Fitness: Strength Train with a Barre Workout

My ballet teacher would instruct the class to “take it back to the barre” when we needed to refocus on the fundamentals.

This spring, reset the focus on your health goals by taking it back to the barre--a barre workout that is!

¿Qué qué? ¿Hit the bar?


Not a bar but barre, a group class that is growing in popularity. This workout blends elements of ballet, pilates, and yoga to tone your whole body through small, controlled movements you do at a dancer's barre.

I knew barre would make it easy for me to fit in the two weekly strength training sessions recommended by the American Heart Association, because as I explain in Why Workout When You Can Dance?, dance-based fitness doesn't feel like a workout.

This week I took advantage of a new-student discount at a barre studio in my area.

We lined up at the barre to follow the instructor through a series of pliés (think elegant squat with knees turned out) and relevés (think calf raises), pulsing to target muscle groups. After the barre, there was more--toning on the floor, where we flowed through variations of abs and leg lifts.

After this invigorating workout, I knew I'd be back. Nothing boosts my confidence like feeling tough and elegant at once!

Sí, Natalie, but you've done this before. I have two left feet. ¿Will I be able to keep up?

The level of technique varies by studio and instructor, so whether or not you sported a tutu as a niña, you can find a class that's perfect for you.


Keep in mind these 3 tips to get the most out of your barre class:

3 Tips for a Great Barre Class

  1. Give it 110%: Concentrated, isometric movements make your muscles burn and shake during your workout. Power through and finish the set! Before you know it, you're done.
  2. Dress for success: No dance gear required. Wear clothes you will be comfortable in during floor work. Skip the sneakers and wear socks or go barefoot.
  3. Fuel up: Don't let the small movements deceive. You are working hard! Eat healthy snacks pre-exercise and always drink water before and during workouts.

No classes near you?

No hay problema.

Use a chair to practice your pointe at home. Turn up the classical music and follow the routine at this link or this video.


Love dance-based fitness? Try cardio dance programs Zumba or Masala Bhangra, which I describe in Why Workout When You Can Dance?.

Put your fitness goals back center stage and work your muscles ballerina-style. This is one workout that makes you strong as you walk with elegance.

A teacher by day, The Wise Latina Club’s Natalie Wagner Fierro is the co-founder of the Institute for Student Health. She equally loves food (cooking or dining in Washington’s restaurants) and burning calories by distance running, practicing yoga, and archery. Click here to read more about and connect with Natalie.

How are you refocusing on your fitness goals?