Danielle & Tara Talk Barre
Classic ballet movements meet yoga and pilates to form the physically effective, sweat-inducing yet low impact exercise known as "barre." Though it's rise in popularity only recently spiked in the United States after the 2010 film "Black Swan," barre originated in London with professional dancer Lotte Berk during the 1950s.
After fleeing Nazi Germany and settling in London with her husband, Berk continued working as a dancer and model. When she sustained a back injury, she combined her ballet training with physical therapy exercises to create the Lotte Berk Method. She first taught classes from her basement. Among her students were Barbara Streisand and Joan Collins.
Berk's disciple Lydia Bach moved to the United States and opened a Lotte Berk Method studio in New York City in 1971. It was in operation until 2005. From this studio, barre experienced its explosion in popularity as instructors went on to form their own unique forms of Berk's signature workout.
Loved for it's upbeat music and dancer-physique results, barre classes focus on small, pulsing movements with attention to core engagement, posture and anatomical alignment. Targeting muscle groups with isometric contractions while using high repetitions and tiny range of motion leads to shaking and the "barre burn." It's the shaking and burning that leads to muscle fatigue and muscle definition. Stretching between sets facilitates the long, lean tone students crave.
LPS instructors Tara Spaw Fronczek and Danielle Crum brought us Barre & Stretch and Yoga Barre Fusion this summer. With it's popularity, we are excited to bring on new instructors, including Skyler Matthews, Tatiana Lawson and even RYT-200 Tara Morris. Check out upcoming September schedule for class times!
Below, Tara Fronczek and Danielle tell us a bit about their personal experience with barre.
Describe your first Barre class experience as a student.
TF: I was super in shape (or so I thought), and it kicked my butt! It was a great feeling to get such an awesome workout.
DC: It was intimidating. As someone who has danced my entire life, I thought it was going to be a breeze - I was greatly mistaken. It was extremely difficult but fun at the same time. I have never taken a group fitness class that challenged me so much. It was a class that made me think as well as sweat.
Describe your first Barre class experience as an instructor.
TF: It was exciting and overwhelming because the class was packed! Everyone loves Barre.
DC: I could not tell who was more nervous, myself or the students. This type of class was something that was completely new to the area where I was living. The students were surprised because they were actually sweating and getting a cardiovascular exercise. At the end of class I was waiting to hear how terrible it was, but I was surprised by the students’ reactions and how excited they were to come back.
Why would you encourage others to do Barre?
TF: It's a safe, no impact, killer workout that can be modified for any fitness level.
DC: Barre is like no other exercise you can ever do. It is also very playful and allows you to have some fun while getting a full-body workout.
What are your favorite poses or moves from Barre?
TF: I love the ballet based exercises: developé, plié, relevé, etc. It takes me back to all those hours of Ballet classes throughout my life.
DC: My favorite barre exercise is passe’ press. This move allows you to add a cardio aspect to the class as well as some fun. I usually start at 8 on each side and then taper it down to one on each side. It starts as a second position plie’ and you press into a passe’ and back to second position. It can also be done in fourth position.
What is the benefit of combining Barre with yoga?
DC: It's very complementary. The way I set it up is 20 minutes of yoga, 20 minutes of barre, five minutes of abs, 10 minutes of stretching and a five-minute svasana. It's a perfect workout.
We would like to thank Danielle for her wonderful classes and for being a key player in bringing barre to downtown Uniontown. She will be moving on as a traveling nurse and will visit LPS when she returns home periodically.
Tara Morris will take over Danielle's Thursday Yoga Barre Fusion class. Plus, join Tara Spaw Fronczek for Barre & Stretch - check the schedule here. Space is limited, and classes fill fast. Sign up to ensure your spot.