Trendy Barre Workouts: Giving Ballet a Bad Name?

Is it just me or does it seem like there is a new trendy ballet “barre” inspired workout popping up every day?

When you hear the word “barre” you think ballet. When I first heard about these “barre” workouts I have to say that I was very intrigued. I was even approached by a company here in San Diego to become an instructor since they had read about my background as a professional ballet dancer and fitness expert. Having professional experience in both, I figured I would give it a try. So I went to a few classes.

I assumed that the workout I would be getting would be similar to a ballet barre…Boy did I assume wrong. Don’t let the names fool you, these classes are NOTHING like ballet barre. In fact, they are quite the opposite.

The workouts I got were great, don’t get me wrong here. Just nothing like I had expected going into the class. Most of the exercises that we did involved a forced arch plie on demi pointe which in my experience as both a dancer and fitness expert only promote bulky thighs (which the instructors definitely had! Yikes!) if they are performed over a long period of time. My quadriceps were definitely fired up as I left the class having felt like I did a spin class.

Now please don’t think I’m hating, but as a well experienced professional ballet dancer and personal trainer I am bit critical of the exercise techniques that are using ballet terms to market their products. In fact, I promote a ballet inspired workout to my San Diego personal training clients called Ballet Body Boot Camp© so I am just as much at fault…But the difference is that I use real ballet exercises and I’m a ballet dancer so there’s no false advertising there.

I had a chance to speak with some of the other class participants and it was clear that they were under the impression that they were doing ballet exercises in the class. This is where I have a hard time because I feel that the integrity and interpretation of ballet training is being misrepresented.

Also, please don’t think that I am speaking on behalf of every “barre” method. This review is from two different methods that I tried here in San Diego. Honestly, there are so many out there these days that it would be impossible to review them all. Here is how I sum up my “barre” workout experiences.

Plus: These types of workouts are getting Women to workout and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Minus: They may be using false advertisement, thus compromising the integrity of ballet.

Bottom line: If you want the best “barre” workout take an adult beginner ballet class.

Dancers or former dancer, Have you tried any of the “barre” inspired workouts? If so, what is your take?

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About Nikol Klein

Nikol Klein is former Professional Ballet Dancer turned Women's fitness expert. She currently works with Women all over the world as a personal trainer and Ballet Strength coach to dancers.

Posted on August 3, 2010, in Ballet, Ballet Strength, fitness and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I will admit to being insulted by some of the new ballet inspired workouts that are out today. Even worse is that anyone can get certified having no dance experience. I like that you said take an adult ballet class. So true.

  2. My daughter took a Barre Method class over the summer and was very disappointed. She said it was nothing like ballet.

  3. these barre classes are definitely not for beginners. if you are overweight and out of shape you will feel out of place in the classes. it is a bit like the pilates cult that swept the world 5 years ago.

  4. TutuReal (Marlena)

    I took a class called Extend Barre (I live in San Diego as well) and was extremely disappointed at the instructors lack of form and understanding of anatomy. Perhaps it’s like “Tututhepointe” said – they are making money off of certifying instructors so they will certify anyone. Either way it was painful to watch some of the participants and even worse that the instructor didn’t know how to correct them. Is this where all of the Dolly Dinkle dancers are making a living after High School? LMAO

  5. I’m so glad you wrote this blog post. I took my first “barre” class last night at a local studio in San Diego last night – and while yes, i did “feel the burn” with a lot of the exercises I have to agree with you – nothing we did in class was what I would call ballet. (I studied ballet from ages 6 to 15, and then began studying modern dance). I think there are benefits to be had from the workouts offered at these studios, but I think they are misrepresenting ballet to a terrible degree. I just think we all need to work on getting the word out and maybe these companies will begin to describe their fitness regimes in a more correct way.

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