If you’ve read or know anything about me, you’ll know I’m a *bit* barre obsessed. But before we talk about one of my favorite pastimes, let’s get a few things straight.
Barre is pronounced [bär] and references the horizontal bar in dance studios that ballerinas use for support during exercises and stretching. The word is French, so just roll with it (and no you don’t have to be a ballerina – or even a coordinated individual – to touch it).
Barre as an exercise is a “full-body workout with light weights, planks, pushups, squats and ab work paired with ballet-inspired moves to sculpt the arms, lean the legs, chisel the abs and lift the butt” (Exhale Spa). Again, you don’t need to be a ballerina to attend a barre class; you just have to be willing to put in some work. You will sweat, you will shake, you will burn, and you WILL sculpt! Different barre studios offer classes with a plethora of emphases, many including options for infusing cardio and yoga into your workout.
But back to me.
My barre experience started almost a year ago, when the Central Valley’s only boutique barre studio opened up in the town where I live. Having a semi-extensive dance background (dancing in-studio for seven years and choreographing for countless years after) and hating the idea of traditional workouts, I went to my first class on the studio’s opening day and have never looked back.
This is a picture of me and my lady friends after that first class. My insta caption read “We barre-ly made it through our first barre class” – yes, I’m so punny. I know.
This is a picture of me 50 classes later. You can see that I’m super happy, looking more toned, but not quite pregnant yet.
Here were are at 100 classes into my barre obsession. At this point I was about 2 months pregnant and feeling unstoppable… but would that last? Ha!
Fast forward to today. I am 8 months pregnant and am still making it to the barre. Most days I wish it were the bar, but hey, I’m still going!
I don’t go HAM like I used to and I modify the moves as needed (see a detailed list below), but I enjoy being able to maintain a bit of my sanity by dedicating each one-hour workout to myself – completely outside of real life responsibilities. On average I’m in-studio two-three times per week, but that fluctuates depending on how much “life” happens during the week.
All that being said, I can confidently say that barre has been extremely helpful in motivating me to keep moving during this pregnancy. The only downside is that SO MANY people ask me if it’s “smart” to keep working out in my third trimester.
So, here’s some research to appease the worriers (aka VIRGOS) in my life:
Pure Barre’s website says barre “can help you keep your legs, seat, hips, and arms toned without any impact, as well as keep things moving and circulating and provide you some peace of mind” during pregnancy. Similarly, BarreBody’s website says “Barre Body classes are a fantastic way to prepare for labour (fitness + strong legs & glutes are a big help during the contractions and active labour) and keep your body toned, making it much easier to regain your shape after bub is born.”
BarreBody does add the disclaimer that taking the first trimester off (or at least extremely EASY), is suggested. *That might be something for new barre babes to think about.*
Overall, sounds pretty good – right?
But of course barre websites will promote continuing workouts during pregnancy – it would be silly not to!
So to add in some facts from everyone’s favorite WhattoExpect, the verdict concludes that “[Being] a low-impact, high-intensity exercise, barre can be a safe and efficient way to stay in shape throughout your pregnancy.” The article (referenced below) goes on to share some of the modifications you can do at different stages of pregnancy to keep you and baby safe:
- Get your doctor’s approval
- Drink plenty of water
- Make sure your instructor knows you are pregnant
- Avoid lying flat on your back after the first trimester
- Keep breathing!
- Don’t overstretch
- Avoid cobra/bow pose
- Don’t use the stall barre (you’ll know it when you see it)
- Use props, if needed
- Keep your feet/legs parallel if you are experiencing sciatica
- Keep one foot on the floor during the abs section (WhattoExpect)
Pretty much, don’t do anything that seems stupid or hurts. DUH!
So, long story short – in regards to other exercises you could be doing, barre is a safe and smart option for moms-to-be because the risk of falling and overexertion is low – meaning little risk for you and your bump. Talk to your doctor to make sure all is fine and if they give the all clear try to hit the barre a few times a week to maintain your stamina, muscle tone, and barre booty.
As an additional resource, BarreBody’s website includes a great video for women who are interested in starting or continuing barre during pregnancy. Check it out for more info by visiting BarreBody Pregnancy Video
And, lastly, to join my local studio and become a member of the fine BARRE TRIBE that we have become, check out Barre Defined at Barre Defined – Home
Exhale Spa: https://www.exhalespa.com/fitness-classes/barre
Barre Defined: http://www.barredefinedturlock.com/