Shimmy over, Zumba. Dance fitness has taken a more graceful turn toward workout classes that marry ballet with Pilates. Known as barre fitness, the exercise has grown in popularity thanks to nationwide programs like Xtend Barre, Pure Barre and Pop Physique, all of which are offered locally.
|Barre fitness is a total-body workout designed to make participants more toned and flexible through dance- and Pilates-inspired movements focused on the core and abs. “You’ll feel it, and the results are fast,” says Stefanie Ellis, an instructor of Xtend Barre, a worldwide program that originated in Palm Beach County.
While each program varies slightly, a typical barre class is held in a dance studio and incorporates floorwork, movements at a ballet barre and combinations with equipment such as bands, light weights and exercise balls. The classes are fast paced and set to music, and the movements usually differ every time. Devout participants build strength and flexibility and develop a long, lean dancer’s body.
“Every single angle of your body is worked in one hour,” says Stefanie Ellis, owner of the Xtend Barre studios in West Palm Beach and Boca Raton. “It’s not like you have to leave and work out your arms or abs; it’s all in there.”
All Xtend Barre instructors are certified in Pilates, but that doesn’t mean students have to be, Ellis assures: The movements can be modified for individual abilities, regardless of any dance or Pilates background.
Pure Barre participants burn between 300 and 600 calories per class, estimates Melissa Hirsch, who owns four studios in Palm Beach County. Ellis recommends taking three to four barre classes per week, and Hirsch predicts students see physical results after 10 classes.
Barre classes are often capped around 20-25 people—the majority of whom are women, simply because most men have never held an interest in ballet, Ellis points out. “It’s really fun for a lot of women who always wanted to be a ballerina but never went that far,” she says.
Hirsch says she has students who tell her Pure Barre is their new happy hour. “It’s more than a workout; it’s really a lifestyle,” she says.