The Ballerina Workout: Fit Check

Want a body like Natalie Portman a la Black Swan? With the barre workout, you’re halfway there.

By: Melissa Romero

The barre workout mixes ballet movements with Pilates and other dance exercises, putting a modern twist on the frilly pink tutu. It works the whole body, from your quads, glutes, and core, all the way to your shoulders. Your legs are sure to shake after ten minutes of pliés.

Not a dancer? Not a problem, says Amber Yancey, a fitness instructor at Crunch-Chevy Chase and dancer by trade. “I’ve taught a full range,” says Yancey, who teaches Crunch’s Barre Assets class. “People who love to watch dance but aren’t necessarily dancers. People who are coming back from an injury and want to strengthen their feet—you name it.”

The barre workout joins the ranks of other dance crazes like Zumba that have hit the fitness world in recent years. No barre workout is the same—many gyms even have their own trademark class—since instructors have the liberty to draw up their own classes based on their training in various forms of jazz, ballet, and hip-hop. People love the barre workout, Yancey says, because during the class they don’t realize they’re engaging in a full-body, cardiovascular workout. “You let go of some inhibitions and enjoy the movements,” Yancey says.

Crunch-Chevy Chase doesn't currently offer its barre assets class, but lucky for you we made a 20-minute barre workout video with Yancey that you can follow along. So clear out the biggest space you have in your home, turn up the music, and start dancing.

Yancey’s Barre Assets workout is broken into five stages.
1. Warm-up: A mix of arm reaches, leg exercises, and stretches to get your heart rate going.
2. Floor work: This involves exercises that work the core while standing at ballet barre. If you don’t have a barre at hand, you can use the back of a tall sofa or chair. Or, stand with your arms raised at your sides and shoulders back.
3. Across the floor: Just like a regular ballet class, these exercises use both sides of the body and involve walking, leaping, and jumping across the floor.
4. Combination: Take some of the exercises that you did in the warm-up, floor work, and across the floor sections, and apply them to your combination.
5. Mat work: Lie on your back on a mat for this section, which involves various Pilates exercises. Mat work strengthens your inner thighs, abs, and arms.

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