Thinking about trying a barre class, but are worried that you have no dance experience?
It’s true that some of the exercises in the class are inspired and drawn from ballet and jazz dance; however, you do not need to be a dancer to enjoy barre classes. One of the many benefits of a barre class is that the class offers a total body workout in less than an hour.
The barre classes that I teach begin with easy to follow cardio dance. I work with light hand weights during the cardio section to tone the upper body.
Muscular strength and endurance
After the cardio section, strengthening exercises are performed at the barre or center floor. Here you will you will find ballet leg positions and exercises that may be performed in, lateral rotation, “turn out” or parallel. Working in lateral rotation will tone up your gluteal muscles and thighs and target muscles that may be missed in traditional weight training. The barre exercises are performed using multiple repetitions to train muscular endurance and sculpt a long, lean body. Core stability exercises utilizing resistance bands are performed on the mat or standing to sculpt further and strengthen your entire body. You will most likely feel a burn and may be sore after your class, but these exercises will not bulk you up.
Barre classes take the body through a full range of motion and will help increase your overall flexibility. Dynamic flexibility exercises are used throughout the class, particularly in the warm-up. Due to a thorough warm-up and muscle work, your body is better prepared for the end of class stretches.
Barre classes can help you lose weight and promote lean muscle gains. The cardio component will help burn calories and the muscle work will build lean muscles creating a slender figure. Barre classes can help increase your metabolic rate due to the fact that they are a comprehensive exercise class.
Exercise has been shown to reduce feelings of depression, particularly aerobic exercise and resistance training. Barre classes not only give you a great physical workout, but are also upbeat and fun contributing to an overall positive mental state.
With all the benefits above, it’s easy to see why a well-designed barre class provides cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular fitness, flexibility, body composition, and neuromotor fitness covering all the components of physical fitness.
If your child loves to move to music, enrolling them in a dance class seems like a great idea. However, with so many studios to choose from, it can be daunting to decide which studio is the best fit. Below are a few things to help you narrow your search.
Obviously, choosing a studio close to your home is helpful, especially if your child would like to take more than one dance class per week. If there is more than one dance studio in your neighborhood, how do you know which would be the best fit for your child?
A few questions to ask are:
Professional versus Recreational track
Children who are interested in pursuing dance professionally will need to dance several days per week. This requires a financial and time commitment from parents. To give you an idea, as a former professional dancer, by the time I was in high school, I took 13+ classes per week.
However, if your child wants to learn to dance for fun and fitness, once a week is fine. As I mentioned in other articles, dance has many benefits including physical/mental well-being, creative/self-expression, body positivity, and helps develop healthy lifestyle choices.
Competitive versus Non-competitive Environment
Dance competitions are very popular and I do believe there is a healthy way for children to participate in competitive dance. I competed as a child and have also judged dance competitions. I have also seen the best and the worst of the dance competition world. Stay tuned for my blog on Dance Competitions.
Here is my advice for competitive dance parents:
Most studios offer a non-competitive, recreational dance track. The key here is to find the right class and teacher for your child. Sometimes studios put inexperienced teachers on these classes. My advice is to make sure the studio has a professionally trained teacher on all classes, regardless of the track. A non-competitive environment suits many sensitive, young artists and creates a space where all children can thrive.
When looking for a dance instructor, education, experience, and training are essential ingredients. Things to look for are certifications from accredited dance programs, college degrees, and professional dance experience. Theatrical unions, such as Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA demonstrate that the instructor has performed in professional venues.
Most studios offer performance opportunities such as dance recitals, competition teams as mentioned above, and showcases. Two things to consider are time and money. Performances require additional rehearsals for the children as well as costume fees and new dance shoes. I know some parents do not want to participate in performances, so for many reasons, it’s optional at my studio.