BERLIN – Barre fitness classes will be offered for the first time next month at Fitness by Design on Webster Square Road.

Here are 5 things to know about the ballet-inspired workout from studio owner Meaghan Massenat and class instructor Ashley Orozco.

Health benefits

Barre fitness targets a variety of muscles including the glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors and the core. Tiny isometric movements are the focus. 

Orozco said the exercise is beneficial for lengthening the body and posture. She said Barre is especially helpful for those that have a desk job and spend the day primarily sitting. The workouts can also help with sleeping disorders like insomnia as well as mental health as a whole. 

Types of Barre

Massenat said Barre is growing in popularity and has attracted former ballet dancers like herself to the dance-inspired workout.

The classes at Fitness by Design will focus mainly on the Barre method, which uses stretching techniques in between workouts. Floor work is also incorporated into the Barre method as well as dumbbells, resistance bands and small exercise balls.

Other types include Barre3 and Pure Barre, which involve various workouts.

Warm-ups and stretches

Orozco said a 10-minute warm-up before starting workouts at the barre gets the heart rate up and warms up the muscles. Included in the warm-up is walking in place with high knees, lifting small dumbbells in time to the music, as well as hip pulses, planks and push-ups. Toes are usually flexed or pointed.

Stretches are done in between workouts to warm the leg muscles and avoid standing the whole time. Stretching can also be used as a transition into the next workout.

At the barre

Like in traditional ballet, Barre fitness moves include pliés, which are done by turning out the feet before bending and straightening the knees, relevés which involve rising up on the tips of the toes, and arabesques which involve extending one leg out behind the supporting leg.

Seat work uses these moves as well as a small exercise ball between the legs to work the core and glutes.

Class participants lean on the bar for balance while keeping their posture when doing more than a dozen different workouts. Orozco said she creates the workouts to the beat of upbeat music similar to dance choreography.

Injury aid

Orozco said Barre workouts not only improve posture and strength but could also help with pre-existing injuries. She said she was not able to do much activity previously due to a psoas muscle injury, located deep in the hip, and found Barre to be the best low-impact workout. She said she was able to feel the workout “burn” but without further damaging her injured muscle.

Workouts can also be modified to fit individual needs. Barre fitness is gentle on the joints and Orozco said anyone can participate. 

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