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Raising the Barre: Are Ballet Workouts Right For You?

Jul 21, 2014
Dancers, specifically ballerinas, often have some of the most toned, lean and coveted physiques of any athletes. The last few years have seen huge trends in dance-based workouts, including the soaring popularity of Zumba and even more risqué options, such as pole dancing.

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The success and popularity of these workouts results from their great appeal to female clients, especially since many of the twenty-somethings to more seasoned citizens may have taken or studied dance in their youth. Building off of this popularity, one of the newest trends involves classes that practice the Bar Method--named after the original franchise--or some incorporation of ballet maneuvers coupled with core work, strength training, yoga, Pilates or some other form of exercise.

To find out more about how bar training can be beneficial, I spoke with Jessica Krieger, a Pittsburgh-based, classically trained dance instructor and choreographer. She teaches bar training classes to her students' in various studios and fitness facilities throughout the area. She gave me some very important details about why bar training might be beneficial for you, too.

FitDay: Why might bar training be beneficial for both male and female clients?

Jessica Krieger: Ballet-style training is excellent for a number of reasons. Both males and females who take ballet or bar-style classes can expect to see a metabolic boost that will help both cardiovascular endurance as well as weight loss. Also, because of the poses and maneuvers behind ballet, it's a great way to build muscle without bulk (due to most exercises being high repetition of body weight).

FD: Are there any specific reasons why you recommend bar-style classes?

JK: Particularly, the bar training or ballet training classes that I have taught are perfect for a lot of different audiences... a majority of these exercises are low impact, so people with joint pain or worried about workouts taking out a lot on their physical well-being can still get a superb workout. Also, the classes, which last about an hour, focus on total body sculpting... arms, legs, core, and combine both stretching techniques and interval training principles.

FD: What kind of results do your students in these bar training classes see compared to general workouts or a "gym workout"?

JK: Since most of the clients I have (about 95%) are females, they are always looking for a workout that will help them tone up without fear of bulking up. Most of my clients will see pounds that drop from all of the areas where fat seems to accumulate, as well as their waistline. Additionally, because of the stretching portion, a concentration on long and lean musculature is very beneficial for helping to tone and shape those trouble areas, including the thighs, butt, tummy and upper arms.

Krieger also told me that most metropolitan areas have bar training or Bar Method franchises or gyms that offer these classes. If you are in a more rural area, no need to fear, as she said that many dance studios now offer Bar Method or similar types of classes. So, if a franchise isn't close to you, you can always contact a local studio to see if they offer classes like these.

Ballet-centric workouts, like the Bar Method or other similar classes, are great as a low impact option to build strength and tone muscles, while not needing to lift heavy weights or worry about being bulky. Hopefully, you can find a ballet-style workout near you, and start toning up and building those long and lean muscles.

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Ryan Barnhart, MS, PES, is a certified Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). He also holds a master's degree in exercise science, as well as a bachelor of sport management, both from California University of Pennsylvania. Ryan has worked with numerous professional, collegiate and amateur athletes across many different fields, including professional and arena football players, Mixed Martial Artists, elite runners, international soccer players, and more. 

Ryan is currently the director of fitness at a 700+ member gym near Pittsburgh, PA, as well as the owner and operator of Funky Fitness PA, a personal training studio, in home personal training and personalized fitness planning service. Ryan's work has been featured across the US and the globe, working with clients in all facets of life. He enjoys working with weekend warriors, athletes, and everyone in between. You can check Ryan out on Facebook or follow him on Twitter, or you can reach him at funkytimefitness@gmail.com.



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