Sometimes we all need a little variation in our exercise routines. Because of the cold weather (yes, it even gets chilly here in Charleston, SC) I have been trying some different indoor workouts.
Barre workouts, which, as the name implies, utilize a ballet barre, have become pretty popular over the last few years. I will focus specifically on Pure Barre, but there are quite a few different types of barre workouts, including barre 3, Figure 4, Physique 57, and The Bar Method.
Pure Barre was developed in 2001 by fitness buff Carrie Dorr. Carrie started the business in the basement of an office building (without any bathrooms - ha!), and it has grown into a thriving franchise.
According to its website, Pure Barre is "the fastest, most effective way to change the shape of your body." Pure Barre will lift your seat; tone your thighs, abs and arms; and burn tons of calories. What's not to love?
Classes are usually held in ballet studios. But don't let the word "ballet" throw you - this isn't a dance class, and you won't be surrounded by ballerinas! Instead, Pure Barre uses small isometric movements set to motivating music to strengthen and stretch your muscles. The result is lean muscles without the bulk, which a lot of women (and many men!) want.
If you try a Pure Barre class, you may find yourself standing on your tippy toes while squeezing a ball between your inner thighs, or doing little leg lifts with your back pressed against the wall while holding on (for dear life - just kidding!) to the ballet barre. You will also be doing leg lifts, upper-body lifts, and some amazing stretching that you will feel throughout your entire body.
Pure Barre also asks you to block out any thoughts for the duration of the hour-long class, so you may also get some of the same mental benefits as people who meditate or practice yoga. A word of warning though: You will not be able to block out all your thoughts for the entire hour - at least not at first! Learning to control your thoughts is always a work-in-progress endeavor, so don't get discouraged when your thoughts start flying all over the studio!
If you can't find a Pure Barre class in your area, look for DVDs that you can do in your own living room. Of course you won't have a ballet barre in your home, but you can use the back of a chair or the arm of your couch and achieve the same basic result.