leroy barre series

A beginner's guide to barre

You've probably heard of many different workout styles: HIIT, yoga, strength training, and even Pilates. But one style that may be new to you is barre.

Barre is actually inspired by ballet, and also has fusions of yoga and Pilates in it – with the aim of "lengthening and strengthening" the body.

So what does it entail and how will it benefit you? Leroy Williamson, who teaches barre classes on The Body Coach App, takes us through what you can expect.

Are you up for trying something new?

So, what is barre?

Barre is actually a low-impact style of workout, so there's no jumping involved. "While some classes may use weights or resistance bands, barre usually consists of using smaller movements that are repeated to really work on things like balance and strength," says Leroy.

And while it might be considered low impact – that certainly doesn't mean it's low intensity! "I always say barre is about strengthening and lengthening the body," adds Leroy. "We want the muscles in long positions, really targeting that core strength.

"It's a great workout to strengthen the body, tone, and then sculpt."

Why should you choose it?

If you're already in the rhythm of your workouts, it can be hard to break out of routine and try something new. So why would someone opt for barre over other workouts?

One of the reasons people do is because of the low impact, says Leroy. "It's friendly on your joints, so a lot of the people I train might have shoulder, knee, hip or ankle problems, where impact is going to cause them pain or discomfort – specifically women going through menopause."

But people also enjoy the change in energy they get from barre. With HIIT, which is intense cardio exercise, there is a lot of jumping and increasing your heart rate to high. Barre is a much more steady pace. You will sweat, burn and get a good workout, says Leroy, but you'll do that without too much stress on your body. You can use it to get stronger without the high impact.

Leroy barre series

It's great for people who want to target their legs, glutes and core, too. Many people who choose to do barre perhaps want to get stronger, but might not want to overload with heavy dumbbells, or don't want to lift weights because of back injuries.

What are the benefits of barre?

Barre can be done anywhere. You don't need to transport heavy weights around, you just need a chair or worktop, which means you can do it when you're on the go, or in a small space. Unlike some cardio workouts where you may need to run around, in barre you're just in one spot.

Strength is a huge benefit to barre, says Leroy. "People notice a difference in the tone of their body from this workout," he says, "the movements keep the muscles tightened, build intensity in the body, and give you a really good burn!"

The slower pace of the workout also means you can connect with your breath more, as you're in controlled, poised movements. "It builds on that mind-muscle connection," says Leroy. "It's a chance to really think about which parts of your body you're working. Often, people will say they feel a sense of calm after a barre workout – it's hard work, but you will also feel focused, present and calm at the same time."

Because of this slower pace, barre incorporates a lot of balance work, adds Leroy, as well as motor skills like coordination, so it really helps with your mobility.

Some people will use barre as a gateway if they've been out of exercise for a while, perhaps, and can't face a high intensity workout. It can help them feel stronger and get moving.

What do people find hard with barre?

"The burn is something that people aren't used to!" says Leroy. Some might find this painful, but the key is to go with your depth. In a lot of movements, you’re working with a range of motion. If you're in a plie, for example, you can come up and down an inch – you don't have to go all the way down and all the way up again. It's about finding the depth that'll work for you and your body.

Sometimes barre may include small weights, too – but you can do it with bodyweight to start with. And even if you do a class with a timer, you can take rests and breaks within the timer if it feels too much.

Barre is very complementary to HIIT workouts, or other high intensity cardio exercises. But remember, the best workout is the one you can do.

"I love the burn barre brings," adds Leroy. "I definitely have a different attitude when I'm doing a barre workout vs HIIT. I always feel like I'm nourishing my body."

Fancy trying out barre yourself? The Body Coach App has a whole series of barre workouts with Leroy for all levels. Find out more.

This article was written by The Body Coach content team.

Download The Body Coach app

large splash image
small splash image

Related articles

Get the latest news from The Body Coach

Kick-start your health and fitness journey with my regular newsletters full of workouts, recipes, inspiration and great offers.