Barre workouts let you dance your way to fitness

Salt Lake City studio employs the barre method for workouts whose goal is lean muscles.

By Kathy Adams Special To The Tribune

Published May 25th 2012 2:36 pm



The "Glee" workout -- a class inspired by the TV show that includes sing-alongs and choreography -- hasn't made it to Salt Lake City yet.

But one exercise trend that's gaining in popularity is ballet barre, which uses ballet technique to form long, lean muscle rather than bulk.

The workout "effectively isolates, strengthens and shapes all the major muscle groups, while stretching and aligning the muscles," says Carrie Goodwin, owner of The Bar Method studio in Salt Lake City.

The technique emphasizes building proper muscle without impact on the joints, she said.

Ex-dancers will enjoy feeling like they're back in the studio, but depending on the instructor's dance background, that is pretty much where the similarities end. The tendus, plies and battements are a far cry from the memorization and foot articulation required at the barre in a real technique class, but that may come as good news to anyone who's been too intimidated to try these classes.

Kami Kahler has been taking the studio's barre method class since the studio opened early in January 2012. Kahler was a ski instructor for more than 25 years and has the knee problems to prove it. Before attending classes, she hadn't realized that her right leg was much weaker than her left. "Working so specifically on muscle groups identified that weakness, so now I'm learning to work my body more evenly."

Jen Beck Lair said she likes the low-impact nature of the class as well as the stretching. "I run and skate ski -- running is hard on my knees and skate skiing can tighten your muscles, but since I've been taking the class, I find it tones my core and strengthens my leg and abdominal muscles. Stretches between exercises is built into the sequence of the class."

Local studios offers different kinds of classes. Xtend Barre classes are a fast-paced, 55-minute full-body immersion that fuses dance, Pilates and sculpting exercises at the ballet barre. The Bar Method and Pure Barre classes are less of a cardio challenge. The Bar Method has more one-on-one teacher corrections and stretching, and Pure Barre is known for precisely placed isometrics.

University of Utah student Braden Daugh, a senior majoring in parks and recreation with an emphasis in community and sports management, was a competitive swimmer in high school and has shoulder injuries from the long workouts. Now an intern at Bar Method, he said he's quit lifting weights and swimming.

"Since I've done these classes I've seen a difference in my flexibility," he said. "Even after I quit lifting weights, I've stayed toned."

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The "Glee" workout -- a class inspired by the TV show that includes sing-alongs and choreography -- hasn't made it to Salt Lake City yet.

But one exercise trend that's gaining in popularity is ballet barre, which uses ballet technique to form long, lean muscle rather than bulk.

The workout "effectively isolates, strengthens and shapes all the major muscle groups, while stretching and aligning the muscles," says Carrie Goodwin, owner of The Bar Method studio in Salt Lake City.

The technique emphasizes building proper muscle without impact on the joints, she said.

Ex-dancers will enjoy feeling like they're back in the studio, but depending on the instructor's dance background, that is pretty much where the similarities end. The tendus, plies and battements are a far cry from the memorization and foot articulation required at the barre in a real technique class, but that may come as good news to anyone who's been too intimidated to try these classes.

Kami Kahler has been taking the studio's barre method class since the studio opened early in January 2012. Kahler was a ski instructor for more than 25 years and has the knee problems to prove it. Before attending classes, she hadn't realized that her right leg was much weaker than her left. "Working so specifically on muscle groups identified that weakness, so now I'm learning to work my body more evenly."

Jen Beck Lair said she likes the low-impact nature of the class as well as the stretching. "I run and skate ski -- running is hard on my knees and skate skiing can tighten your muscles, but since I've been taking the class, I find it tones my core and strengthens my leg and abdominal muscles. Stretches between exercises is built into the sequence of the class."

Local studios offers different kinds of classes. Xtend Barre classes are a fast-paced, 55-minute full-body immersion that fuses dance, Pilates and sculpting exercises at the ballet barre. The Bar Method and Pure Barre classes are less of a cardio challenge. The Bar Method has more one-on-one teacher corrections and stretching, and Pure Barre is known for precisely placed isometrics.

University of Utah student Braden Daugh, a senior majoring in parks and recreation with an emphasis in community and sports management, was a competitive swimmer in high school and has shoulder injuries from the long workouts. Now an intern at Bar Method, he said he's quit lifting weights and swimming.

"Since I've done these classes I've seen a difference in my flexibility," he said. "Even after I quit lifting weights, I've stayed toned."

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Where to take a ballet barre class

Bar Method • 1057 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City; 801-485-4227.

Karve Studio • 537 W. 550 North, Lindon; 801-785-0414.

Total Body Pilates • 2065 S. 2300 East, Salt Lake City; 801-824-8588.

Xtend Barre SLC • 450 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City; 801-869-2752.