When it comes to choosing an exercise routine, I personally think that first and foremost you should find something that you enjoy and that works for you which I have written about in greater detail here and here. Ultimately, if you don’t enjoy doing something, the chances you will keep it up over the long haul are significantly lower because research shows that habits stick better when they’re pleasurable. Although some of it is purely psychological, an activity seems easier and more convenient when it is fun or provides some level of satisfaction. Once you have found something that you like and suits you, you should try to find ways to get the most “bang for your buck.” Your time and money are limited resources. So if you are investing them in something, you should figure out how to maximize them. This is true of course not only for fitness and exercise, but all aspects of our lives. However, to avoid going too far off on a tangent, I will limit the scope here to how to get the most out of your barre class.
Come ready to work!
Set a specific goal before each class and remind yourself of it throughout the entire session. Make it something small and attainable. You might think “today no matter what I am going to stay on my highest tip toes” or “this time I am going to focus on good posture, keeping my shoulders down away from my ears.” There is nothing too small – this is how progress is made and it is motivating to feel yourself actually do exactly that in class.
Come early enough to get “your” spot and ready to go
To me, there is nothing worse than rushing at the last minute or running in late if at all preventable (some days this is impossible, but on the normal day this is a way to get the most out of your barre class). It helps to have a second to settle in, grab your equipment and your breath before we start. Plus chatting with others is a fun way to get to know other classmates, lament over the absolute ridiculousness of that last class, and build your barre squad. Community and camaraderie are a big benefit and side effect of barre.
Listen carefully and ask questions
A barre class moves fast, so try to be present, focus and ask questions during or after class if something is unclear. Yes, there are a lot things that your teacher will say over and over (and over). But that is because they are important! Listen to the cues and try to follow each individual step or component part to get into the best position and get the most out of the work. And if you don’t understand something, it’s ok because a lot of the exercises and terminology is completely unique to barre and the muscles are ones you probably don’t work in other exercises. If you get overwhelmed, the best thing you can do is to focus on the muscle group being targeted and work deeper into contraction of that particular area as opposed to making a big (or even visible) movement.
Stick with it
Being consistent and showing up to your class regularly is definitely a big contributor to the overall progress towards your goals, but also sticking with each individual exercise until the (sometimes bitter) end is how you get results. As your muscles fatigue and you want to give up, dig a little deeper and hold on for 10 more seconds at a time. Push past the burning and achy muscles and into that shake zone where your body is becoming fatigued – it really is where all the change happens and it’s so worth it. You actually are stronger than you think and I promise you will be surprised at what you can do if you don’t let your mind talk you out of it. The feeling of empowerment that you have after you fight through the hard parts is out of this world.
Choose progress over perfection!
Barre is not easy for anyone. We all start at different levels and have varying strengths and weak areas. The type of work that we do is probably different from anything else you have done in the past and it can be challenging to get the mind/body connection precisely right. But the better you understand barre and the more frequently you do it, the more you will understand the technique. From there you can work even deeper into the muscles and see bigger results. A common exclamation of barre veterans is that it is something which actually becomes more challenging as you get better, but you are definitely getting better!
Lastly, share the love
Another way to get the most out of your barre class is to bring a friend. For a lot of people, having a partner in crime helps hold them accountable during class to show up and to work hard. And for almost all people, doing anything is only more enjoyable when accompanied by a friend. Sharing something you care about with others is rewarding, and doubly so if it’s something which contributes to your health and fitness goals.
Whether you have been a million times or have yet to try it, keeping these tips in mind will help you to get the most out of your barre class! If you have other ideas or things that have helped you in the past – I would love to hear about them and I hope to see you at the barre soon!