If you’ve ever taken a barre class, you know that male participants are an elusive species. Every once in a while they pop their heads through the foliage, but then they quickly disappear into the jungle. Today we’re dismantling three of the biggest misconceptions that might be keeping you from trying the barre out — whether you’re a guy or not.
It requires a ballerina’s grace
While barre incorporates some ballet elements, most people who take the classes aren’t trained dancers, and there is definitely no pirouetting or leaping around the room. What these classes do take from dance are those controlled movements that develop strong, powerful bodies — movements that make your quads quiver and your hamstrings howl. No grace required, just some stubborn resistance when your body is begging you to come out of that deep lunge while weights are dangling above your head.
It’s not intense enough
“This is an extremely challenging workout and it definitely doesn’t look as challenging as it is,” barre studio co-owner Jennifer Cosco explains. “The guys are intimidated...and they start out saying things like, ‘What’s this ballet thing?’ Then they get in there and start saying, ‘OK, I’m not moving that much, but I’m dying here. And why are my legs shaking?’” Those small isometric movements in barre classes appear harmless until you feel the burn of your twentieth “down an inch, up an inch.” Burr Leonard, fitness expert and founder of The Bar Method, explains that “you’re getting a killer workout because the one-inch increments are enough to fire up the muscle and make it more elastic, but not too big to tear the muscle.”
It’s not my style of workout
Since barre classes combine various fitness techniques, they appeal to a wide range of enthusiasts. The sister co-owners of Studio Barre Bird Rock came from “complete opposite ends of the fitness spectrum yet both saw such amazing results,” Cosco said. “She’s all about surfing and yoga and working out in the most natural environments possible, and I played Division I volleyball and run ultra-marathons.” There’s also not one “official barre workout,” so different studios and instructors will offer a variety of methods to suit contrasting workout styles, whether they’re based on Barre3, Physique 57, Bar Method, Booty Barre, or whatever other creation pops up next month. Each class will likely differ from the last and may incorporate weights, resistance bands, yoga mats, balls, and other torture devices to keep things interesting.
So, now that we’ve cleared up all that confusion, ready to take a class or try it out at home with a portable ballet barre? Browse our other articles for more inspiration, and contact us with any questions you may have.