Long, lean thighs, flat abs, a lifted derrière and shapely arms and shoulders: Who wouldn't want all that? "Working at the barre challenges you to find the best line," says dancer Kate Albarelli, who developed Figure 4 for Pure Yoga in New York City. "Your posture improves, your body is lifted and lengthened." Perhaps this explains the ever-growing popularity of body-sculpting classes and DVDs with names like Core Fusion, Ballet Beautiful and Figure 4. (The fact that Natalie Portman followed Ballet Beautiful’s regime to such transformative effect for “Black Swan” no doubt adds to the widespread appeal.)
“These classes are a craze because they work,” says Kate. “People typically see results within the first three weeks.”
Barre workouts focus on four key body parts: Arms, thighs, glutes and abs, using targeted, small movements and one’s own body weight as resistance. “Instead of bulking up as you would using weights, your body gets tighter,” Kate says.
But be warned: Just because the movements are small doesn’t mean they aren’t difficult. Even seasoned dancers can be challenged. “The first time I took a barre class I was so sore I was dying,” Kate says. “I tell first timers to come back the very next day. You’ll be 50 percent less sore if you do.”
Ready to line up at the barre? For more info on classes and DVDs: Figure 4 (pureyoga.com); Core Fusion (exhalespa.com); Physique 57(physique57.com); The Bar Method (barmethod.com); Ballet Beautiful (balletbeautiful.com).
Photo Credit: Carsten Fleck For Pure Yoga