Body Barre Class Exercises For Critical Thinking

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Speaker 1: Empire Broadcasting presents "The Professional's Roundtable" with Christopher Celery, 9 to 2 p.m. Hear what's hot in the professional world. Timely topics to propel your career to the next level. "Professional's Roundtable," 9 to 2 p.m., exclusively on Empire Broadcasting.

Christopher: Welcome back to Empire Radio. This is "The Professional's Roundtable." I am your host, Christopher Celery, and at the Roundtable right now I have the studio-owner of The Workout Barre. She's also an author and choreographer of "Workouts for Women" fitness manuals and DVDs. From Spring, Texas, let's welcome Joni Hyde to the Roundtable. Joni, welcome to the Roundtable, thank you for accepting our invitation to be here and for coming with us live on the radio.

Joni: Thank you. I'm happy to be here with you.

Christopher: So, why don't you start us off and tell us a little about who you are and what you do?

Joni: Well, I'm Joni Hyde, I am a homeschool mom and fitness professional and I'm the studio-owner of The Workout Barre here in Springs.

Christopher: Alrighty, now barre seems to be growing quickly in popularity, so just what is it?

Joni: Okay, good question. Barre is a hybrid of ballet, Pilates, and modern exercise movements all merged together, and at The Workout Barre, we present barre in a group fitness class that's choreographed to music. And barre has been around for decades, but here in the United States, only about 5% of women who exercise actually even know what barre is. So, that's an interesting fact. But barre is traced back to the '30's, a woman named Lotte Berk, a dancer, she fled Germany and she experienced significant back injuries so she collaborated with orthopedic physicians and together they came up with this rehabilitative therapy and that became the most primitive form of barre. And upon that approach, we founded The Workout Barre.

Christopher: Alrighty, now how is the atmosphere at Workout Barre different from that of a traditional gym?

Joni: Oh, it's very different. We're nothing like a gym. Actually, we're a small 2,500 square foot studio. We have a locker room, a shower, a changing room, and our main studio, where we have the group fitness classes, and we also have one private room for personal barre sessions. But the main differences are that the smaller size creates an atmosphere where we're able to give really attentive service to our clients and it's an atmosphere where our clients could accomplish impressive results without feeling like they're being watched or judged. And they also create a community atmosphere here because they're with supportive, like-minded women and they see each other several times a week. So, it's a really nice place where women come together and they encourage each other and motivate each other.  

Christopher: Alrighty, now what type of clientele is attracted to your studio and who is barre appropriate for?

Joni: Okay, well, we've got clients of all ages. We have young women in their teens, and mature women up into their 70s, some ladies who just started exercising and some who are recovering from an injury or have a chronic injury, some who are very fit, and we even have pregnant clients. So, virtually anyone can do barre. But, you know, there are several different scenarios that I see over and over with women who come for the first time. And a lot of them say they haven't worked out in a long time and they're self-conscious about working out in front of others. Some say they just, you know, dread going to the gym, they dread that atmosphere and they're looking for something different. And some have been injured from high-impact exercise and they're looking for something that's gentle on their body. And one thing that concerns a lot of people is they come and they say, "Gosh, do I have to have dance experience? Do I have to be really coordinated?" And the answer's, "No, you don't need any dance experience or exceptional coordination to participate." So, for the most part, women have similar goals. They want to strengthen their core, they want more definition, and they want to get to their ideal weight, but they're concerned about not getting injured in the process.

Christopher: Alrighty, so tell me about the variety of classes that The Workout Barre offers.

Joni: Well, it's important to have variety in the exercise program because that prevents injury. So, I designed our class menu to offer several unique class formats. So, women can cross-train their bodies within one studio and our typical class is 60 minutes long, although we do offer some express classes, too. All of our classes incorporate that mind-body connection which you've probably heard of, and basically what that means is that you have to focus on what you're doing and not just mindlessly move around. And focusing in on exercise actually benefits you a lot more than just moving through the movements. And it benefits you physically as well as mentally because when you're really focusing, the distractions of the day are blocked out in that hour. So, it gives you a lot of stress relief. And currently, we offer five class formats. We have Open Barre, which is our benchmark class, and all our other classes are offshoots of open barre. We have Cardio-endurance Barre, which incorporates larger range of motion moves and cardio segments so you get more of an aerobic workout. We've got a class called Barre-Lattes, which is a varying class that we created that utilizes some floor work elements of open barre and it's got a heavy Pilates flair to it, focusing on the core. We've got high-intensity training class that blends elements of Open Barre and we do 20 minutes of high-intensity cardiovascular training. And the beauty of that class format is that it increases your cardiovascular fitness more consistently than a one-hour cardio workout. Another class we have is called Barre Defined, and in this class, we use the added resistance of exercise bands, and that focuses on strengthening and sculpting. But my favorite service is called Personal Barre, and that's a one-on-one session that I have. And it's a one-time session and it's the most valuable 60-minute investment that a client can make for themselves at The Workout Barre. And basically, it gives me an opportunity to know the client and it's not a class, an exercise class, but it's a learning session that I spend focusing on teaching the client everything they need to know in order to maximize their benefits in class and give them an understanding of why they're doing what they're doing. And, you know, in general, I find that, in life, when people understand why they're doing something, they're better able to execute it than when they're simply being told to do something with no explanation of why.

Christopher: Alrighty, and what's unique about the results that women get from the classes at The Workout Barre?

Joni: It's unique because...I'll tell you, a huge shortcoming of a lot of commercial fitness facilities is the lack of focus on strengthening the core, increasing balance and flexibility, so those are our main focuses at The Workout Barre. And talking about the core, all of our class formats include a heavy focus on the core, which is our bodies' natural corset. And it takes a lot of mental focus to really engage the core, and so we teach that so our clients understand how to get that result. And, regarding balance, barre is very different because unlike sitting on an exercise machine or using a Pilates Reformer to balance on, you have the barre to utilize for stability, and that, you know, gives you far less balance and it causes you to have to activate your stabilizing muscles, which pretty much lie dormant during most conventional exercise. And incorporating those smaller muscles increases overall balance, which is very critical as we age. Another thing is a major focus on stretching, and that's incorporated into all of our classes because you're doing a lot of engaging the muscles and it's very important that you get that flexibility, too, so that you're balanced. So, the workouts that you get here are very balanced and you get that core focus and that balance and flexibility.

Christopher: Alrighty. Well, Joni, it's been great having you on the show toady. We're gonna send everybody off to your website, which is, the You can also send an email to, it is the same spelling, or you can give them a call directly, (832) 761-0688, once again (832) 761-0688. Joni, like I said, it was great having you on the show today. Thank you so much.

Joni: Thank you.

Christopher: Absolutely.

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In ballet training, the barre is the horizontal handrail dancers grip while perfecting their technique. Barre-style workouts take those classic ballet warmup exercises and reimagine them for a much wider audience.

While it may seen like a recent phenomenon, barre strength and flexibility training have been in vogue since the times of Louis XVI, says Ginny Wilmerding, a research professor at the University of New Mexico. The modern-day version is primarily a leg-and-butt workout; from your ankles and calves up through your knees, hips and glutes, barre movements are all about improving range of motion, strength and flexibility in your lower half by forcing one of your legs to perform graceful and precise movements while the other supports and stabilizes you, she says.

The sales pitch for all of that excruciating precision is that if you want a dancer’s body, you should train like a dancer. “I mean, who doesn’t want to look like a prima ballerina?” says Michele Olson, a professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University, Montgomery. “You’re talking about nice, lean muscle tone and perfect posture.”

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But just as going to football practice won’t make you look like a linebacker, barre training is more likely to help you achieve a ballerina’s muscle endurance and balance than her body shape.

Those are valuable assets that do not come with every workout. Unlike muscle strength, endurance determines your muscle’s ability to work for long periods of time. (Strength may allow you to lift a weight, but muscle endurance dictates how many times you can lift it.) Barre is also effective at targeting the “support and steady” muscles that run close to your bones and tie into your core and spine—the ones most of us neglect when we spend a lot of time sitting or engaged in forward and backward activities like running, says Olson. “Real 360-degree balance involves a lot of those side-to-side muscles a lot of us don’t use much, and so they become weak,” she says.

MORE: Here Are the Health Benefits of Pilates

Barre is also low impact and has a built-in handhold, making it a relatively safe form of exercise. Especially for older people at risk for falls, barre may be a good way to improve stability and avoid accidents.

But the workout is not without risks, especially for the back and knees. One example: “Ballerinas are taught to tuck the pelvis so that the low back that normally curves inward loses its curve and looks straight,” Olson says. While dancers do that for their art, tucking the pelvis can lead to back pain and injuries for the average exerciser.

Most barre classes have abandoned that sort of strict pelvis-tucking, but Olson says some classes still include extreme plié knee bends that can increase a person’s risk for knee injury. Especially if you decide to go for a run right after your barre class, the “excessive” amount of pressure that some barre moves place on your knees could lead to sprains or strains.

MORE: 7 Surprising Benefits of Exercise

“There are some things dancers do that others have no need for,” says Wilmerding, who advises to take the training slowly and to focus on form, rather than trying to get an intense muscle or cardio workout from the practice. Like tai chi, “you’re working on stability and flexibility and strength, but you have this higher goal of control and aesthetics.”

Another point to keep in mind is that even though barre class brings a good core workout, you may be torching fewer calories than you think. One of the few published studies that has looked at barre’s cardiovascular and metabolic demands found that the activity—at least in its traditional form—doesn’t burn many calories and more closely resembles walking than running in terms of its intensity.

“Like any form of exercise, I think you need some variety,” Olson says. “Do it three to five days a week if you want to get the most out of it, but do something different with a cardiovascular component on the other days.”

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