Like so many people, the Duchess of Cornwall used video workouts to keep fit during lockdown.

Camilla’s class of choice? Barre; she’s an avid follower of the Silver Swan ballet classes for over 55s. A vice patron of the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), she toured the V&A’s new exhibition celebrating 100 years of the organisation with former Strictly judge Dame Darcey Bussell.

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Camilla said during the visit: “I’ve been completely hooked [to barre]. I love it… We sort of crash about the place.”

The Duchess of Cornwall and Dame Darcey Bussell posing at a barre
The Duchess of Cornwall and Dame Darcey Bussell posing at a barre (Chris Jackson/PA)

Barre classes – either virtual or IRL – can be a bit daunting, and some people might be put off if they don’t consider themselves ‘dancers’. However, barre is the kind of workout everyone can benefit from…

What happens in a barre class?

 

 
 
 
 
 
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If you go into a dedicated barre studio, there will likely be mirrors and a ballet barre attached to the wall. You will “pull off the barre with your own bodyweight to tone, to sculpt, to empower, to gain confidence,” explains Ashley Verma, founder of Define London barre fitness studio.

“With barre, you use light handweights and your own bodyweight – there’s not much more to it,” she says. “You use the ballet barre to pull yourself off, to really get into tiny little muscles that shake, bake and burn – that is a very common thing that happens in barre.”

A trainer will lead you through a series of small, precise movements, and “we get into the nitty gritty, deep down into the muscle fibre so you get that twitch effect,” says Verma. “It switches on those tiny little muscles that really help support the bigger being of the body.”

If you’re at home following a virtual class, you can replicate the barre with a kitchen countertop or chair, and sub in cans or full water bottles for handweights.

What are some of the benefits?

 

 
 
 
 
 
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For many of us, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on our posture; and after four to eight barre classes, Verma says “you will see an absolute lift in your posture”.

Barre is low impact, so your joints are protected and the muscle fibres are strengthened by the targeted movements. “It’s a great counter balance for someone who loves a Hiit workout – a Hiit workout is not going to get into those muscles the way that barre does,” says Verma. “Marathon runners train with barre because it’s a great counter balance, and they need to make sure their knees and their feet stay healthy.”

There’s a big focus on feet in barre: you do classes in socks or barefoot, and “you’re working through your metatarsals”, explains Verma – something often neglected in other workouts when your feet are stuffed into shoes.

Verma also appreciates the confidence and mental boost barre can give you: “It’s empowering, and it really gives longevity within oneself,” she says. She encourages young people to start regular barre classes, as it can help with long-term bone strength.

Ultimately, Verma says: “Barre becomes an addiction – in such a good way.”

Who should try barre?

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Lauren | Barre | NASM CPT (@laurenleavellfitness)

“It really is an overall wonderful workout for every different shape, size and age,” says Verma, who trains teenagers right up to people in their 60s and 70s. It’s the kind of workout you can safely do during pregnancy (although always check with your GP) – Verma herself was doing barre until the day before giving birth – and it’s also “great for injury prevention, and post injury when you’re coming out the other side of surgery,” she says.

You definitely don’t have to have a background in ballet to do a class: “That inner dancer does come out in anyone, and you don’t have to be a dancer,” says Verma.

How hard is it really?

 

 
 
 
 
 
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“Barre is hard!” Verma says with a laugh. “And I don’t think that should scare anyone away. A workout is a workout, you want to hold yourself accountable for doing it, but you want to make it worth your while when you’re doing it.

“With barre there’s so many ways to make it advanced, but there’s so many ways to make it beginner – but beginner challenging.” Yes, it will be tough and your muscles will shake – but you can tailor the workout to your level and experience.

Best-selling ballet barres for home

Stuck for inspiration? Check out our list of best-selling Amazon products!

SaleBestseller No. 1
Artan Balance Ballet Barre Portable for Home or Studio, Freestanding Adjustable Bar for Stretch,...
  • Professional Ballet Barres – This premium ballet bar for kids and adults is made to help enhance your stretching, balance, form, and movements for a variety of activities including ballet, dance,...
  • Quick Adjustable Height – The innovative design lets you easily raise or lower the dance barre height to better suit any height, age, or ability level. Great for beginners and seasoned athletes,...
  • Portable, Lightweight Design – Crafted with durable, power-coated steel tubes that feature a classic woodgrain look, this scratch-resistant frame is easy to use in your home, a garage, a...
Bestseller No. 2
GYMAX Double Ballet Barre with Non-slip Stand, Adjustable Stretching Bars, Freestanding Portable...
  • ✔ PRACTICAL BALLET BAR- Our double ballet bar features great grip, perfect for dance training, stretching, ballet workouts and performing pilates exercises for legs, abdomen, back.
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SaleBestseller No. 3
Z ZELUS Ballet Barre Portable for Home 79cm-152cm, 5ft Double Ballet Bar for Kids, Freestanding...
  • 【ALL AGES AND SIZES】Double barre set up allows for a variety of dance and work-out options. The top bar is fully adjustable from 2.6ft to 5ft from the floor, all with a simple twist of the knob....
  • 【A BARRE TO GROW WITH】Built with heavy-duty use in mind. This 5ft double barre uses durable steel covered brackets coated in an anti-rust/anti-corrosion spray that will never tarnish and withstand...
  • 【Sturdy and stable construction:】Triangular base constructed of heavy-duty steel offers stability and safety unrivaled by other ballet barre's. The feet of the barre comes wrapped in anti-slip...
Bestseller No. 4
BEEMAT Studio Ballet Barre [Each] • Size: 110cm Length • Fully Adjustable • 2020 Design (Sky...
  • A multi adjustable polished steel Beemat Studio Adjustable Ballet Barre ideal for home, studio, school, gym etc. Fully adjustable with easy turn tightening grips from 70cm to 110cm high which makes it...
  • Barre workouts have become very popular in recent years, studio classes use a combination of postures inspired by ballet and other disciplines such as yoga and pilates.
  • The barre is simply used as a prop for balance while doing exercises that isolate isometric strength training (holding your body still while you contract a specific set of muscles) combines with high...
SaleBestseller No. 5
Z ZELUS Portable Ballet Barre for Home Gym | 1.2m Adjustable Gymnastics Bar | Freestanding Exercise...
  • 👯 BUILD FLEXIBILITY & GRACE: For yourself or your favourite dancer, Zelus's double barre set provides a powerful stable base to improve flexibility and muscle tone; barre fitness can include...
  • 👯 ADJUSTABLE HEIGHT: This portable double handrail is fully adjustable from its base to its full 1.2 metre height at the twist of a knob, offering a wide range of angles and letting it grow...
  • 👯 HIGHLY PORTABLE: Only 3 kilograms, this home fitness equipment tears down and sets up easily; with the provided gym bag and stretch band, you can easily enjoy training around your home or your...

Last update on 2021-06-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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