What to Expect from a Barre Class

A couple weeks ago, my friend Lauren invited me to try a Barre class at the dance studio where she teaches. Unfortunately I couldn’t go, since I came down with a terrible cold and was basically dead to the world for a few days. I was feeling up to it this past weekend, so I gave her a call and told her I was going. {Got to be held accountable!}.

In case you’re not familiar, barre class is a group fitness class that uses the ballet barre to perform small movements set to music. It’s a total body workout that can tone your thighs, abs, arms, and booty. 

As a former dancer, I was very excited to get back into the dance studio for this class. The dance studio was practically my home for so many years, so anytime I walk into one, I immediately feel at ease. 

Of course, it wasn’t all excitement. I was nervous too. What if everyone there is really flexible and I look like an idiot? What if I can’t keep up with the rest of the class? What if it’s really intimidating? The questions in my head went on and on. When I arrived and waited in the parking lot for Lauren, I even thought about just going home. I was getting REALLY anxious. 

I’m so happy that I stayed. 

Today, I’m sharing all about my first barre class experience, as well some tips and tricks on preparing for your first class and what you might expect. 

barre class experience and review

{image via Getty}

First, let me tell you some important things that I think a lot of people don’t realize about barre classes.

One: you don’t have to be a dancer to enjoy a barre class. Having a dance background helps you keep the beat and understand how the body moves in certain ways, but it’s 100% not a requirement.

Two: you don’t have to be flexible. As with all types of group fitness classes, flexibility among the students differs. Some people are naturally flexible, some are flexible because they stretch every single day, and some might not be flexible at all. My flexibility was at its peak when I was dancing almost every day in college, but that was over 6 years ago. I can assure you that I’ve lost almost all of the flexibility I once had. You don’t need to be flexible to enjoy barre class. You just need to have an open mind and realize that it takes patience and time to really loosen up your muscles. 

What to do Before

Before you get to the studio, I highly recommend eating a light breakfast or snack {depending on the time of day} an hour or two beforehand. A banana is a great choice, because it gives you some potassium and isn’t too heavy. Skip anything too filling, otherwise you run the risk of feeling queasy while you’re jumping around in class. I personally forgot to eat breakfast, and that was a big mistake. By the end of class, I felt like I was going to faint!

Something else to keep in mind is to arrive at the studio 10-15 minutes ahead of time. This will give you an opportunity to check in, take off your shoes, stretch a little, and introduce yourself to the instructor. Let him/her know if you have any injuries that might prevent you from doing certain exercises. 

What to Bring

Most studios will have everything you need there, but ask what to bring when you book your class. At the very least, you’re going to want to bring a large bottle of water to keep hydrated. You’re going to be sweating A LOT, so it’s important to add fluid back into your body.

Another item you might need {depending on the studio} is a yoga mat. Most barre classes end with core exercises and light stretches, so you’ll want something cushy to lie on as you’re doing crunches, mountain climbers, down dogs, etc. 

What to Wear

No need to buy a leotard and tights, but you’re going to want to wear form-fitting athletic clothing so the instructor can see your posture and form. Think stretchy capris or leggings with a tank or tight t-shirt. I highly recommend wearing breathable fabrics, because you’ll be drenched in sweat by the end of class. 

In terms of footwear, you’ll want to be barefoot or wear sticky socks to help prevent you from slipping and sliding around. 

What to Expect

All barre classes will vary, depending on the studio and instructor. However, here’s the format of the class I took:  

The class was an hour long, and began with 10-15 minutes of warm-up in the center of the room {away from the barre}. I immediately felt comfortable, because the warm up was similar to what I had experienced in dance classes my entire life. It included head and body rolls, pliés {bending/straightening of the legs}, and grapevines on relevé {on ball of foot}. By the end of warm up, my heart-rate was up!

Next, it was time to go to the barre for approximately 30 minutes. We started with some exercises to lift the butt and tone the thighs. We did kicks to the front, side and back, then kicks with pulses. We also did monkey knee lifts facing the barre. You place both hands on the barre, and jump from one leg to the other by bending your knee up towards your underarm as high as you can. It’s hard to explain, but spoiler alert: NOT EASY. After thigh and butt exercises, we moved to a bunch of calf raises in various positions. My legs were burning by the end! 

For the last 15 minutes of class, we moved back to the center of the room for ab work and stretching. My whole body was exhausted, but stretching felt SO good. My muscles were basically crying. 

What to do After

After class is finished, you’ll probably feel exhausted! It’s a lot tougher than it seems. Although class ends with time for stretching, I highly recommend that you stretch even more when you get home. I didn’t do this and my legs still hurt three days later. Learn from my mistake. 

I can’t wait to sign up for another barre class. Being back in the dance studio makes me feel so happy and I’m itching for another class very very soon {as soon as my legs aren’t so sore!}.

Have you tried barre before? Comment below and let me know your thoughts/any tips you have for beginners. 

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