As a group exercise instructor who has spent 7 years in the industry, I tend to have a bit of “exercise ADD” when it comes to group classes. What I mean is that I have a constant need to change up my exercise routine in order to stay interested and engaged in my workouts. I do this by trying as many different types of fitness classes as I can, either in person or online.
Since moving to Hungary this fall, I have been disappointed by the gym and fitness centers available in my town. By far the best class offered is an intense 1 hour TRX and circuit training taught by a no nonsense kind of guy. However, the class participation is capped at 24 and there is always a waiting list to just attend the class. Most of the gym equipment here is outdated, about 20 years old with almost no cable or suspension pulleys in town. So, what’s a fitness fanatic like me to do?
I am no longer teaching live clients (unless you count the 9, 10, and 11 years olds in my P.E. classes!), but I have turned to working with several health coaching and personal training clients online. In the past 2 to 3 years, I have seen a massive shift in the health services market to online options. I think online personal training is a fantastic way to connect busy moms and businesswomen with qualified professionals in order to craft personalized exercise plans with staying power.
I spend hours trying different Youtube videos and compiling the best of them to recommend to my online personal training clients who work out mostly at home. There are lots of incredible trainers providing free content on Youtube in order to gain new clients or promote a specific type of exercise class. There is also a lot of crap on Youtube, and it takes some filtering to find the best, most inspiring, and safety focused exercise videos.
In addition to Youtube, almost every major fitness program now offers an online subscription service. I have done the “free trials” for several of these programs. Clients are always asking me which subscriptions are worth the $15/ month fee… some subscriptions even cost upwards of $50/ month for online access. So, I have decided to review what’s out there and write a review of a different subscription based service each week.
This week’s review is about Barre3 – including what I like and don’t like about the program… Read on to decide if a Barre3 subscription might be for you!
Barre3 incorporates a lot of compound movements (using arms & legs at the same time) which are super effective not only for toning but also raising your heart rate in order to burn some serious calories. Barre classes have begun to focus more on heart rate response recently and this is great news for barre enthusiasts! Simple toning classes just aren’t as effective as classes which lift your heart rate as well… so compound movements help to accomplish this goal without any jumping or high impact; this is perfect for anyone with injuries or who hates jumping.
Another great thing about Barre3 classes is that instructors are not only focused on cuing for form and alignment but also for the mental part of the workout as well. Creating a balanced body is not enough, Barre3 strives also to help you balance your mind by focusing in the moment on your form and on where you should be feeling each move in your body, instead of thinking about the 20 things you need to get done when the video is over. This focused attention on each muscle group helps to up the intensity for your muscles and for your brain.
Barre3 videos typically require light dumbbells, a yoga mat, and a “barre3 core ball”, basically a small blown up exercise ball. However, you can do any of the videos without these props – substitute water bottles for weights or a rolled up towel for a core ball. Most moves do not require any equipment at all, the focus is on functional movements of daily life such as pushing, pulling, rebounding, and stabilizing.
Although there are many things I enjoy and applaud about the Barre3 online videos, there are a few limitations of the program you should know before signing up…
Muscle growth: for some people, this may not be a bad thing. If you are afraid of “bulking up”, but still want to gain some muscle tone, Barre3 is a great choice. However, my strength training goals go past toning to gaining muscle mass. Muscle mass is helpful for things like smacking the tennis ball with power and force. I also happen to like the way larger muscles look. I won’t be throwing 50lbs over my head any time soon, but I do enjoy some shoulder work with 20lb weights… You just will not be offered that type of training in these classes.
Fast twitch muscle fiber recruitment: athletes know that quick responses are generated by fast twitch muscle fibers – whether it is dodging an oncoming player in soccer or changing directions quickly in tennis, you must be able to move quickly. Barre3 movements are very controlled and although they can be speedy, there is little recruitment of fast twitch muscle fibers. For explosive athletic movements, you’ll need to incorporate other types of training.
Combined with other workouts for cardiovascular response and strength training, Barre3 can be an excellent choice for correcting alignment and postural issues, strengthening your core, and strengthening your mind/ body connection. Before you buy the subscription, get familiar with some of my favorite moves here:
- Sumo squat with movement variations
Sumo squats are used in many workout programs, what is different in barre3 is the small pulsing movement at the bottom of the squat, the tiny heel lifts, or the simple act of pushing your knees backward. You might find yourself holding the squat for an extended period of time while moving your arms, forcing your keys and core muscles to work overtime to stabilize you. Practice the alignment, chest up and knees turned out over your toes at an angle!
2. Athletic V with varying ranges of motion
Athletic V requires a crazy amount of strength in your thighs and balance. Your heels must be lifted 2 inches from the floor and pressed together, then you bend your knees into a diamond shape and sink down, keeping your hips over your heels and your chest upright. Whew! It’s a lot to remember – this position is famous for resulting in the “shakes and quakes” famous in barre classes.
3. Narrow seated chair with arm movements and pulses
In this pose, pretend you are about to sit down, sink your hips way back and down. Keep your feet hip distance apart and get ready to stay low while twisting your torso or moving your arms.
4. Lunges at 90/90 with pulses, heel lifts
Many workouts encourage long lunges, where only the front knee is bent to a 90 degree angle, but barre requires both knees to bend to 90 degrees. It is much tougher to balance in this position and you will especially feel the results of this move in your inner and outer thigh muscles.
5. Planks elbow to knee
Planks with small movement variations are present in every class. Planks are one of the best exercises of all time for strengthening everything from your fingers to your toes. Small, controlled movements are often added in Barre3 classes to challenge your abdominal activation and stability.
6. Down dog
One of my favorite stretches is incorporated into every class, helping to lengthen your spine and stretch your hamstrings, this stretch is essential and I love Barre3’s frequent use of it.
And if you’re still not sure if Barre3 is for you, why not try a few of the videos taught by Sadie Lincoln, the founder of barre3, on YouTube? If you like them, go ahead and sign up for the subscription & start utilizing the videos as a part of a balanced at home exercise routine.
45 minute Barre3 Body Burner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zMySjpS6jQ
30 minute Barre3 Standing Slim: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_IUHHdm7-Q
Have you tried Barre3 in studio or online before? What did you think about the class? What did you like and dislike?