Surprise your muscles with this unique ballet-derived workout.
Experts agree: Do the same workout again and again, and your payoff will shrink. Instead, try the barre method, a ballet-inspired exercise regimen that challenges your muscles in ways that they haven’t been challenged since, well, probably ever—unless you happen to be a Bolshoi alum.
Barre method workouts—originally the brainchild of a former German ballet dancer who developed the technique in 1959 after injuring her back—employ high repetitions of exercises, usually performed in a small range of motion at varied tempos, using body weight or light dumbbells for resistance. The exercises call for body positions not often found in other workouts: Picture doing squats with your feet staggered one in front of the other, toes pointed outward diagonally, pelvis tucked forward, torso upright and hands lightly holding the ballet barre on the wall. The movements are graceful, yet intense—it’s common for even veteran barre method-ers’ muscles to shake with exhaustion during an exercise set.
“It’s very intense without being high impact,” says Jen Rehm, co-owner of The Body Barre studio in Denver (6895 E. Hampden Ave.). “There aren’t many workouts that burn so many calories without the impact on your joints.”
In addition to calorie-burning, the barre method tones and stretches your muscles, encouraging that long, lean dancer look. You can check your progress toward a dancer’s body while you work out, as studio walls are lined with mirrors. Before you decide that doesn’t sound appealing, consider the research findings that indicate people exert more effort to accomplish a task when they can see themselves in a mirror.