I used to watch the spectacle on weekend mornings: legging-clad women, hair high atop their heads, bounding out of the barre studio and heading, presumably, for brunch. I was confident I was more hardcore than they were as I wrapped up my run, mopping sweat from my forehead.
Sure, I had tried a few one-off barre classes at different studios, ever the curious fitness enthusiast. But I hadn't noticed any real changes in muscle definition or strength, even despite complementing the classes with my usual workouts. So what made these people keep coming back?
To find out, I decided I need to do just that: start coming back.
I bought a one-month membership at a local studio and filled my calendar with a barre class most days of the week - for the whole month. A month later and 18 classes in, my skepticism is fading fast. My glutes are tight like WHOA, and I can hold a plank for over a minute and not immediately collapse afterward. Granted, I started with a decent fitness base, but I've still noticed definition in areas I'd neglected, such as the obliques and triceps. These are a few lessons I learned and am still learning - and why you should give barre a chance.
Don't Underestimate Those Tiny Movements
Think you can handle two-pound weights for a few minutes? Yeah, so did I. Start slow, even without weights. Trust me, you will notice definition in your arms even without lifting heavy weights.
Keep Correcting Form
At first, I was slightly annoyed when instructors came over because I thought I was doing exactly what they demonstrated. But a slight bend one way or a lift in a certain direction makes a big difference. Be glad when instructors help you do the moves correctly - you'll notice a difference immediately (and the next day) in the muscle you're working. And you'll minimize your risk of injury.
Try the More Difficult Option
Work with what your body can handle, but before modifying, consider trying a more difficult move or attempting a more challenging position. Even if you can't master it right away, it will remind you what you might accomplish next.
Be the Teacher's Pet
Standing on the wrong foot? Not sure whether to flex your foot or point your toe? Try to get a spot near the instructor so you spend less time confused and more time toning your muscles.
Do It Again
Learning barre moves, positions, and even stretches can be intimidating since classes often move quickly. But having taken nearly 20 classes, I can say confidently that even though barre keeps your muscles guessing, the instructions become more familiar.
Now, as I leave the barre studio in my leggings, I have noticeably stronger muscles that not only help me look great in said leggings but also make my legs stronger when I'm running, still one of my go-to activities.
I can safely say I'm a barre-liever. And you better bet I'm stronger for it.