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What is Barre Fitness?

barre1You have heard about barre fitness, and some of your friends might even be taking classes. But just what is barre fitness, how does it work, and how can it help you lose weight and get in shape? While there are some arguments as to exactly when this unique, total body workout program first began, there is no denying its rewards.

Barre fitness practitioners enjoy toned muscles and fat loss, a happier, healthier feeling about themselves, and overall external body benefits as well as improved heart health and circulation. I love Barre. I have been teaching this exercise format for a year now and I teach at my local YMCA – three times a week. The classes are well attended and participants come on a regular basis. Most of my students come twice a week.

What makes this particular fitness regimen unique is that it combines several popular programs. Taking different elements from sports conditioning and stretching, and combining them with Pilates, ballet and even some yoga creates a one hour full body workout which is one-of-a-kind.

Performed in socks and tight fitting, form hugging, breathable clothing, barre fitness is thought to be the creation of a ballerina with a back injury. In 1959, Lotte Berk opened up The Lotte Berk Method on Manchester Street in London. She decided to combine ballet barre training with her low intensity rehabilitative back therapy. That was the birth of what we now call modern-day barre fitness.

Far from just a European practice, the unique and well-rounded fitness program hit the United States in 1971 when one of Lotte Berk’s students opened a studio named The Lotte Berk Method in Manhattan. Exceptionally popular more than 50 years after its birth, today’s barre fitness classes are hour-long sessions which use your own body weight, stretching and resistance to challenge and improve your core stability and balance.

Frequent and regular barre practice can help you create and maintain the lean toned body of a dancer. However, the specific order of the exercises also builds your strength and muscle tone. Some classes will even be choreographed to upbeat music, helping the hour session fly by.

Most classes will begin with a 5 to 10 minute warm-up. This is generally followed by 10 to 15 minutes of upper body work, and 20 to 30 minutes working your legs and bottom. Next is 10 minutes of abdominal exercises, and finally a cool-down stretching period.

Whether you want to lose weight or improve your muscle tone, contribute to better circulation and heart health, or want to relieve stress and improve your mood, barre fitness can help. So sign up for a class in your area today, and begin reaping the total body health benefits this wonderfully unique exercise program offers.

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