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9 Reasons to Hit the Barre Tonight

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    Barre Makes You More Graceful

    Are you a dance cardio flunkie because you're known as the girl with two left feet? Well, at a barre workout, the only thing you'll have to worry about shaking are your muscles! Barre relies on isometrics (a series of small, controlled movements that are done while keeping your body still), which allows you to really focus on how your body moves. The end result? A confidence-boosting improvement in your coordination and grace, Pouw says.

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    Barre Gives You a Lean, Defined Body

    Sure, most positions are based on ballet moves (along with some influence from yoga and Pilates), but don't let that fool you. Going back to the isometrics: "The movements are tiny, but deceptively challenging, and through repetition, they cause your muscles to shake from fatigue, which in turn builds strength and endurance," Pouw says. What does that mean for your body? Lean definition for days, especially in your core, thighs, and butt.

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    Barre Makes You Crazy Flexible

    "You don't need to be flexible to start taking barre classes, but the amount of stretching you'll do in each class will guarantee you see increased flexibility," Pouw says. The health benefits of increasing your overall range of motion are endless, from improving circulation to injury prevention, she adds. Exhibit A: Being limber was associated with better cardiovascular health in an American Journal of Physiology study. Another reason to heart the exercise!

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    Barre Reduces Back Pain

    "The most common issue people come in to barre classes with is back pain, and it usually stems from weak core muscles and sitting at the computer all day," Pouw says. A typical barre class focuses heavily on posture and alignment. "As you strengthen your core, you'll notice you can sit longer, stand taller, and your lower back will take less stress and tension throughout the day."

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    Barre Helps Clear Your Mind

    Had a bad day? It's not just runner's high—exercise in general ups your happiness factor, according to a study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. And barre is no exception: "Our brains are always filled with thoughts of work, kids, relationships, and what's next on our busy schedule, but barre requires you to put all those things aside and focus on every tiny muscle you're working," Pouw says. So you'll feel refreshed after a 55-minute session. And if your latest work drama starts creeping up? "The burning and shaking will bring you right back," Pouw says.

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    Barre Gives You Ah-mazing Abs

    All of that holding, pressing, and pulling on the barre may have you swearing about how you're never ever (seriously, ever!) coming back to a barre class again, but "your abs are being engaged for roughly 80 percent of the class," says Tanya Becker, Physique 57 cofounder.

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    Barre Builds Your Self-Esteem

    When your body doesn't cooperate with what you want it to do (like your knees acting up in the middle of your half-marathon training), it can lead to a case of fitness frustration. But because of the non-impact nature of barre workouts, you can be a devotee for life, Pouw says. "Being able to stick with it and see the results of that commitment helps build confidence," she says. Oh yeah, and your crazy-defined body may have a little bit to do with that self-esteem, too.

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    Barre Makes You Stronger

    Lifting heavy-duty weights isn't the only way to step up your strength. Barre targets muscle groups that are often dormant, so the structure of your body is truly getting stronger. A cool side effect to that: It helps increase bone density, according to Becker.

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    Barre Revs Up Your Metabolism

    While you're sweating it out, here's how barre is transforming your body: It's kicking your heart rate up, which helps build lean muscle. And because of that, you're increasing your metabolic rate, which means you're burning calories even when you're resting, Becker says.


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