Whether you’re like Mindy Kaling and pretend you’re Natalie Portman in Black Swan during each barre class or just like to pirouette across an open floor any chance you get, we’re all living out our woulda’ shoulda’ coulda’ dancing aspirations in some way shape or form. Whether Flashdance, Fame or Centerstage is to blame for your bunhead fixation, we recently met up with barre goddess, Lauren Weisman to put all those legwarmer-scrunching inclinations to good use! Lauren’s series of five classic ballet moves will not only give you the results you know to expect from a great barre class, but they’ll give you those dreamy moments of ballet studio bliss.
Throw your hair in a bun, rock a great leotard and get in a good stretch. We’ve added a few modifications for newbies, but Lauren’s moves are meant to be challenging and will get you in prima ballerina mode stat. Here’s Lauren…
The Chalkboard Mag:Lauren, you’re one of our favorite barre teachers at Exhale. We love barre for that ballerina vibe, what are Core Fusion Barre classes specifically designed for?
Lauren Weisman: It’s pretty simple: barre classes create sexy bodies. I joke with my friends that our classes put everything where it should be – your butt lifts and narrows, your waistline tightens, your legs firm and lengthen, and your arms and back take on that etched physique that makes you want to wear a tank top or backless dress. Barre classes at Exhale are a little different, with Core Fusion Barre you work in intervals so you receive the calorie and fat burning and endorphin-creating energy that fuels you for your day. The classes are quite mindful (they all come back to breath work, finding gratitude and pride in your work) and we focus a lot on education and body mechanics, as well as flow (we move you seamlessly and constantly to a pretty great playlist). Anyone willing to work will feel and see changes after committing to this technique.
TCM: Barre can be intimidating to some. I suppose our gorgeous shots of you in standing splits may not help the cause! But barre is for everyone. What advice would you give beginners?
LW: Core Fusion Barre classes are super approachable for students at any level. As teachers, we undergo extensive training to be prepared to handle preexisting limitations or injuries. I encourage my students to take breaks when they need to, to honor wherever they might be when they enter my classroom. Take that to heart when you try the positions below. It takes time to be able to do the standing splits if you’re just beginning – stretch well, reference our modifications and find what works for you now. It takes time and commitment to get to some of these full extensions. Remember to be good to yourself and give yourself time. Our co-founder Fred DeVito who trained me in NYC, says, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” Have fun with barre, honor where you are today and enjoy the journey to that sculpted ballet body – I’ve seen so many students go through the process!
Here are five classically ballet-inspired positions that will help to tone, firm and elongate your muscles to get you on your bunhead way…
We use parallel-position (parallel feet together with heels high on profile) exercises to tone your quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors, gluteals and calf muscles. Your muscular density increases while your total body-fat percentage decreases.
We use second-position exercises to strengthen and elongate your quadriceps, tone your gluteals and inner and outer thighs. You increase muscle density in your largest muscle group, which increases your body’s capacity for calorie usage!
Water-ski position (under the barre – heels high in a turned out narrow V) is another excellent quadricep toning exercise. Your thighs, gluteals, calves, adductors and abductors, as well as your whole anterior core, receive a great challenge in this position.
Fold-over gluteal work, with either extended or bent knee, is amazing for seeing quick results! You lift and tone your gluteus maximus (your muscle in the base of your seat) and your gluteus medius and minimus (your narrowing muscles through your side seat) doing a variety of different exercises. Your entire core stabilizes you here so you will also feel some great abdominal and back strengthening.
Standing split stretches your posterior extensor group – your hamstrings, calves and gluteals. It is great for increasing flexibility and toning your seat simultaneously.