We’ve partnered with Paige Price, manager and instructor of Neighborhood Barre in Lakeview, and with local artist Hillary Floyd to bring you a fabulous, full-body-toning barre workout — complete with illustrations.
Comparable to physical therapy, yoga, dance or Pilates, barre is a low-impact, full-body exercise that is easy on the joints and will drastically improve posture and core strength. While keeping the core engaged, you’ll target each muscle group with small, controlled isometric movements or muscle contractions, called “sprints” in barre-speak. SB TIP: Check out our “Cheat Sheet to Barre Jargon” at the end of this article to get familiar with the terms you need to know!
“You’re working with isometric movements and muscle contractions that are meant to bring your muscles to fatigue. It is common — and encouraged — that you will shake!” says Paige. “The mind-body connection is very important. During each exercise, visualize the focus area that you are working on, and use those muscles to make small movements, or sprints.”
This sequence tones the whole body, and can be done in 30 minutes, but a typical class with Neighborhood Barre lasts 55 minutes. It’s a great way to dip your toes into the world of barre, a core-strengthening practice that can continually challenge the body and mind, meeting each participant where they are at. Through modifications, you can tailor this workout to meet your body’s needs. And did we mention you don’t need a barre? A chair or counter in the comfort of your own home will do!
Throw on your favorite athleisure threads, grab a chair, and give these barre moves a whirl!
Your Full-Body 30-Minute Barre Workout
Focus area: Inner and outer thigh
Duration: Six 30-second sprints
Starting with your feet in a narrow V — heels together, toes apart — raise your heels to their highest point, re-gluing your heels at the top. Sink your seat down until you feel a catch in your thighs. Work from there.
Shoulders are over your hips, hips are over your heels and spine is straight. Your tailbone is tilted, or tucked, towards the floor, and your ribs are lifted up and away from your waist. Your abs are tight, engaging the core. Keep tension in your inner and outer thigh by maintaining the shape of a diamond with your legs.
Focus area: Biceps and chest
Duration: Two sets of 10
Taking hands wider than the shoulders with the fingers angled in, drop your chest towards the floor with a slow and controlled motion, bringing your elbows to the side. From there, press back to straight arms. After doing 10 of these, hold at your lowest point for 10 counts. Repeat once.
Low crunch + Pilates pump
Focus area: Mid-abs and low abs
Variations: Legs straight at 45 degrees or bent to 90 degrees
Modification: Knees bent with feet pressing against the floor — this will help the lower back stay rounded and keep the work centralized in the abs.
Duration: Up to four 20- to 30-second sprints
Roll all the way down to your back. Reaching your hands by your side, bring your legs to tabletop — 90-degree bend or 45-degree bend — come up to a crunch and pump your arms up and down.
Focus area: Back of leg, mid-seat and outer seat
Variations: Heels lifted, feet wider than hips, feet in parallel
Duration: Six to eight 30-second sprints
Laying flat on your back, bring your legs to a bend. Engage your seat, lifting your hips until you feel a catch in your seat. Keep your hips tucked to protect your lower back and lift by flexing the muscles in the back of your legs.
Hands and knees
Focus area: Ledge of seat and hamstring
Variations: Straight leg (flexed or pointed toe), 90 degree bend in knee, 45 degree bend in knee
Duration: Five 30-second sprints per side
Bring your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Both hips should be facing the floor. Draw your belly in and tuck your hips under. Pull your heel in, bending through the working leg and lift, engaging the seat. You will notice that your knee is closer to the floor than the hips because your hips are tucked under.
Classic barre crunch
Focus area: Upper abs and mid-abs
Variations: Arms loosely gripping thighs or straight out front
Duration: Up to two minutes with 20- to 30-second sprints
Bring your feet around front and line them up with your hips, and round your lower back down until you feel a catch in your abs. You’ll notice a C-curve in your belly. Be sure to keep your belly button drawn in tight. Think about tucking the hips under in order to feel the abs engage. Shoulders should be back and pressed away from the ears.
Tricep dips or reverse push-ups
Focus area: Triceps
Variations: Full range dip, one inch dip
Modifications: Keep your seat on the floor and put your weight in your hands as you bend your elbows to their deepest point and push back up.
Duration: Approximately one minute
Bring elbows straight back and keeping seat close to your hands. Think about squeezing your elbows close together, engaging the back of your arms as you lower yourself down and then back up.
Focus area: Top of thigh and inner thigh
Variations: Heels lifted or feet flat
Duration: Up to six 30-second sprints
Bring your feet out wider than your shoulders and angle your toes out, allowing your knees to press open. Sink down trying to get a 90-degree bend in your knees. Open your chest, rolling your shoulders back. Use your core to lift your ribs up and away from your waist.
Lower body curls
Focus area: Lower abs
Modification: Bent knees, hands under tailbone
Laying flat on your back, take your arms to the side and your feet directly above your hips. With each exhale, use your lower abs to lift your tailbone off the floor without momentum. This should feel like you’re pulling up a tight pair of jeans. Repeat 30 times.
Focus area: Inner thighs and back
Bringing your legs into a straddle stretch, drop your right arm to your inner thigh and reach your left arm up and over. Try to open your chest to the ceiling and reach long through your fingers, releasing your left side. Keep your toes pointed and knees facing the ceiling. Repeat on the other side.
Walk hands in front of you, keeping a flat back and your abs pulled in. Slowly bring your hands further away from your body.
Seated forward fold
Focus area: Hamstrings and lower back
Modifications: Bend through your knees if your hamstrings feel tight. Slowly breathe into the stretch as you reach further, exhaling.
Extend your legs straight out front with flexed feet. Inhale your arms overhead and exhale as you hinge forward, reaching for your shins, ankles, or heels and keeping your back as flat as possible.
Barre Jargon Cheat Sheet
There are particular types of sprints — or isometric movements and muscle contractions — used in each exercise. In a barre class, you’ll hear words like “tuck” and “drop” or phrases like “drop two inches, tuck twice” and “drop, tuck, up, tuck.” Don’t fret. Here’s the skinny on what those words and phrases actually mean.
Tilting the tailbone down while pulling abs in and lifting rib cage — think of it as flattening the spine and eliminating an arch in the lower back.
Down one inch, up one inch
Using your muscles to move your body with the muscles you are working
Moving lower and lower, deepening the muscular contraction, or sprint
Circle (and reverse directions)
Making tiny, dime-sized circles with the muscle you are working, engaging that muscle to make small movements
Make sure to drink your water because we’re betting you’ve been shaking like a leaf with this challenging full-body workout! Way to go!
Thank you to artist Hillary Floyd or her lovely illustrations of these barre moves! To view her fabulously creative art, visit hillaryfloyd.bigcartel.com.
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