Know It, Sweat It: Meet Me at The Barre

Welcome to a new series here—Know It, Sweat It. If you can’t tell I’m a big series person. In this one, I’ll be sharing all about my favorite workouts and new workouts I’m trying so you can get to know them too.

Today’s post is all about barre class. Based on ballet movements and micro-toning, barre is one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done. I took my first barre class about three years ago and it is the fastest way I can tone up. My body really responds to the micro-movements and I feel so strong after a class. Even if it’s not your favorite, barre is a great way to tighten, tone, lengthen, and stretch your muscles - it should be incorporated in a well-rounded exercise plan. I don’t go consistently anymore, but when I do attend a class, I prefer to take Leah Skinner’s class at Pure Barre in River North. Today, she joins me to share more about barre class and what newbies can expect from their first class.

Pure Barre San Antonio-PB San Antonio-0069.jpg

1) Tell me a bit about yourself: when did you start teaching barre/how did you find barre? 

I started taking barre in January 2013, when my tall, non-working out roommate dragged me to a class because “it was the best she had every done.” I have been a dancer and a cheerleader my entire life (including through college) but after I stopped cheering, I stopped working out. My body changed drastically, and so I thought “hey, it’s a discounted first class, I’ll try it.” After 55 minutes of one of the hardest workouts I had done, I was hooked. Fast forward two years, and I was on my way to getting certified. March 15th 2015 was the very first class I taught, and I haven’t stopped since. 

2) What happens during a typical barre class?

Pure Barre is a 50 minute workout that uses hand weights, a playground ball, resistance bands, and small isometric movements in order to fatigue the muscle in a different way, and create tone and strength. Every class’s format is the same, but what you do in each section will always be different. You’ll start with a warm up, head into upper body weights, burn out your thighs, tone up your glutes, and then finish with core work. Each section is finished with a quick stretch to lengthen out your muscles and provide a quick break before getting into the next section.

3) What would you tell anyone who is trying barre for the first time?

Barre is such a different work out, the #1 thing to have is an open mindset when trying it out. It’ll be challenging, it’ll be hard, and it’ll be confusing - but that confusion goes away as you continue to take class. Listen with intent to the instructor - she or he is there to help you and guide you through this new workout. You’ll feel a little lost, but just know that every single person who has taken Pure Barre (even that girl next to you on her 500th class) has been in the EXACT place you are in. It takes a few classes to get the groove, so just have fun your first class and get ready to WORK! Wear capris or long pants, sticky socks, bring water, and your A game. 

4) What are the benefits of barre?

Barre will help you lose weight, burn calories, tone your muscles, and clear you head. A lot of the workout is about pushing your body past your mental limits - the more you take barre, the more focused you’re able to set your mind. A lot of clients (and myself!) have found that Pure Barre not only helps them physically, but mentally as well. It’s a high intensity low impact workout, so those with injuries are still able to get a great workout and continue pursuing definition in their bodies. 

LeahSkinner15 copy.jpg

5) Should barre be part of a workout routine or a focus/main workout? If part of a routine, how does it compliment other exercises, like running or yoga?

Some people take Pure Barre 5-6 times a week, while other take about 2-4 times and incorporate it with another type of workout. I think it just depends on what works best for your body. At Pure Barre we have two types of classes - Classic and Empower. Classic is slower paced and more focused on toning, while Empower is a high intensity high cardio class. I suggest taking both types of classes regularly so you can really get the most of your workout. Pure Barre is such a different workout, it’s a great addition to an already established workout routine. I’ve known professional baseball and football players that take barre, Olympic runners, and yogis that like to incorporate it in their weekly routine. It helps strengthen your core, leans out your muscles, and provides a different way to challenge yourself.  Once you have an established workout routine, it’s really easy to plateau, as your muscles become used to a workout routine after about 2 months of consistency. That’s why we are constantly changing what moves we do and always keeping you on your toes (literally!) 

6) Any downsides to barre or things people need to be aware of?

Barre is definitely a mental game - it’s about pushing your body and your muscles past that limit. Be prepared to work, shake, and burn when you come to class. It’s not a class for people who want an easy workout or are just looking for a break. The instructor will push you past your limits and require more of you than you think you can give. Once you’ve been taking a while, it’s also easy to get “comfortable” in class and not push yourself - it’s easy to just go through the motions and “fake it.” But that’s why you have to go into class with a goal that you’ll work a little bit harder and challenge yourself a little more than the last class, so that you continue to change. 

7) Anything else you can think of? 

Barre is a great workout! I wouldn’t dedicate so much of my time (teaching and taking) if I didn’t think it was worth it. It may be expensive, but it’s worth an intro month to figure out if it’s going to be a great fit for you. Figure out how you can make it work for YOU! :) I promise you won’t regret it!

Check out Leah Skinner at Pure Barre Streeterville or River North in Chicago.

Chicago babes, Pure Barre is on Classpass. If you’re not signed up, you can use this link to get $40 off a Classpass plan:

FitCami Fannin