What do Madonna, Karlie Kloss and Natalie Portman all have in common? Aside from their Beverly Hills postcodes and six figure salaries; each of these fit, fierce and fabulous women regularly hit the barre – but it’s not martinis they’re ordering with a twist… Yep, I’m talking about the barre method, a fitness trend that’s gained so much momentum it’s near impossible to ignore. From Booty Barre to Barre Attack and Xtend Barre, fitness clubs around the world are as keen as dijon mustard to jump onboard the ballet bandwagon – heading express to toned body town – and with very good reason.
The perfect fusion of ballet, Pilates and yoga – barre boasts a long list of benefits including increased flexibility, strength and endurance, an improved mind/body connection, reduction in body fat and cellulite and improved bone health just to name a few. With a wide range of moves in its repertoire, standing poses like plies work your whole body at the same time… holy strength! We’ve included 5 ballet moves below that are perfect to tack onto the end of any workout to help you develop those long and lean dancer muscles.
PLIE IN FIRST POSITION
Why: Tones the inner and outer thighs, glutes, and waist.
How: Begin standing in first position, legs turned out from the thigh bone, heels together, inner thighs pressed together. (Most people force a turn-out. To make sure you do not, align your second toe with the turn out of your knee.) Arms form an oval in front of the body.
Lift the belly and lengthen the spine upward, as you bend the knees and slowly lower the hips four inches from your heels. Keep the hips over the heels, tailbone drawn down.
Press through the heels, draw the inner thighs together and engage the glutes to return to standing. If you need balance assistance, hold on to the back of a chair or increase the stability challenge. Repeat 10 plies.
Why: Tone the abdominals, obliques, glutes, inner and outer thighs, and arms.
How: Stand with legs together and turned out from the hips. Extend arms out from shoulders, palms facing forward.
Point the right foot as you bend the knee out to the side and drag toes up to the knee of the supportive leg. This is called Passé.
From here, hold the thigh on lifted leg still and extend the leg out to the side from the knee. Bend the knee and return the foot to Passé.
Repeat this leg extension/Passé press 10 times, then draw foot down the shin and return to the floor. Repeat one set on each leg.
Why: Tone the inner and outer thighs, glutes, and arms plus increase cardiovascular endurance.
How: Begin in fifth position, where legs are turned out from the hips, with one foot in front of the other. Try to align your front toes the the heel of the back foot. Arms form an oval in front of the body.
Bend the knees slightly, brace the core, and jump into the air. Squeeze the legs together in the air.
Land like a cat, soft and quietly, into fifth position. Jump 20 times with each leg in front.
Try it jumping on a single leg, by softly placing one foot behind the ankle of the supportive leg. Try 10 leaps on each leg.
Why: Tones the arms, upper and lower back, abdominals, glutes, inner and outer thighs and glutes.
How: Stand tall, abdominals lifted, legs together and turned out from the hips. Extend arms out to the side of shoulders.
Reach the right arm forward as you extend and lift the right leg toward the sky. Point the toe.
From arabesque, begin to bend the supportive knee and lower the hips as you lift the back leg higher and tilt the chest toward the ground.
FRONT LEG EXTENSION
Why: Tones the inner and outer thighs, abdominals and arms.
How: Stand tall, abdominals lifted, legs together and turned out from the hips. Reach arms out to the side of shoulders, palms facing forward.
With control, lift the leg toward the sky, pointing the toe. Hold a moment at the top and lower it to the ground even slower than you lifted it. Repeat 15 on each leg.