The Cardio Barre Method for Beginners

The Barre Method is a form of physical exercise incorporating movements obtained from ballet. These dance movements and positions are combined with those gathered from dance, yoga, and pilates.

The Barre Method Advantages

  • All of the Results / None of the Stress. Cardio Barre Method gives you defined, lean muscles and great cardio workout without creating potentially damaging stress on your joints, unlike higher impact activities like running and jumping.
  • Benefits the Entire Body. Cardio Barre Method works out every muscle from head to toe. Plies help sculpt your legs and booty. Having to balance up on your toes creates beautiful, toned calves. Using miniature weights transforms your upper body, from arms, back, and shoulders. And every aspect of this workout helps create a strong and toned core.
  • Gain Fantastic Posture. Cardio Barre Method teaches you to stand tall, tuck in your stomach and maintain your shoulders back, all of which become part of your physicality. Learning these behaviors will change your posture completely, throughout the rest of your life when you’re not even in class.
  • Become More Flexible. Throughout the class, students will repeatedly bend, reach, stretch and lengthen their body. The focus is on getting your muscles to lean out, become longer and more flexible.
  • Transform Your Body by Transforming How You Exercise. If you want to see results, you have to give your body different challenges. It’s not possible to keep doing the same exercises every day and see different results.
    If you want to see change, you have to change what you’re doing. Including barre in your weekly workouts will give you an exercise that’s safe, lower-impact but still very effective even though it’s so different from traditional cardio or weight training.

Now that you know why it’s a fantastic workout, learn some more about starting on a beginner cardio barre method workout program and how it can achieve these incredible results.

Raising the Barre - The Cardio Barre Method for Beginners

Barre Definition

The Barre Method is a form of physical exercise, usually conducted in group classes in gyms or specialty studios. It is distinguished from other group fitness activities by its use of the ballet barre and its incorporation of movements derived from ballet.

These classical dance movements and positions are combined with those drawn from yoga and pilates. Other equipment is sometimes used in addition to the barre, such as resistance bands, and hand weights. Cardio Barre Method classes typically focus on small, pulsing movements with emphasis on form, alignment and core engagement.

Areas The Barre Method Targets

Core:< Yes. You’ll do a combination of ballet positions and Pilates moves to target the abs.

Arms: Yes. Classes include exercises like military presses, lateral arm raises, and triceps lifts to work the arm muscles.

Legs: Yes. Expect to perform movements like pliés, dégagé, leg lifts/extensions, and other ballet-inspired moves that target the legs.

Glutes: Yes. Targeted moves like glute-raises help tone the backside.

Back: No. Ballet-inspired workouts target the whole body but do not target the back muscles, except for those that are part of your core.

Type of Exercise

Flexibility: Yes. This ballet-inspired workout will gently improve your flexibility.

Aerobic: Depends. The barre moves are too slow to give you an aerobic workout. So unless you’re in a class that includes exercises of the barre that gets your heart rate going, don’t count this as cardio.

Strength: Yes. Some ballet and barre classes use weights and resistance bands, and others use your body weight to strengthen and tone.

Sport: No. It’s not a sport.

Low-Impact: Yes. There is no jumping or bouncing in barre classes, so the workout is easy on the joints.


Discover the Wonder of the Cardio Barre Method

Learn about what your first class may be like and also why students enjoy barre method so much.


Cardio Barre is similar to yoga in that it’s considered a specialty class with a specially trained instructor. This can come at a price and classes tend to be around $20.

There are ways to pay less such as offers for beginners, discounts for having attended a set number of classes or you may even get the first class free. It’s also common for studios to offer unlimited classes if you pay a monthly subscription in order to take as many classes as you want.

You may also want to consider cardio barre classes offered on videos online but going into the class in person to learn the correct form before embarking on an at-home practice is definitely ideal. Without proper technique, you simply can’t get the maximum results and you may even hurt yourself.

Invest in your body and your safety by doing things the right way.

Dressing for Cardio Barre Method

In order to properly correct your form, the instructor needs to be able to really see your body and make sure you are doing the moves the right way. To benefit from the classes as much as possible, wear tighter clothes that show your form well.

A loose t-shirt or baggy pants would not work. As for your feet, barre classes are generally done with bare feet, or students may wear socks in studios that have carpeting.

If you prefer not to work out in bare feet because you’re not comfortable or your feet feel too sensitive, you have the option of wearing special gripped socks or ballet flats. The benefits of doing barre with bare feet are many, such as giving you a better foundation to help with balancing and flowing in and out of the moves.

Try to go to your first class in just bare feet and talk to your instructor for advice on the best way forward in her class.

Get There Early

When you’re embarking on a beginner cardio barre method workout program, try to get to your class 10 minutes before it begins to introduce yourself to your instructor. Tell her you are new to barre and see if she has any recommendations.

You should also let her know if you have any issues to consider, like an injury or being pregnant. She will then have the opportunity to show you any useful modifications, either before the class or during.

In my classes, I like to ask if there are any new students so I can position them at the barre in a place where they can have a direct line of sight to either me or an advanced student. If this doesn’t happen in your class, try to find a spot in the center of the bar so that you will have the ability to look around you throughout the class and get guidance from the students on either side.

The Tools of Cardio Barre Method

Barre classes are meant to target the entire body. Your legs and bum will get plenty of sculpting from the ballet moves (plies and curtsies) integrated into the program.

If you have correct form, you should always be engaging your core, and it’s very common for the classes to have a component for targeting the upper body as well. There may be moves that include a soft, small ball and it’s very common to use a floor mat as well.

Upper body workouts include movements with small hand weights, and the technique is to train your muscles with this low weight by doing several repetitions over and over again. Start with three to five-pound weights and be mindful of how your body feels and the guidance of your instructor. You can choose to not use the weights if it becomes too challenging but definitely try to incorporate the weights if possible.

The height of the barre can vary. There are some common guidelines but I have seen studios with installed barres of different heights and there are even portable barres that can be adjusted. I suggest taller students use the taller barres and shorter students will be better off with shorter barres.


Just Go With It

My classes begin with warming up, followed by some upper body moves, and then we begin to work at the barre. When we finish the barre component, we go to the floor mats and do core-centric exercises.

The barre portion is divided into different sections like flexibility, isometric, lying on your side or facing the front while focusing on different muscles and types of motion. Some basic guidelines you should understand the correct technique and flow while working at the barre.

Controlling your Core

Much like in Pilates, make sure your core is always engaged while at a barre class. This means squeezing in your belly button to tighten the muscles of your core, but without holding in your breath or bringing your shoulders up.

Throughout the class, when you are asked to put your hands on your hip, use that as a reminder to feel your core engaged and locked in. And when you have to put your arms open to the side, get into the habit of holding in your frame and rising up with great posture.

Lengthen the Body

Cardio Barre Method is designed around the techniques of dance which means that after contracting a muscle you will usually follow by lengthening it. This lengthening is key to getting great results, it’s just as important as the squeezing and engaging your muscles, so it’s important to really maximize the extension of these movements to elongate the muscles.

Be Mindful of Your Eyes

The direction of your eyes will also guide your body so if you’re looking down at the floor, you may find yourself losing your core control. While you’re at the barre, it’s a good idea to look straight in front of you and keep your chin up to help keep the correct posture.

Shift your eyes in the direction where your body should be. This rule of thumb can help you maintain correct posture and is useful to make sure you don’t put too much stress on your back or any other part of your body.

Comparing Plies and Squats

Squats are not featured in barre classes nearly as often as plies but they do appear and it’s helpful to know the right technique for either one.

When you squat, your feet are parallel and about a shoulder-width apart. You then move as if you are sitting down in a chair while bending slightly forward at the hips.

A plie is different because your feet are turned out and the stance is somewhat wider. Your booty is tucked in, your spine is straight and you are directing your pelvis to the floor downward. You can think of it like sliding down a wall, which will help you avoid dipping your chest forward. Plies can really help with toning your thighs and they also help with improving your posture and controlling your core.

Do Lots of Straightening and Pointing

When you create tension in your legs by straightening your knees and pointing your toe is an incredible workout for all the muscles in your leg. The class includes repetition of kicking out while not bending your knee or slipping out of the form and this results in very toned legs. Get the most of this exercise by locking in that knee.

Feel the Burn While Pulsing

The barre movements will include sets that are in a full range of motion, the count may be slow or there may be single counts and it’s common to finish the move with several quick pulses right at the peak of the movement.

For example, when you lift and lower your leg in that correct, straight form, the instructor will ask you to maintain your leg up at an isometric hold or to do a repetition of pulses. You will really feel the burn at this point and it’s how you finish off that particular exercise.

Get the optimal results by holding that engaged form while you pulse and keep your range of motion tight. It burns but you can handle it for a short time and it’s going to do wonders for you.

Use the Correct Form

The best advice I can give for being successful in a beginner cardio barre workout program is to really do your best to use the proper form. Use the correct form every single time!

It’s so important to really be mindful of what your instructor is guiding you to do and try to get it right. If you’re not quite there yet, your instructor will probably come over and adjust you.

Don’t feel bad about this, remember that it’s normal and that you are paying good money for personalized instruction. When she comes over, continue doing a movement so that she can help with corrections.

She may know just the thing to help you get the most out of that move. Try to follow her advice as closely as possible.

These small corrections can make a huge difference in whether you are helping your body tone and strengthen or putting unnecessary pressure that can be harmful. If there’s a move you don’t understand, reach out to your instructor for advice on how to improve.

Go to Different Classes

If you’re lucky, you will love your very first barre class. And I hope so! But it’s a good idea to attend different classes to see what’s out there.

It may be that a more dance-focused class will be the best fit for you or you may be happier in a class with more of a cardio element. There are so many different styles for classes and instructors.

The class should also be dynamic and introduce different challenges. If you’re always doing the very same routine, you won’t benefit as much and should consider attending a different class.

Keep it up

If you find a class you enjoy, allow yourself to really see what barre can do for you. I explain to my own classes that they will get the best results from doing the workout at least two or three times.

If you are maintaining correct form and maximizing each move you will be able to see results within six weeks. It’s one of my favorite things about being a cardio barre instructor.

The moves are efficient and it’s great to see my students getting results right away. The change may not be reflected on the scale but they will see how much stronger they are when doing the movements.

They do also begin to see changes in their body. Students who couldn’t sustain their leg up for a whole repetition without taking a break are amazed when they begin to get through the whole series.

I hear them say how impressed they are with the lengthening and tightening they can see all over your body, from toned legs to butts that are suddenly higher.

Enjoy Yourself!

Come to class with a smile because you know you are helping your body and every class should be joyful with all the cool things you are doing. I always want my classes to be a lot of fun and I really push them to just enjoy the music and get the most of each move.

My classes are a community, we laugh and groan and enjoy each other. If your class is not fun, definitely move on to one that does give you that joy.

And that’s all! Now it’s up to you to find a beginner cardio barre method workout program that will give you wonderful results.

A helpful article by WebMD: Can the Barre Workout Give You a Dancer’s Body?


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