you can prop up your phone, laptop, or tablet wherever you want to go, or roll out your mat in front of the big screen TV in your living room.
We all have our favorite, go-to workouts. But sometimes, it feels good to switch it up (especially right now). Working from home all day, many of us are craving some variety and excitement, and an online gym membership can definitely help with that. According to our recent poll about COVID’s effect on our fitness routines, 64% of you have tried new online workouts since the start of the pandemic—I know I have. Maybe it’s because trying new things is easier in the comfort of our homes, maybe we’re finally able to try some classes we normally can’t find locally, or maybe we’re all just bored out of our minds...I don’t know. But I’m excited about it.
With an online gym membership, you can get that spice you’re looking for easily. Start out your Monday by hitting some HIIT, ease your sore muscles with some Restorative Yoga, and end the week with some dance cardio to pretend you’re at the club. The world is yours.
4. Working out without a commute
My favorite part? No commute. There are literally no more excuses when it comes to skipping workouts. No traffic, no schedule conflicts, no fear of returning to the studio. You don’t even have to worry about packing a gym bag with a change of clothes and shower supplies or prepping a snack or protein shake to bring to work. Just shut your computer, throw on some leggings, and get to work.
Community—the element of online fitness memberships we don’t often think of. When we go into studios, we understand the beauty of a fitness community. We’re greeted by our instructors, we chat with others in the class, and we all sweat together and encourage each other throughout. But working out at home is different... or is it?
We can do workouts on our own at home all we want, but we’re definitely going to miss out on the community aspect we all know and love. But, with live stream classes, we can create a different kind of community. The beauty of it? It’s not just your neighbors anymore. Anyone with an online fitness membership can join these classes, regardless of where they’re located in relation to the studio, so you can be working out alongside people from all over the world—now that’s something I can get behind.