I fell in love with the world of performance arts at a very tender age, and it has stuck with me ever since. Although I had always been focused on being a generally well-rounded performer in all the physical disciplines of musical theater, one moment in particular really sticks out for me. I was at home one typical Saturday afternoon in the sixth grade flipping through channels when a ballet documentary caught my eye. I decided to watch it because I was a dancer, but I did not know how quickly and deeply I would fall in love. I enrolled in ballet classes immediately.
Even though I had a dancing background, when I got there for my first lesson, I was surprised at how hard it was. I also found it to be one of the best workouts I had ever had.
Now, I do it, basically, every day. Ballet is the perfect blend of training each muscle in strength, cardio, flexibility, agility and stability whilst allowing you a creative space to flow, express and connect with your body as a whole. You can torch up to a whopping 500 calories per session.
Fast forward a few years and barre — the “pipe” bar that you hold onto whilst doing floor work for stability, balance and focus — has become a large workout sensation. Some places incorporate yoga and pilates into their routines for an even more intense, yet beneficial, workout.
The great thing about barre and ballet is the way in which you move your body. You have to always be physically conscious in “lengthening” your muscles and keeping good form, which gives you long, lean muscles and great posture. Everything is also very open and extended, giving you flexible, conditioned and protected joints while your muscles use their own bodyweight to work hard to support you and keep form during this low-impact, high-intensity workout jam session.
You do not have to be a dancer to benefit from a barre workout. No matter your gender identity, whether you are an Olympic athlete or never exercised a day in your life, your teacher will tailor the exercises, extensions and intensities to suit your level and still give you a great workout. Make sure to wear something comfortable, but preferably of a tighter fit as it is essential for your instructor to see where and how you are placing the movements in your body. Do not forget a water bottle — trust me — and do not be scared to just go for it and dance because of how it feels to you, no matter how it looks to others.