Barre Fitness – How To Choose A Good Barre Class

By

Nicole LaBonde

Nicole LaBondeBarre fitness classes are popular. People love them, and love the promise of a dancer’s long, lean body. And yet, in most barre fitness classes, the movement has very little to do with dance. Worse still, many participants find themselves hurting their necks, shoulders, low backs, and/or knees, because the work isn’t being explained and/or executed properly.

So, as a former dancer, and a Pilates instructor, I decided to create my own barre class – true to the discipline of hundreds of years of ballet practice and to the principles of Pilates fitness. The result was CABARRET.

If you don’t have CABARRET in your city (which unless you live in Miami or Philly, you currently don’t) here are some things to look for to evaluate your local barre class:

A good barre fitness class should have the following elements:

1. Work the body evenly, as choreography, and everyday movement do not.

1b. Recognize that the sides of the body are different. One side is likely stronger than the other, one side needs to stretch more. If all the barre work were done facing the barre, with both legs constantly doing the same work, we will never recognize those differences, or learn how to use our barre exercises to address them.

2. Strengthen the core by requiring upright posture. It takes a lot of strength to hold your body tall and stable. While a leg or arm may be moving, often the torso, and the opposite leg or arm, are still, requiring control and strength. So many barre classes include floor work to work the abdominals. This tells me that many instructors, and therefore their students, don’t recognize the necessity of abdominal strength during the ENTIRE barre! So much attention is paid to the moving limb, none is paid to body itself. We spend most of our life in the vertical and upright position. We need to learn to strengthen and use these muscles properly, and the barre is a perfect place for it. You don’t need the floor work to get good ab work at the barre. And that’s a Pilates instructor saying that!!!

 

3. Stretch as we strengthen. Almost every barre exercise includes a stretch. As the muscles tone, we keep them limber.

4. Resistance training. Muscles work in contraction and extension. Instead of plopping into a plie or using momentum to move a leg, barre work is meant to be done with resistance and control. A plie is not simply a bend of the knees. It is a lift of the abdominals, a wrap of the inner thighs, a stretch of the hip abductors, a strengthening of the gluts. If all a barre student is doing is bending and unbending the knees, she will soon have worn joints and bulky thighs. Not the long, lean muscles or lifted posture she was hoping for!

5. And the big one– The point of barre exercises are to get the body ready to DANCE. The barre is not an end unto itself. So, CABARRET classes culminate in cardio burlesque dance. As I’ve written before for Madamesque, burlesque is meant to be a celebration of the body! So we shake, shimmy and don’t stop moving. I also use this as a time to remind  my students to celebrate their bodies and what they are capable of. Burlesque should be empowering. Fitness should be empowering. Too often, we feel discouraged in these situations. I’m determined to help women use their bodies to reclaim their power!

CABARRET is an incredibly effective workout because it pairs strength training/sculpting with cardio, as well as a lot of stretching. This unique formula delivers results in just 4 sessions. I also encourage self-expression (improv), props (fans, boas, heels), and provide variations for both beginners and advanced dancers to give everyone a great workout and a great time doing it!

 

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Nicole LaBonde wants to live in a world where all women are confident with their voices, bodies and lives. That's why she created CABARRET barre and burlesque fitness classes! Nicole has been featured in SHAPE Magazine, Business Heroine, and multiple blogs and ebooks on Health and Fitness topics. Find out how to work with Nicole, get her 5 best exercise for women, or read her blog at www.nicolelabonde.com

About Nicole LaBonde

Nicole LaBonde wants to live in a world where all women are confident with their voices, bodies and lives. That's why she created CABARRET barre and burlesque fitness classes! Nicole has been featured in SHAPE Magazine, Business Heroine, and multiple blogs and ebooks on Health and Fitness topics. Find out how to work with Nicole, get her 5 best exercise for women, or read her blog at www.nicolelabonde.com

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  1. Pingback: Cabarret – Nicole gives Madamesque readers 5 tips on how to find a quality barre class!

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