Most people aren’t sure of whether or not barre is actually a good workout. With lofty promises (“Tone up, slim down!”) and isometric movements sometimes invisible to the eye (“Is this actually doing anything?”), it’s all too easy to pass over the low-impact studio workout for something you know will make you sweat, like a run in the summer heat.
But that’s a mistake. Performed correctly and with proper form, barre’s ballet-inspired moves will challenge your entire body, firing up your under-used muscles, recruiting your core, and giving you that long and lean look.
In fact, Becca Lucas, the owner of Barre & Anchor, a barre studio in Weston, MA, says barre-goers can expect a more toned body, improved posture, increased flexibility, improved range of motion, and muscle endurance.
Don’t believe us? Next time you feel like switching up your workout, try Lucas’ five favorite (and seriously challenging) moves. Common exercises in any barre studio class, they promise to have you feeling the burn—and reaping the results—in no time.
Note: To complete these moves, you will need a sturdy piece of furniture and a mat.
1. Forearm Plank
Come down to the floor or a mat on your forearms. Elbows should be under the shoulders and feet should be hip-width apart and parallel. Hips and shoulders should be in a straight line, chin off the chest, and the core pulled up and in. Hold in stillness 30 seconds. Alternate bending the knees 30 seconds (keeping the hips still). Hold in stillness 30 seconds.
2. High V
Holding onto a chair or counter, bring your heels together and toes apart in a narrow ‘V’. Rise up to your tip toes, glue the heels together, bend your knees and sink down toward knee level. Move down an inch and up an inch for 30 seconds.
Pulse down for 30 seconds. Hold for 10 seconds. “Keep shoulders relaxed away from the ears and your shoulders stacked over your hips,” says Lucas.
3. Extension Parallel
Holding onto a chair or the counter, bring your feet hip-width apart and parallel, extend the right leg out in front of you straight with a pointed toe (make sure your knee is facing the ceiling). Soften the standing knee and keep the core tight. Draw dime-sized circles for 30 seconds. Reverse direction for 30 seconds. Lift up 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg. “Think length before height. Neck and shoulders stay relaxed,” says Lucas.
4. Round Back
Lie on the floor or a mat and prop yourself up onto your forearms with your elbows under your shoulders. Palms should be flat on the floor. Raise your legs up over your hips and bring them into a diamond position with your toes together. Keeping your core pulled in, lower your legs to your point of control. Squeeze your knees together then open back into a diamond position 30 seconds. Repeat twice. “Try and keep your lower back on the floor or mat at all times,” says Lucas.
5. Standing Turnout
Hold onto a steady piece of furniture about elbows-distance away. Bring your heels together, toes apart. Extend your right leg back on the diagonal straight with a pointed toe. Soften the standing knee and pull the abs in. “Right knee is turned slightly to the right, leg should be behind the hip, chest lifted,” says Lucas. Lift the leg up an inch, down an inch 30 seconds. Lift to the tempo 30 seconds. Hold at the top, rise to your tip toes, and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.