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5 Beginner Barre Exercises You Can Do at Home

Don't live near a studio or still a little too shy to pump and plie in public? Stay home and try these beginner barre exercises from Julie Erickson, owner Endurance Pilates and Yoga and Barre Boston.

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Standing Hip Extension
Courtesy of Julie Erickson
Courtesy of Julie Erickson
Courtesy of Julie Erickson
Courtesy of Julie Erickson
Courtesy of Julie Erickson
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Standing Hip Extension

Targets hips, butt, and thighs

  • Stand knee-to-knee, inner thighs glued together.
  • Place an exercise ball behind your knee. Start off with knees touching, pelvis neutral, belly pulled in and up, and inner thighs glued together.
  • Pull heel toward your butt to engage hamstring and press heel and ball back with tiny pulses. Do 10 reps, recheck posture and repeat 3 more sets of 10 pulse reps. Switch sides.

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First and Second Position Plie

Targets hips, butt, thighs, and legs

  • Find your natural turnout in first position. Stand as tall as possible, legs together, creating a long line from heels to crown. Pull abdominals in, lift ribs up, and keep waistline long. Turn legs out from hip sockets only, tightening glutes and sealing inner thighs together. Allow knees and ankles to follow hip movement. This is first position.
  • Using a chair for support if needed, bend knees a bit (checking for proper knee, toe and hip alignment) and lengthen back to start, squeezing your butt while lifting back up, knees straight. Hold halfway down from first position for 10 pulses, squeezing back to top. Lower for a count of three and then lift for a count of one. Repeat 10 times and then reverse -- lower for a count of one and lift for a count of three.
  • Repeat sequence four times with heels down and then try in first position with heels lifted. Step to second position (legs slightly wider than shoulder width with feet turned out, see photo) and repeat sequence with heels down and heels lifted.

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Calf Releve

Targets hips, butt, thighs, and legs

  • Using a chair for support if needed, start with legs together and parallel, press into toes and lift heels up. Pull pelvis toward belly button and keep tailbone down to open hip flexors and keep hamstrings engaged.
  • Lower and lift heels 20 times, keeping the entire length on the leg engaged from calves to glutes.
  • Turn out at hips to first position and engage leg muscles from heels to butt. Lift heels, pressing into toes and then lower heels so they graze floor, not allowing weight to rest. Lower and lift heels 20 times. Repeat in parallel and first positions for four more sets.

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Arabesque and Attitude

Targets hips, butt, thighs, and legs

  • Place both hands on chair and square ribcage and shoulders toward chair. Turn legs out to first position. Lift and stretch right leg back, away from floor.
  • Lengthen leg to stretch it high off ground toward the ceiling, allowing torso to come forward. Release a bit and try to stretch leg higher, focusing on lifting from your glutes. Try four long leg reaches and then bend knee, turning out at hip and lifting the leg up for four attitudes.
  • Lift supporting heel off floor and try four more arabesques and four attitudes with lifted heels (releve). Alternate supporting heel up and down between sets and complete five sets of both on each leg.

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Pretzel

Targets hips, butt, thighs, and legs

  • Sitting on mat, move right shin parallel to front of mat, keeping knee in line with hip. Reach left leg back behind you at 45-degree angle.
  • Lengthen torso up and out, in line with front thigh, using hands to lightly support yourself on floor. Lift back leg up from floor, keeping pelvis and lower back still and using core for support.
  • Pulse back leg slightly, then return to the floor for 10 reps. Then with leg slightly raised, press, extending hip and leg back (rather than lifting up), for 10 reps.
  • Alternate 10 lifts and presses for one minute on each side.

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