Lately I’ve been doing something called barre exercise. It sounds like it’s related to ballet, and apparently it’s a mix between things like ballet, yoga and pilates.
It’s a pretty good workout, but that’s not why I fell in love with it.
The reason is Hips. I will explain that below. At the bottom of the post I explain shortly why it’s good for pregnancy, as well as recommend a YouTube channel for barre that I like.
Why is barre good for a nice booty?
Because barre is inspired by ballet, it trains the legs and glutes in a different way than exercises like yoga and pilates, or a lot of gym exercises.
I used to do ballet when I was younger, and then figure skating, so I kind of grew up to that “method”, but unfortunately taking yoga classes unschooled me from doing it right.
Barre trains the glutes in a way that gives you a nice dancer booty and more flexible hips.
Why is barre different to yoga and pilates?
In ballet, you always get told to rotate your legs out.
“Point the toes.”
“Turn out the foot.”
That is what I grew up hearing, but when I started doing yoga, I was told to do the exact opposite. Why? I don’t know. I tried finding information about this, but didn’t find anything useful. Do you know? Tell me in the comments so we can all be informed.
(Here is a comprehensive article about the differences between barre, yoga and pilates.)
What yoga did to my hips
I’m not saying that yoga is bad — definitely not. I love it, and I probably just did everything wrong, or maybe the instructions that yoga teachers gave me is what caused it.
“Flex the feet and point the toes down.”
“Rotate the inner thighs inwards.”
When I hear that, I do as told.
One way or another, my glutes and hamstrings got weaker because I focused on doing it right and ended up doing it wrong.
Yoga is healthy, so we can’t blame it. Or can we? It did cause my knees to hurt, too.
Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s yoga, but either way, the end result was weak glutes and hamstrings.
Perhaps the issue lies in home practice and gym yoga. It’s hard to say.
How I’m fixing it
Oh, my god. I’m telling you, this is the number one effective thing for my hips.
It opens them up and strengthens them, but not in the way that regular squats or other simple exercises do (because I do them wrong, of course, and I’ll mention more about why that is below).
Why is barre superior?
A thing that I’ve had a major difficulty with is activating my muscles, especially glutes and hamstings, but in turn it affects the whole body.
I can do how much squats and yoga poses as I want, but it doesn’t matter if I do it wrong, which is what happens if the muscles aren’t activated.
What does activating a muscle mean?
This is what Dr. Mike Clark, DPT, says about this:
Muscle activation is an exercise technique that wakes up the muscles opposite the tight, short muscles. Stretching alone will not even out the body. The weak muscle needs to be strengthened to keep the opposite muscle from getting tight again. Muscle activation focuses on those weak muscles and strengthens them to keep your joints moving properly.Quote found at sharecare.com
Basically, it helps keep your body aligned. Maybe that’s why my alignment is way off, no matter how much I try to stretch in order to fix it.
Why is Hip Alignment Important?
Basically — if the hips aren’t aligned, the rest of the body isn’t either
The hips, pelvis and lower abs/back are sort of the center of the body. Both in yoga and qi gong, the breathing is focused on the lower belly area.
There is a muscle called the psoas, and it connects the hips to the spine and upper body. If the glutes and hamstrings aren’t activated or strong enough, the psoas gets tight, and it’s kind of intuitive to see why that is bad.
A few things that can happen if your hips aren’t aligned:
- It gets hard to breathe correctly.
- You can get an anterior tilt.
- You can get lower back pain.
- Standing straight can be a struggle.
- Your muscles get tight and stiff.
- You get less energy (because of the reasons above).
All of the things above are things that I’ve personally experienced, and am experiencing right now.
Basically, nothing good comes out of it. But barre is helping me. And for me personally, it’s working better than yoga.
How Barre is Helping Me
As I mentioned above, it helps me realign my hips, and that is by helping me activate my glutes and hamstrings, which in turn makes my core stronger, but it also helps with my flexibility and gives me a nice booty.
How it activates my glutes and hamstrings
A lot of the barre exercises are targeted at the lower body, which is one of the reasons. Another is the type of exercises. And now we come back to the outward rotation of the hip.
The golden key to why barre is so good.
The hip rotators aren’t worked a lot in regular exercises, at least not the ones I’ve done, but those are key to the dancer booty and flexibility. Well, part of it. An important part. One that I think a lot of people miss.
Squats give you a squat booty, which is nice, too, but often results in very tight muscles (at least for me. If you had a different experience, tell me).
In barre, you get to do plies and arabesque-like movements, which also strengthens your back and stretches your muscles at the same time. I swear, sometimes I feel the stretch on the standing leg more intensely (while lifting my back leg) than I feel the other leg that’s doing the work.
It’s nice when I don’t have to stretch as much to maintain the little flexibility that I have, as opposed to when I’ve only done regular squats — which are sooo popular at the gym.
The focus on rotating the hips outwards really helps me activate my glutes, more than anything, and as I do that, my hamstrings naturally follow along. Everything just gets in a better place, somehow.
How Barre helps with my Flexibility
Before barre, I was stretching a lot but having little result. And that’s because of all of the above reasons. Bad alignment, bad posture, weak muscles — you get the idea.
I’m a former figure skater, why do I even have this problem? Sitting, my friends. Sitting.
Because barre doesn’t tighten my muscles as much as other exercises, it helps me maintain flexibility, but the muscles that get worked out also help me increase my flexibility more easily.
But the road is long. I only started recently, so there is still much work to do, and for an optimal pregnancy, it’s crucial that I fix this — because if I have lower back pain now, imagine what I would have when pregnant if I don’t get this sorted out.
Why Barre is Beneficial For Pregnancy
Shelly Saurage, at bodysculptbarestudio.com says that barre improves mood, sleep, energy and prevents excessive weight gain, but she also talks a bit about the muscles targeted in barre being beneficial for maintaining a good posture in pregnancy and making delivery easier.
In other words, barre:
- Improves sleep.
- Improves mood.
- Improves energy levels.
- Prevents excessive weight gain.
- Improves posture.
- Prepares you for delivery by making you stronger and increasing your endurance.
- Makes your life easier postpartum (because of the above reasons).
It’s always important to stay fit, but I think that in no time is it as important as in pregnancy. And a bonus with barre that some other exercises fail at, is flexibility, which I can imagine is helpful for giving birth.
- Barre strengthens the hips.
- Barre helps you maintain and increase flexibility.
- Barre gives you a nice dancer booty.
- Barre improves various aspects of your life (sleep, energy, strength, mood).
- Barre is beneficial for pregnancy.
Lastly, I want to recommend a YouTube channel dedicated to Barre. It’s small and doesn’t have many videos, but I really enjoyed the workouts I’ve tried so far.
Her channel name is Coach Kel, and this is one of her videos (the first one I tried):
It’s pretty intense, but in a good and endurable way.
Have you tried barre? What did you think about it? Or did I inspire you to try it? Give me a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.