What is Barre Concept , and can anyone do it?

With ball squeezes, bicep curls and oblique twists, Amanda explains why you don't need to be a Prima Ballerina to do BarreConcept®.

Low impact, great results

To call BarreConcept a 'ballet-fitness' workout would be an oversimplification and, for starters, there isn't a tutu in sight!

You may think that there is no such thing, but BarreConcept® truly is a total body workout that addresses movement, shape and definition. Developed by Emma Newham (Pilates Union), BarreConcept® expertly combining sports conditioning with the strength and technique of Pilates, the flow of Yoga and the poise of Ballet. The result is toned arms, lithe thighs, sculpted buttocks and a strong core. All of this in one workout.

At Barreflies, a typical BarreConcept® class begins with a warm up (consisting of plies, lunges, battements, tendus, eleves and squats), performed in smaller studios at the barre, or in more spacious studio in the center for greater aerobic intensity (though don't let this put you off the class if you struggle with co-ordination as the exercise arrangements are all verbally cued). Easier to follow is the barre section, where you will be guided through each movement side-on and then turned towards the barre, where the teacher will come over to make those small-but-oh-so-important adjustments.

Movements can be adapted and made more 'ouchy' (a term borrowed from a current Pilates client) with the use of the small ball, resistance bands, hand weights and the Pilates ring. All movements are low-impact (jumps, aside) and choreographed to music, which can be slower (120-130bpm) to emphasise technique, or faster (135-145bpm) to raise the heart rate, depending on the desired results. Beware of the 'Cardio' classes as these are taught at an accelerated pace and include more end range movements (isometric contractions) to increase 'ouchiness'!

Male or female, whether you're in your 20's or in your 60's, ultimately we all want the same thing from a workout - great results.

Fun and Functional

Most of the comments our clients come back with is how fun the classes are, and, while they don't tend to use the word 'functional' to describe the effectiveness of the classes, words and phrases such as 'no belly flab' and 'improved shape' stand out. For BarreConcept, along with Floor-Barre, which is a mat-based derivation of the BarreConcept® and Pilates classes combined, words like 'reduced injury' and 'pain management' are top of the feedback we receive. We also pride ourselves on being 'hands-on', and providing personalised attention in all of our classes as we believe this is key to helping you reduce Postural distortions which manifest as pain, discomfort and injury in the body. All exercise can be fun, but to be truly functional a body system should address technique and alignment.

Enhanced core techniques

"To be terrific you have to be specific." (Allan Menezes, Pilates Institute of Australia).

This is just one of a few key sayings by which we assess the efficacy of technique-based movements in our classes (it also makes for the odd laugh when said aloud). Healthy posture and agile movement are at the heart of Barre Studio Brighton classes, and there is no better way to address this than with core-strengthening techniques, as Joseph Pilates' teachings are at the centre of our classes.

A typical BarreConcept® class will end with 15-20mins of core-abdominal exercises and stretches on the mat. Amanda takes typical BarreConcept® floor exercises and infuses them with techniques learned in her broader training, drawing on nearly 9 years of Pilates experience. In the floor section of the class an emphasis on hip-dominant movements (encouraged when the hips are in turn-out) gives way to inner thigh connection and emphasis on weaker, lazy muscle groups.

When used in combination with movements at the barre (performed in turn out and in parallel) the result is enhanced core strength, more agile movement, greater flexibility, better balance, improved posture and increased range of movement. What's not to love?

Still can't decide on a Pilates or BarreConcept® class? Check out our videos here

photo credit: Jacqui McSweeney

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