(800) 545-4772
Sign In
ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, Your Complete Beginners Guide to Barre Workouts

Your Complete Beginners Guide to Barre Workouts

Reading Time: 5 minutes


DATE: 2023-06-01

Barre is a popular fitness trend, especially for women. It takes inspiration from ballet, but you don’t need any dance experience to enjoy and benefit from a barre workout. Focused on strength with a little bit of cardio, this is a well-rounded workout, even for beginners. 

What Is a Barre Workout? 

Barre is a workout inspired by ballet and the barre that dancers use to train. It combines ballet moves with elements of yoga and Pilates for a largely strength-focused workout. Like all three, it involves moving through specific postures or poses with good form. 

A barre workout is primarily isometric strength training. This means it involves holding the body in a certain position to contract and hold specific muscles. It also utilizes some small range-of-motion movements, referred to as pulses. There are also some cardio elements to most barre workouts, which sets them apart from yoga and Pilates. 

Barre workouts include basic “positions,” like first and second position, plié, and relevé. These come from ballet and can be adapted in numerous ways. In addition to the positions, most classes add upper body strength using weights and mat work for the core. 

What to Expect in Your First Barre Class

Barre sessions vary depending on the studio and specific class, but they generally follow a similar pattern. Classes begin with a warm-up of easy movements and dynamic stretches. They end with a cool-down focused on stretching and yoga-like poses. Most barre fitness sessions are 60 minutes. 

In between the warm-up and cool-down, a barre class consists of poses and small movement reps focusing on each part of the body. For instance, you will likely do an upper body portion with light weights. Using the barre, you’ll do movements and poses that target the legs and glutes. Most classes also include a core segment, often done on a mat. 

Hopefully your first class is for beginners. If so, the instructor will spend a lot of time explaining terminology and core positions. They will help you learn the right form and body positions. 

Benefits of Barre

One of the primary reasons that barre fitness has become so popular is that it gets results. It is an effective, whole-body workout. Many people like that the workout is efficient. It covers everything, even some cardio, in one session. These are some of the other great benefits of doing barre workouts: 

Build Strength Without Big Weights

The primary focus of barre is strength. It is a type of resistance training just like weightlifting but it relies mostly on body weight. A barre workout strengthens all areas of the body. It also reaches some of the deeper muscles, particularly in the core, that other types of strength training miss. 

Learn more about how yoga also improves strength and flexibility. 

Get Flexible

Consider how flexible ballet dancers are. While a barre workout might not get you to that point, it does take inspiration from the type of muscle stretching ballerinas do. You will definitely improve your flexibility as you develop longer and stronger muscles. 

Enjoy a Low-Impact Workout

Aerobics classes, plyo moves, running, and other high-impact workouts are not for everyone. If you have joint issues, barre is a great low-impact alternative. A low-impact workout can be just as effective, and it is safer and less likely to cause injuries. 

Improve Posture

Again, consider ballerinas and their straight spines. Barre positioning puts a lot of emphasis on maintaining good posture. It also works the core, which helps you hold better posture in your daily life. 

Pair Strength with Cardio

If you’re looking for a heart-pumping, intense cardio workout, barre isn’t it. The main focus is on strength and flexibility. Still, there is some cardio involved in barre. Your heart rate will elevate, so you get some cardiovascular benefits as well. Some classes have more cardio than others, so once you get beyond the basics, you can pick and choose based on your needs and preferences. 

See Results Sooner

There are so many reasons for the rise in popularity of barre, but this might be the biggest one. People want to see results, and that’s what you get with barre. Within just a few weeks of practice, expect to be more flexible, stronger, and leaner. 

Get Gentle Cross-Training

If another sport or workout is your passion, consider adding barre classes as cross-training. It’s easier on the body, especially the joints, than many sports, so you can build strength and recover doing a gentler workout. 

Pilates is also a great choice for cross-training. It builds strength but is gentle on the body, like barre. 

How Does Barre Compare to Other Workouts?

Barre takes inspiration from a few other workouts, which is one of the many reasons it is popular. It has a little bit of everything, from yoga and Pilates to cardio.

Compared to yoga and Pilates, many people find that barre is more beginner friendly. The basic poses are very simple. They can also be adapted to any fitness level. You can start barre with very low fitness and build from there. 

Like Pilates, barre workouts build longer, leaner muscles as compared to weightlifting. Pilates places a lot of emphasis on the core, while barre includes more leg and glute training with some core. 

Who Shouldn’t Do Barre Workouts? 

Barre really is for almost anyone. It is open to newbies to both barre and fitness in general. The movements and poses can be adapted. On the other hand, there might be reasons you or a personal training client shouldn’t do barre. Always encourage clients to talk with a doctor before starting a new exercise routine, especially if they have health conditions. 

Beginner’s Guide to Barre Workouts – Tips for Newbies

Learning more about what barre is and what to expect is the first step in preparing to try a new workout. As you explore barre, keep these tips in minds from people who have been there before: 

  • Look for a class specifically designed for beginners. There are a lot of positions to learn, not to mention new terminology. 

  • If you’re doing an online workout at home, you don’t need to buy a barre. Use a stable surface, like a countertop or sturdy chair. 

  • Take it slowly at first to avoid a lot of soreness or even injuries. Do half a class first if it feels really challenging. 

  • Focus on form first. This might mean you need to slow down the pace. 

  • Expect your muscles to shake and for this to feel much harder than it looks. 

  • Wear clothing similar to what you would for yoga: leggings, tank top, and sports bra. Avoid loose shorts, as there are inversions in barre. 

  • Invest in a pair of grippy socks if you don’t want to go barefoot. There are no shoes in barre. 

  • Don’t go overboard and do barre daily. You need time to recover between sessions, and it’s always a good idea to round out your fitness with a few different types of exercise. 

  • If you don’t like an instructor or class, shop around. While the basic idea stays the same, instructors and classes vary a lot. Find someone you like and you’ll stick with it longer. 

If you’re curious about this trendy class, don’t hesitate to try it. Barre is a fun, effective way to work out. It is also welcoming to newcomers and easy to get started. 

ISSA’s Certified Personal Trainer – Self-Guided Study Program is a great start to a lasting career in fitness. It provides an excellent foundation for learning about and teaching trending fitness classes, like barre and others.  

Featured Course

ISSA | Certified Personal Trainer

Start your dream career completely online! Take the course, pass the certification final exam, and be guaranteed a job - or your money back!

Sign Up & Stay Connected

Receive $50 off your purchase today!

I consent to being contacted by ISSA.