Lately it seems like there are ballet-based or barre studios opening all over New York City with promises of creating a dancer’s physique (think long, lean muscles and perfect posture). At first, they can seem pretty darn intimidating. You walk into a sparse studio with mirrors everywhere and everyone in class seems to be skinny, best friends with one another, and knows exactly what to do in class all of the time. Yikes!
Believe me — I have been there myself, and it can seem very scary to attend your first class. (Especially when you are as clumsy as I am when learning new things!)
However, fear not! Because, on behalf of FBGs everywhere, I collected the best tips from the top barre experts on how to prepare for your first barre workout. So get those grip socks ready and prepare for a grade A barre class!
Tips for Your First Barre Workout
1. Introduce yourself, says Jen Ator, fitness director Women’s Health magazine. When instructors know you’re a newbie, you score major benefits. They can give you a detailed rundown of the setup before class so you know what to expect, and they can also keep a closer eye on your form throughout the session. Plus, if you’re dealing with any injuries, you can let the instructor know before you get moving; that way, they’ll be able to give you specific modifications.
2. Expect an intense full-body workout, says Kristine Storie, owner of Xtend Barre Brooklyn Heights. You will have a much more enjoyable experience if you expect and accept that you won’t be able to do the entire workout. Listen to the instructor for the modifications given for newbies. Every exercise can be dialed down or amped up. Always work at your own level, as that is how you build strength. We call it your “challenge zone.” Take breaks whenever you need to; you will still get a fantastic workout.
3. Focus on your feet, says Andrea Rogers, creator of Xtend Barre: Lean & Chiseled. First, it’s important to wear grip socks in barre class. The socks will help you balance, find proper foot placement and prevent you from slipping. Proper foot placement comes from ankle strength, and this is very important. Many exercises are done in releve (heels lifted), and you must make sure you lift equally to the balls of your feet with your big toe and little toe connected to the floor. This proper alignment will help ensure you are using the correct muscles to sculpt — and not sink into the knees.
4. Don’t get discouraged if you are given a lot of corrections the first time in class, says Leah Sarago, creator of the Ballet Body DVD series. Because form is such an important part of various barre techniques, instructors may provide a lot of corrections. You may feel like you are doing everything wrong the first few classes, and it can be very discouraging. Even for advanced training levels, if you are new to barre workouts, it is best to expect that you will be given form corrections until you learn the proper technique. Instructors want participants to get the most out of the exercises, and the smallest adjustments in form can make such a difference in safety and results.
5. Wear the right attire, says Jessica Smith of the Barre Fitness DVD. While you don’t need a specific outfit for class, you definitely want to be comfortable and confident in your clothing! You are going to want to avoid short or wide leg shorts (there will be a lot of leg lifting going on) or a super baggy, slouchy shirt or pants that could get in your way or make it hard for your instructor to see your form.
6. Check your ego at the door, stay humble, and be ready to work on areas of your body and exercises that you need, says Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp, creators of the Exhale: Core Fusion Barre Basics for Beginners DVD. These may not be the exercises that you necessarily love or are good at doing. Nevertheless, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and if you work on your weak links with patience, perseverance and consistency, you will achieve your goals and be in the best shape of your life!
Have you ever tried a barre workout? Which one is your favorite? —Margo