The Truth Behind Barre

Angie Omata

Co-Founder / Creative Director at simplyWORKOUT
Angie Omata

At this point, (unless if you’ve been living under a workout rock), you’ve heard of Barre. Maybe you’re still unsure of what a Barre class looks like, or you’re a bit intimidated to try a “dancer’s workout” because pointing your toes doesn’t come naturally to you. Regardless, we’re hear to clear up a few Barre myths or misconceptions and hopefully to get you to try one of our go-to workouts.

Myth 1: You need to be a dancer to take a Barre class.

Although the technique finds it’s roots in ballet (founded by an ex-ballerina, Lotte Berk, decades ago), and although you do most work at a barre, the workout is made for all fitness levels – dance background not needed.  That said, if you’ve spent your life studying ballet, you probably will find some of the positions and terms more familiar during class (“wide second”, “passe”, “plie”), but that’s no different from a seasoned bootcamper being able to do “burpees” and “mountain climbers” in her sleep.  Once you have a class or two under your belt, you’ll start to pick up the lingo and the technique, and you won’t feel like a fish out of water.  You won’t be memorizing crazy choreography, or doing solo jumps or spins in class.  In fact, most of your class will be spent on a mat or at your favorite spot at the barre with a light set of hand weights, a ball, and some bands.



Myth 2: Barre is an easy workout.

There’s a reason why people keep going back to their favorite barre studios. It’s not because the class is a walk in the park, or because they like looking at themselves in the full length mirrors.  It’s because of the undeniable results that come with committing to the barre.  I’ve been an avid exerciser my whole life – running, boot camps, kickboxing, pilates – but when I took my first barre class, I remember my legs shaking, my core on fire, and my general sense of disbelief that women would voluntarily subject themselves to such an intense workout on a regular basis.  I’m sure that a few unfiltered guttural sighs and eye rolls came out during that first class (and at every class that has since followed over the last 6 years of my barre career).

But the next day and the weeks following, I came to realize how effective of a workout barre really is – targeting every muscle group and working parts of the body that I didn’t know I could work.  The seemingly harmless, tiny isometric movements (“up an inch, down an inch” and the fundamental “tuck” (pelvic tilt) that define barre, really garner results.  Think lean, toned muscles, better posture and increased flexibility, aka, that coveted dancers body.


Myth 3: You’ll need a leotard and dance slippers to take barre.

Most girls (and guys) wear typical workout gear in barre classes. You won’t be sporting pink tights, tutus and ballet slippers. Rather, leggings and tanks with a favorite sports bra are the norm.  Most studios will require that you wear grip socks to keep the floors clean and to keep from slipping during some of the trickier moves where you pull off the barre (like “waterski”).  There will likely be a lot of Lululemon and cute, stylish leggings and barre socks going on as many barre studios have their own boutiques to peruse before and after class.  Although your credit card may get some unneeded exercise in the process, eyeing your comrades’ stylish outfits and the merchandise beckoning to you outside will become a welcome distraction as you work through the toughest parts of class.  


Q&A with Emi Jay Founders, Julianne Goldmark and Emily Matson


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