With the Victoria’s Secret Angels fashion show coming up, we are all reminded of how desperately we want the long, lean bodies that models strut down the isle. In the United States, the workout trend that is spreading throughout the country is barre class, and they claim that practicing barre three times per week for one month will drastically slim and tone your body.
Barre is ballet-inspired type of workout. It involves lower-impact interval training, the advantages of which I praise in my past blog, HIIT: Making the Impossible Possible. In barre, the instructor leads you through alternating combinations of intense, focused muscle work and intense stretching. The beauty of this type of exercise is that it is effective and can be altered for all ages, body types, and fitness levels.
The intense muscle work specifically targets every muscle in your body, moving from arms to legs to butt to abs. You will build long, lean muscles, as opposed to big, bulky muscles, though lots of repetition of the exercises with light resistance. For instance, instead of doing 20 squats with 20-lbs weights, you would sink to the bottom of your squat with no weights and pulse at your very lowest holding point. The resulting burn and shake are evidence of the exercises’ shaping effects.
Equally important are the stretching portions of the classes. Stretching is important not only to prevent injury, but also to elongate the muscles you just worked.
At home, in Washington, D.C., I am obsessed with The Bar Method, specifically. But, being in Italy, Rome does not offer barre classes, so I have resorted to DVDs and YouTube videos to help me out. You can perform these exercises at your gym or most of them can even be done at home!