Taught and executed properly, Barre classes are known for building strength, flexibility, endurance, lean thighs, lifted bums, toned abdominals and sculpted arms, backs and upper bodies. There are very few muscles a Barre class does not engage. But not all Barre classes are created equally.
Many of the higher quality Barre methods and classes are based on the grounding principles of the original Barre exercises, and those that have been improved upon, to maintain a commitment to proper form, exercise safety and most importantly, results.
But many others have been created in a weekend of workshop training, or rely too heavily on moving quickly to elevate the heart rate instead of combining movement with stillness, i.e. getting deep into the muscular work.
Some classes are taught using predetermined choreography and often sound like they are “scripted”. You will recognize them as you get the same exercises, same cues, and perhaps the same music in every class…for a week, for a month or until their corporate parents/franchise tell them that it’s time to change.
The reason? The instructor likely does not have the qualifications to teach a multi-level class to a room filled with different shapes, sizes, ages and physical abilities.
Ask yourself about your current Barre practice, or other exercise routine:
1. Does the instructor know you by name and is familiar with your body and its possible limitations? It’s easier to “perform” a scripted class …but the ability for an instructor to identify and address what you as an individual student needs while at the same time motivating 20 other students, demonstrates a deeper level of expertise, wisdom and compassion.
2. Is form and alignment a priority? It should be. Working in misaligned form is ineffective; you simply won’t get the most out of any exercise if done improperly. Worse yet, it puts undue pressure on the joints, and can lead to injury.
3. Does the instructor use hands-on adjustments not only to provide modifications, but also to push you out of your go-to zone to realize elevated results to your work? New students, AND veterans, should be continuously pushed to achieve their next fitness level – working beyond your comfort, but not to the point of pain, to build muscular strength and endurance.
4. Does the class offer holds in positions, and strength is stillness? When we move too quickly in our positions, or bounce, we detract from the beneficial work in the muscle and rely too heavily on the momentum that moves us higher and/or lower. Positions that challenge stillness allow the muscle to contract in a deeper way, and are important core stabilizers.
5. Does the class offer varied ranges of motion? It should. While tiny repetitive movements, like pulsing, are known to build muscular strength over time, incorporating multi-range motions in more than one muscular group without resting will help build muscular endurance. Both endurance and strength building are crucial, especially as we age, and they fortify your ability to move in an intelligent, functional way all day long, in real life.
6. Does the class offer ample time to stretch to promote flexibility and keep the muscles malleable? Stretching is strengthening. Some stretches should occur at the beginning of an exercise series – as in preparatory – others occur at the end of a series – as in recovery. Both are equally important to your health and well-being, reducing injury and maintaining your flexibility as you age.
7. Does the class promote a healthy spine? The safest position for the spine is the neutral spine for most Barre exercises. A neutral spine best mirrors proper alignment and how we should carry our posture throughout our daily lives. An occasional use of the pelvic tuck – to prevent taking an exercise into the lower back – and back arching when combined with mostly neutral spine will give you the healthiest and best result.
8. Is there an emphasis on building stability and balance? This happens in the position holds – for example, on the floor (i.e. plank) or at the Barre. Balance makes up one of the four pillars of a well-rounded fitness routine, in combination with cardio, strength training and flexibility. All elements should be found a Barre class worthy of your money.
9. Finally, does the instructor remind you what NOT to do, either through words or touch? This may be the most important differentiator in Barre programs out there. Why spend your good money negatively impacting your body, and diminishing results, when you can do that on your own for free?
Just a reminder... The BootyBarre® Corporation rigorously trains its teachers. BootyBarre® requires the instructors to either have either a professional dance background, a Pilates certification or a lengthy fitness background before even being allowed to train as a teacher. In that, it is understood that BootyBarre® teachers learn anatomy and physiology and are aware of how to work with EVERY client’s body type, age, injury or limitation. Before being certified every BootyBarre® teacher-in-training must demonstrate that she has learned and understands the BootyBarre® technique and can teach it effectively by having their class graded by the BootyBarre® creator, Tracey Mallet herself! You won’t have nearly that amount of knowledge and expertise in other methods…
I strive to give you quality tuition and in fact have just re-qualified for another year :) I am happy to receive any feedback or answer any questions you may have on classes.