Why health & wellness guru Dr. Sara Gottfried gives barre an A+

This Technique Tuesday I’m letting a doctor explain why barre workouts are good for your body and booty! Dr. Sara Gottfried is a well known health and wellness blogger, Harvard-trained MD with 20+ years of experience, and author of the New York Times bestselling books, The Hormone Cure and The Hormone Reset Diet. She recently decided to give grades to different forms of exercise for women to explain if and why she thinks they are good for women’s bodies and which personality types different exercises are best suited for. She started her series with barre and gave it a raving A+ (as a new barre-believer herself)!

I love this article because it explains everything I try to convey to newbies before their first class: barre is a low impact workout, but you will feel the burn; anyone can do barre regardless of age or fitness level because you can take class at your own pace; it takes a few classes to figure out and feel comfortable in the positions; when barre exercises are done properly – and consistently – they create long, lean muscles and a dancer’s toned figure!

Whether you are about to try your first class or are a regular looking to scientifically back up why you love class so much to your friends and family, check out her article: Dr. Sara Grades Different Forms of Exercise for Women: Barre Fitness Gets an “A+”.

Here are some of my favorite points in the piece:

  • This total body workout focused on simultaneously lengthening and strengthening muscles, while providing a high intensity (but low impact) workout has served many of my fitness needs to strengthen (without bulking), build cardiovascular endurance, improve posture and lose weight.

  • While there have been several variations on the theme the general idea is the same; that is to draw on the knowledge of physical therapists and the modalities of dance to lengthen and strengthen muscles in a low impact manner that maximizes muscle endurance and strength while minimizing injury.

  • Barre fitness is my star student and gets 100 out of 100 on my grading scale. And it’s not just the outward appearance (can you say body-by-barre?) that puts barre fitness heads above the rest (although better posture-which makes you taller-is definitely a benefit), it’s actually good for you too! (And she goes on to explain why…)

  • Many newbies who first begin barre fitness are surprised (and often alarmed) to find their legs shaking uncontrollably as they perform their fiftieth plié. While potentially embarrassing, there is a very good explanation for why your legs tremble so ferociously and moreover, it’s a good thing.

  • With time and practice (yes, that means more barre, more often), your body adapts to the challenges. Your muscles fibers become larger and stronger, and your nervous system more efficient. You will begin to notice less burning and trembling and will instead power through with no problems, and need a further challenge to reach the state of fatigue. So the next time you find yourself in a barre fitness class barely able to stand, remember that this too shall pass, and you soon become one of those laughing, joyous barre-lievers who are trembling for more.

    • This is so key! If you take class once a week, getting over this hump will take longer. Increase the number of classes a week to 3+ and you’ll start getting over the shaking and start seeing the difference in your leg muscles – during the exercise and in short shorts!

  • Perhaps best of all, barre is suitable for all personality types. This is the closest to “one size fits all” as far as I’m concerned. For the bendy yoga types, barre fitness offers lengthening and stability, for the power lifter types, barre fitness offers strengthening and for those Type A’s that never feel satisfied unless they are crawling out the door at the end of a workout, barre fitness offers high intensity too with its hoards of bending, plié-ing, bouncing and pulsing.

  • Whether you are a barre-believer or a babe to barre, my message is the same: barre fitness is one of the best ways to get yourself that lean, toned body wile minimizing your risk of injury.

Michelle Nigro