Barre devotees swear this ballet-inspired workout can help you build strength, tighten your core, and sculpt a dancer’s booty.
But if you’re used to doing high-intensity workouts that leave you dripping with sweat, you might be wondering if a barre class — with its slow, controlled micro-movements — can actually be an effective workout.
Short answer: Yes.
“By combining traditional Pilates methods with ballet and high-energy cardio, the workout is designed to sculpt bodies into lean, toned, dancer-like physiques.”
And even if you can crush a round of burpees without thinking twice, don’t be surprised if your muscles are burning and shaking halfway into your first barre workout.
Here are some of the biggest barre benefits — and why you should consider adding barre classes to your workout schedule.
Benefits of Barre Workouts
1. Barre is Beginner-Friendly
If you have two left feet, don’t worry.
Barre movements may have roots in ballet — think arabesque pulses and pliés for days — but there’s no complicated choreography, and you definitely don’t need to be a dancer.
“Barre classes are for all levels, with little to no impact and an option to modify every move,” says Stephanie Saunders, vice president of fitness programming at BODi. “Even if you’re just getting off the couch for the first time, you can do a class without risk of injury.”
2. Barre is a great core workout
Like yoga poses and Pilates exercises, barre workouts target and strengthen your core.
“All of the work at the barre contains a balance element, which will definitely fire up those abs,” Saunders says.
Not only can core exercises improve your strength and stability, but they can also work wonders for your posture.
“If you’ve ever wanted the posture of a ballerina, barre classes will help strengthen the muscles of the upper back and shoulders, which helps you stand up that much taller,” she adds.
3. Barre increases flexibility
We all occasionally skip stretching before or after a workout when we’re short on time. (Guilty!)
“Every barre class contains flexibility movements that range from an easy twist to the full splits,” explains Saunders.
If you can barely touch your toes right now, that may sound intimidating — but you don’t need to be flexible to enjoy a barre workout.
And if you stick to a regular schedule, you’ll see improvements quickly.
“If you are consistent with barre classes, you will increase your flexibility,” Saunders adds.
4. Barre will make you stronger
There are two basic types of muscle fiber — the fast-twitch muscle fibers that help you power through a set of sumo squats or box jumps, and the slow-twitch fibers used in endurance activities.
Barre targets the latter — and that can be surprisingly challenging, even for serious fitness buffs.
(That wobbly leg feeling is where the barre mantra “embrace the shake” comes from.)
“You can sculpt and strengthen your entire body,” Saunders says. “Barre uses light weights, resistance bands, and a ball to increase total-body strength. These workouts will leave your muscles begging for mercy.”
5. Yes, barre counts as cardio
“Cardio is defined as any movement that increases your heart rate, involving large muscle groups in a rhythmic manner,” Saunders says — and barre checks all those boxes.
You’ll be working large muscle groups, and you’ll definitely feel the burn.
And you can ramp up the cardio benefits by choosing a barre workout that focuses specifically on cardio by increasing the range of motion and the intensity of the moves.
6. Barre may help you lose weight
If your goal is to work out for weight loss, it’s important to push yourself past your comfort zone — and a barre workout can definitely do that. It can also help you burn more calories in the long run.
“In addition to burning a ton of calories, barre also builds lean muscle, which can help increase your resting metabolic rate, which can assist with weight loss,” Saunders says.
7. Barre is fun
Beyond building muscle and torching calories, the best workout is one you actually enjoy doing — and because there are so many different barre workouts, you won’t have to worry about falling into a rut or losing interest before you see results.
“A good barre workout uses a combination of ballet, Pilates, cardio, and resistance moves, all at a high-energy pace, to challenge the body in a unique way,” Saunders says. “And there is a variety of barre classes, so you can work on your specific goals.”