We’re spelling barre all français on you so you don’t think we’re about to teach you how to drink tequila. Disclaimer aside, ballet inspired workouts are all the rage since Black Swan made a splash in Hollywood.
A barre, if you please, is a stationary handrail that is much sexier than the one you use to brace yourself down the steps on an icy day. It provides balance, support and stability but don’t let it fool you. There is some serious strength behind the sinewy physiques of ballet dancers. Here is what you need to know before you tie your hair in a bun and head out the door:
1. Don’t be afraid of the stretchy people. People may have legs up on the bars prior to class and be keeping in shape for their upcoming performance, but it’s not everyone. It’s easy to focus on the lithe and confident people, but you belong there too. Look at yourself in the mirror, take a deep breath, and voila. A dancer is born.
2. Ask the teacher beforehand what you need. Bare feet are pretty easy to acquire, but some classes are heavy on the props (like weighted balls and resistance bands). Find out the different weights and suggestions so you’re not carrying around a bowling ball while you try to elegantly point your foot.
3. Your first class is not about technique. Try to keep some of the basic principles from other exercise classes (staying focused, keeping knees behind toes, drinking water) but it’s not your prerogative to become a nationally acclaimed dancer. At least after your first class, anyway.
4. Dancers can be serious but you don’t have to be. It’s important for a performer to be on their game, but this is your free time and you can certainly smile as you realize you’re about as graceful as Dumbo. Then keep working at it until your squats get more fluid (because they will) and your confidence shines brighter (because it will).
5. Leotards and leg warmers optional. Even though you may want to get all Olivia Newton John for the class, it’s not necessary. There are a lot of yoga clothes in the room, and a lot of oversized t-shirts. What you already own that allows you to move is absolutely perfect.
Now get your leg in attitude derriere et commence!