November 25, 2012

Barre Method: Risk Or Benefit?

The Barre (Bar/Pure Barre/Physique 57) Method is a workout fad touted by several celebrities and passionate fans.  Classes promise long lean muscles and pound shredding workouts, but do they live up to their promises?
First off, these classes are nothing new.  In fact, they are very similar to the original Jane Fonda workout from the 80’s.  They do a variety of movements inspired by ballet (at the bar), combined with core conditioning and flexibility.  Participants perform multiple repetitions of each exercise, flexing and pulsing, until their muscles shake and burn.   However, just because it is painful does not mean the exercise is effective. Continuing through pain can lead to sloppy form and injury. Most classes have little warmup or cooldown, and the stretches are not held long enough to increase flexibility.  The classes focus on spot reducing (a big myth), and there is no cardio or full body strength work.  You may see results at first (if you are new to exercise or dramatically change your routine), but there can be little progression in this type of class.  In addition, many instructors are not certified as group fitness instructors, leaving safety and correction of form a chancy gamble.  That said, if you believe you need the burn to get an effective workout, and you enjoy this type of class, go for it.  Just make sure to watch your form, and get your cardio and strength work in elsewhere.

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