Ever heard of Physique 57, Pure Barre, The Bar Method, or Barre3? I thought so. In the last few years, barre classes have been popping up, well, everywhere. And ballet dancers are in killer shape, so why wouldn’t you want to work out just like them?

Well, that’s not exactly what a barre class is. You don’t need any dance skills, sense of rhythm, or the ability to stand en pointe to take a barre class. Instead, you show up at a studio (or your school’s athletic center), pick up some light hand weights, and perform a lot of reps of some very small movements.

If you’re anything like me, this sounds like no big deal. But it’s a lot harder than it sounds. Here’s how it went for me…

First stage: Nonchalance

“Just grab a mat from the cabinet and some weights that feel light. Maybe two or three pounds,” said the cheery instructor. 

Two or three pounds? I use more than that for, well, everything. I got this.

I headed to my mat with my tiny weight and was totally ready for whatever she threw at us.

Second stage: Doubt

It turns out that those 2-pound weights feel heavy when you’ve been pulsing your arms and inch up and an inch down for over a minute. And then the instructor says, “Just twelve more!”

Just twelve?

Third stage: Disbelief

How am I not breaking a sweat? I mean, I don’t sweat a whole lot unless I really get my heart rate up, but a solid yoga class will at least make me warm. This? Nope. But it was hard!

What you’ll notice is that all of the moves in barre are very tiny. They’re called isometric movements, and they activate the muscle a lot without tearing it. Since you aren’t working the big muscles you might be used to working in HIIT or heavy lifting, you likely aren’t getting your heart rate up much. You’re still working hard, but you probably won’t be sweating. Don’t worry – it’s still a workout!

Fourth stage: Relief

To recap: my legs were shaking and lifting my arms felt nearly impossible. But after some core work, it was over. I collapsed on the mat with grace.

Fifth stage: Confidence

I did it! I’m practically a ballerina and the New York City Ballet is totally going to start recruiting me.

Wait. You actually need to do more than take a barre class for that? Oh. Well, it was still a solid workout. 

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About The Author

Ellen is a second year economics major at the University of Chicago, and she is originally from Columbus, Ohio. Her favorite things include writing, hockey, Ohio State football, tea, Diet Coke, photography, cooking and baking, yoga and running, and food and fitness in general. She talks a lot about all of these things on her blog, My Uncommon Everyday. She considers herself a connoisseur of pizza, nut butter, and dark chocolate.

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