How to Master These 3 Tough Barre Exercises at Home

1
Barre Exercises You're Probably Doing Wrong

Barre Workout
Getty Images

Ballet, and more specifically, the fitness offshoot of barre dance, is making waves in the world of the boutique fitness industry. With more women flocking to studios, buying home-based DVDs and seeking online workout portals to claim a "dancer's body," it's no surprise that some of the intricacies of the activity are often lost, which can lead to potential injury.

The most challenging part when starting a new barre class is learning to maintain proper form throughout each exercise. Initially, barre exercises can feel uncomfortable and awkward, so it's easy to slip out of the correct posture into a form that feels more natural and less strenuous. But doing so reduces the impact of the exercise while leaving you open to injury.

Because barre exercises are focused on building a strong core, it's important to do the moves correctly. It's a good idea to attend at least one or two live classes to receive personal feedback from a certified instructor, but if you're unable to head to the studio, online portals, such as FitnessGlo, recommend starting out with simple movements before adding more challenging modifications.

As with any new workout routine, be patient and start slow. Check out the slideshow above to view three common barre exercises, then double-check your form to make sure you're doing them correctly.

About the Author, Ilyse Baker

Ilyse Baker is an acclaimed dancer, a respected choreographer, and expert dance instructor, as well as a barre fitness expert for FitnessGlo. All ages and dance levels flock to Ilyse's classes for her fun user-friendly routines. It is not just what Ilyse teaches, though, that attracts people, but also rather who she is. Her vivacious personality, easy-to-follow technique and resultant sweat-laden routines combine with a message of empowerment and spiritual uplift to transform the lives of everyone fortunate enough to experience her magic.

Ilyse has a B.A. in Dance Performance and Dance Education from Point Park University, the premier performance school (second only to Julliard). She was the 2008 winner of Exercise TV's Top Trainer in the country for dance. Ilyse was selected to be a Lululemon Ambassador, handpicked by Reebok and Cirque du Soleil to helm their latest workout Jukari-Fit to Fly; and she participated in the SHAPE Bikini Body Tour teaching Beach Body Dance Jam. She has presented at many conventions including AFEEX in Beijing, China. Ilyse co-starred in a dance video with ABC's Dancing with the Stars champion, Cheryl Burke. She has also worked with NBC's Biggest Loser trainer, Kim Lyons.

2
Contemporary Barre Arabesque Leg Lifts

Contemporary Arabesque Leg Lifts
FitnessGlo, Ilyse Baker

This Barre move is a traditional ballet move that engages your entire core with emphasis on your lower back. To increase your range of motion in an arabesque pose, it's very important to increase your core strength and back flexibility. Strength training the upper and lower back, glutes and abdominals will improve your arabesque leg lifts to help you shape strong, sexy, and sculpted legs.

It's important to watch your hip placement while lifting your leg, as your hips should be squared off to the front of the room. Only rise up on the ball of your foot when you are stable and ready. It's better to progress into this modification as it requires strong ankle stability.

Here’s how to perform the move:  

  1. Remove your socks and shoes. 
  2. Start in a ballet first position by kissing your heels together and allowing your toes to point towards the diagonals of the room. 
  3. Point and extend your right foot straight out to the front with your arms moving forward. 
  4. Shift your weight onto that right foot by rising up on the ball of your foot while your left leg lifts behind you. This happens in one motion and the arms reach over the head to a V. 
  5. For a modified version, stay on a flat foot for the supporting side.

Perform 3 sets of 12 on the right side then repeat on the left side.

3
Attitude Leg Lifts

Attitude Leg Lifts
FitnessGlo, Ilyse Baker

This barre exercise is done with a straight leg and attitude -  a bent knee. It can either be done with an upright posture, or a reach with the upper body tilting forward. Feel free to use a wall or have a chair handy for extra stability.

You can keep your supporting foot flat on the floor, or you can lift your heel (this is more of a challenge). In either case, keep your ribs and shoulders squared to the floor, while your hips open to the side and your leg reaches away from your torso.

Holding the position is a challenge, and attempting to increase the length and reach of your  lifted leg should be done with care to ensure the torso maintains the challenge.

Try three sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise and add sets, as you get stronger.

You must have a strong core to perform this exercise properly. Remember to keep your shoulders away from your ears and square with your hips. The supporting leg must be straight. Once you get the hang of this barre exercise, you're likely to see your booty firm up as your legs get stronger. Barre moves are a great way to target every muscle of your lower body.

4
Leap for Your Dreams

Leap for Your Dreams
FitnessGlo, Ilyse Baker

Not only is this a great way to sculpt your body, but it's a heart-pumping workout as well. This exercise requires you to jump, so if you have any kind of knee issues, please do not perform the jump. Instead, simply stand with your feet wide and rise up and down on the balls of your feet. 

To add some cardio to the exercise, perform it quickly with your arms reaching up and down as you rise up and down. The biggest issue most people have is the landing of the leap. Land ball-to-heel with slightly bent knees. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start in first position (heels kissed together)
  2. Point starting leg out, then plie (bend) your knees to prepare
  3. From your lowest point, jump up, landing as lightly as you can starting on the balls of your feet before touching your heel down.

Continue Reading