By Star Lawrence
BALLET DANCERS COMBINE suppleness
with strength and agility. Yoga focuses on
flexibility. Pilates works core and balance.
Perhaps this is one reason
that more people are looking into barre classes, which
blend ballet with yoga and
Pilates, and have seen a
surge of popularity in the
past few years.
“I think the image of the
ballerina is inspirational,”
says Meredith Poppler, a
Costco member and spokesperson for the International
Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association in Boston.
The trend toward barre
classes, she adds, also signals
the return to popularity of
group fitness, which dropped
off a decade ago in favor of
Barre classes (the name
comes from the stationary
rail used in ballet) can be
done by almost anyone at any age, practitioners say. Despite the subtle movements and
absence of beefy machines, barre puts the
“work” in workout. Participants delight in saying how they were drenched with sweat and
gasping, just like a professional dancer.
Costco member Marirose Weyand and
Barre offers a
Weyand says. “There is not that much [heavy]
Results can be seen fast, she insists—the
most coveted of which is the lifting of one’s
backside. Some people lose weight, but this
depends on how dainty one’s lunch
If you have limitations, you can work
around them. Sore shoulder? Use a lighter
weight. Do fewer reps if you need to.
Teachers are trained by individual companies, and expertise can vary. Matthews recommends that students ask if the instructors
are certified in group fitness in addition to
specialized barre techniques, which are
taught by the franchise groups. ACE certification takes three to six months to complete.
To keep muscles warm and limber, students wear yoga pants and socks with nonslip
soles (no tutus). The cost varies, but think in
terms of $175 a month for unlimited classes.
Will barre give you a long, graceful neck
and a toed-out walk? Probably just a firmer
tush and long, toned muscles. But are you
Star Lawrence is a medical reporter in the
for your health: BARRE CLASSES
The Costco Connection
Costco and Costco.com carry a variety of
exercise clothing, such as Kirkland Signature™
active wear, as well as exercise equipment.
her sister Veronica started their Pure Barre
franchise in 2005 and have three locations in
the Phoenix area. “Aerobics is a lot of jumping
around,” she says. “This is small, isometric
or jumping and no grinding
of joints.” It’s upbeat, done to
all different kinds of music
(although, surprisingly, nothing from Swan Lake) and
uses few pieces of equipment:
just the barre, 3-pound
weights and medicine balls.
Each session lasts an hour at
Pure Barre. “Some people do
it six or seven days a week,”
Weyand says, although three
to four times is ideal.
Jessica Matthews, a
Costco member and exercise
physiologist with the American Council on Exercise
(ACE) in San Diego, took a
Pure Barre class and says it
was taxing. “They emphasize
core strengthening and
proper alignment,” she says.
She adds that the class moved her body in a
different way, and her body was sore in places
she didn’t even know she had.
Weyand has both male and female students; the oldest is 74. The techniques do not
stress joints, but they do work muscles to the
point of shakiness. “You don’t bulk up,”
© ERIC AUDRAS / AGE FOTOSTOCK
CHECK OUT YOUTUBE to see
demonstrations of the almost
countless variations, schools
and methods of barre classes.
■ The International
Health, Racquet & Sportsclub
Association has tips on choosing a facility at www.health
■ For details on exercise
physiology and certification,
go to http://acefitness.org.
■ For the skinny on health
clubs, go to
■ At http://purebarre.com
you can learn more and purchase equipment—including
a barre for your home.—SL