This is the second in a series of ‘Fitness Friday’ Your Health stories.
A ballet-based fitness trend is jete-ing its way into the exercise regimes of more and more Edmontonians.
Barre is a workout that became popular in the U.S. after the movie Black Swan was released in 2010.
It’s now made its way to Canada, with a growing number of non-dancing Canadians – including those right here in Edmonton – pirouetting their way to healthier lifestyles.
“It uses small isometric movements, working the accessory muscles, the glutes, the core, the hamstrings, the legs,” said Megan Clark with Barre Body Studio.
“By working the small accessory and working them in small, controlled movements you see a big change and you see it quickly.”
Barre Body Studio is the first of its kind in Edmonton.
Clark says the low-impact but effective workout is perfect for anyone who has an inner-dancer waiting to come out.
“Dancers love it because it brings them back to their childhood and non-dancers love it because they feel like they’re dancing because they get to look graceful and do ballet moves,” she said.
Modified dance moves
Clark says while Barre workout moves are modeled after ballet dance moves, they are modified to be more effective from a fitness stand point.
“Even though we use dance terminology, we’re not actually doing the dance moves. We’ve modified them to make them a fitness move,” she said.
“So when we’re doing our arabesques we’re not trying to get our leg very high, we don’t want to get our leg very high. We’re just using our hamstrings and our glutes to activate that muscle so you don’t need to lift that muscle or look pretty doing it.”
Student Yvette Thompson says having a dance background actually makes taking Barre more challenging.
“In dance you’re taught these very specific, technical details that are not reflected in Barre,” Thompson said. “For somebody that’s a dancer sometimes it’s even harder to get into the nuances of what Barre is so for people who aren’t dancers, they always have a leg up.”
The ballet-based session also incorporates yoga and pilates.
Thompson says she was surprised at how much punch Barre packed.
“It’s one of those workouts that you walk into the room and you don’t really anticipate to feel the burn but about five minutes in you realize exactly what you’re in for,” Thompson said.
“You’re going to see results right away.”
Barre began in the late 1950s by a European ballet dancer named Lotte Berk.
Berk came up with the idea as a way to rehabilitate after injuring her back.
Fitness expert Lisa Belanger, with the University of Alberta, loves the idea of Barre, but thinks the low impact moves should be combined with another cardio workout to get your heart rate going.
“It’s not that I deter people from doing it, it sounds like a great workout,” Belanger said.
“It’s the fact that you also do need to get your heart rate up into that high, the intensity you need for the health benefits.”
Clark says high-intensity workouts aren’t necessary to see results.
“You can get the same type of results in a more practical workout that isn’t going to lead to injury and can actually help rehab injuries,” Clark said.
And although it’s a graceful workout that’s attracting the attention of a lot of women, Thompson thinks everyone – even men – should give it a try.
“Football players do ballet,” Thompson said. “That’s how they train. So this is a great way to get into it and not have to wear your pointe shoes.”
With files from Carmen Leibel