Barre blends ballet moves with Pilates and resistance training, and it could sculpt your shape like no other workout. Begin your Barre journey with this at-home workout for beginners by Vanessa Michielon..
Vanessa Michielon is a movement specialist and founder of the Transformative Movement Method. Encouraging people to embrace yoga, Pilates and dance via her pop-up events and @vanessamichielon on Instagram, she knows all the secrets for making the Barre method work for you.
What is barre?
A fusion of ballet, Pilates, yoga, dance and strength training, the Barre method was created by London ballerina Lotte Berk in the 1950s. ‘Barre is a low-impact, full-body workout set to the beat of the music, which uses strength training techniques to exhaust the muscles and improve active range of motion,’ says Michielon.
‘One of its signature features is the famous muscular “burn” or shake caused by frequent isometric holds.’ These type of moves, in which you hold an exercise for a period of time, are effective not only at building endurance but also carving out mental resilience and concentration. So, by the end of the practice you’ll feel more empowered and confident.
Barre for beginners
Using minimal kit and light weights such as Pilates balls, resistance bands and gliders, Barre is the perfect workout for beginners to try at home. ‘It will improve your posture and is also a great way to enhance your balance, as you shift weight from one foot to the other,’ explains Michielon. ‘It also forces you to pay extreme attention to the alignment of your knees and toes, reducing the risk of injury when playing sports and performing explosive movements.’
Featured in studios across the country, the pace of each Barre session varies from slower and steadier workouts, to HIIT-inspired ones, but almost each Barre session will incorporate quick cardio bursts and some isometric movements.
Want to give it a go? Here’s a beginner-friendly Barre workout to try at home…
At-home barre workout for beginners
Good for: Opening the hips, plus mid-glute, ankle, quad and inner thigh strength
- Start with one hand on the barre or a similar height ledge(try a desk or kitchen worktop), then place your heels together and turn your knees and toes slightly apart.
- Lift your heels, keeping them connected, then bend your knees until you can comfortably keep your tailbone pointing downwards and your spine in neutral.
- Gently draw your knees backwards and hold, or make tiny pulses of your knees backwards to create even more space in your groin area. Progress to wider knees and prayer hands
Good for: Quad, calves and ankle strength, plus lengthening the hip flexors and improving balance
- Stand with your feet parallel and hip-width apart, then step one foot backwards and bend both knees until your front knee is over your front ankle and your back knee is below your hips, creating a 90-degree angle.
- Lower your back knee as far as possible without touching it on the ground, keeping the backheel lifted.
- Raise your arms overhead, keeping your spine neutral and shoulders away from your ears. Your hips, shoulders, knees and toes are still pointing forward and your abdominals are engaged.
- Raise your front heel slowly up and lower it down to challenge your balance until you feel your thighs are well engaged.
Good for: Ankle stability, balance, plus quad, inner thigh and mid-glute strength
- Rest one hand on your barre or chair/ledge, and extend the other arm out sideways.
- From a small ‘V’ position (heels together and toes slightly apart), step the outside foot backwards and align the back toes with your front heel, maintaining a rotation in your thighs. Your back heel is lifted, and your hips and shoulders are facing forwards.
- Bend your knees as much as possible and keep your weight centred. Your spine is in neutral and your abdominals are engaged.
- Extend both legs, squeezing your inner thighs and tilting your upper body towards your barre/ledge, while lifting your outside arm overhead (above right).
- Return to the starting position and repeat with a faster tempo for alow-impact cardio burst.
Good for: Ankle stability, balance, plus oblique, quad, inner thigh and calf strength
- Face your barre or chair/ledge and lightly rest both hands on it. Put your feet together, turn 90-degrees away from the chair, lift your heels and bend your knees until your legs are working.
- Make sure your chest and shoulders are still facing forward, and that your head is in line with hips and hips in line with toes. This will mean you are in an active twist through the waistline.
- Squeeze your inner thighs, imagining you have a sponge in-between your knees, and release – this will activate your inner thighs more. Repeat.
Good for: Back, hamstrings, core, mid-glute and glute max strength
- Facing the barre/chair, rest both hands on it, then step backwards until you can fully extend your arms, keeping your spine parallel to the floor; your knees are bent and your feet are comfortably under your hips.
- Join your heels together, with toes slightly apart, and lengthen one leg behind you maintaining an external rotation. Your spine is neutral and your abdominals are engaged.
- Lengthen your leg even more by pointing through your toes and lifting the leg in line with your spine, then lower it back down to lightly tap the floor. You can allow a slight twist in your hips as you repeat the movement.