By Ariana LaBarrie
The newest workout trend takes cues from ballerinas, but you don’t have to be a dancer to tone up and build lean muscle.
Turnouts, plies – the barre workout is derived from these ballet movements and others. Participants use the ballet barre for balance, resistance and to perfect form. Small, isometric movements exercise and fatigue different parts of the body, including arms, abs, thighs and the butt.
“When you fatigue each part of the body you are actually changing the muscular structure within the moment. Stretching immediately after is how you create really long, really lean muscles,” said Brynn Samp, manager of Pure Barre in Evanston.
These isometric movements are effective because they take people beyond the moves they make in every day life or in typical workouts, like running or yoga, which involve broader movements.
“[Since] you are doing small movements instead of the larger range of motion, it kind of jump starts your body, because your body has not built muscle that way,” Samp said.
These classes can initially be difficult, regardless of any fitness level or dance background, because of the different method of exercising.
“The first few classes were extremely hard. I was surprised as someone who had run a lot of races, [including] full and half marathons and was an avid yogi, but the class was different and I knew I was working muscles I had never worked before,” said Jess Ellis, a student turned instructor at Pure Barre.
Although the classes can be challenging at first, barre helps participants build a leaner, slimmer body, Samp said.
“Instead of bulking up, you are not going to get bigger, you are going to get more toned, you are to get more defined and you are going to slim down most of the time,” Samp said.
Participants also noted the mental benefits.
“I really can turn off…It really does give you this hour to yourself that you reserved,” said Ashlee Cummings, who has been doing barre workouts since January of this year. “You can focus on your mind, your body, and nothing else.”
You can find barre studios throughout the Chicago area, including Pure Barre in River North, The Dailey Method with studios in Lincoln Park, Bucktown and several suburbs, and The Bar Method in downtown Chicago on Wacker Drive. Prices vary from each studio, and many studios allow participants to pay for individual classes or the purchase of unlimited classes for a monthly rate.