Raise the barre: Work out and stretch out

Mollie Shepardson
Mollie Shepardson

The first time people hear about barre fitness, their reaction is usually to ask, “I don’t understand. Do you drink while you’re exercising?”

While this response makes for a humorous pun, the fact is what was created in 1959 as a rehabilitative therapy exercise system using ballet barres has developed into a mainstream fitness modality.

Some mistake a barre workout as a ballet class. In a majority of barre studios, this is no longer the case. Fitness barres are used as stabilization tools during calf, thigh and glute exercises. In addition, free weights, Pilates balls and loop bands are used for controlled resistance in this full-body workout. While various brands are known for their own techniques, barre classes offer something for everyone from extreme athletes to those who’ve just had a knee replacement.

The basic premise of a barre workout is low-impact exercise that isolates and fatigues each major muscle group without aggravating or creating injuries within the joints. After each exercise is performed, the muscle that’s just been fatigued is stretched back out before moving on to the next muscle group. The goal of this modality is to create lean muscle tone in a sustainable way using modifications and challenges offered throughout class. Regular barre attendees report the benefits of using this style of workout as a compliment to other sports and activities, while others prefer to employ these classes five days a week as their sole workouts.

Barre fitness is a part of an overall healthy lifestyle rather than a fitness fad. Some lifestyle regimes might draw comparisons to cults.  Barre fitness classes attract frequent participants not because they’re brainwashed, but because of the low-impact nature of the workouts. While it’s not uncommon for muscles to be sore a day or two after class, barre class regulars of all fitness levels report pain relief and strength around joints. The goal of these workouts is to leave feeling worked out and stretched out.

Many people also stick with barre long term because of the personalized nature of classes. From the weight of dumbbells used to the number of days attended each week, barre classes offer unique experiences for each individual. Participants are encouraged to share information about any injuries or limitations with an instructor prior to class so specific recommendations are offered for a safe and enjoyable workout. Throughout quality barre classes, modifications and challenges are offered for participants of varying body types and ages to customize their workouts.

After four years on Main Street, the ROKbarre studio has joined forces with Crossroads Fitness to provide 10 exclusive classes a week between Crossroads downtown and north locations.

While some barre brands could be described as “dance based,” ROKbarre offers workouts that are achievable and enjoyable by participants of all ages, fitness levels and genders. Because there’s no one-size-fits-all workout, ROKbarre pays attention to details to provide a rewarding experience on an individual basis.