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The world of cross – training and fitness is vast. One of the fastest growing areas is that of the “barre” class.

As a serious dancer, many of the options out there are silly to me. Most of them claim to have ballet influences however, I’ve definitely taken barre classes where the only ballet influence was the fact that there was a barre attached to the wall.

I’m not going to give you an overview of all barre classes but rather I’m going to share one that I’ve found that speaks to my sensibilities and abilities as a dancer – because it can do the same for you.

As I’m retired from dance and have struggled with pain from my ankle injuries I don’t take ballet classes regularly anymore and even some workouts cause issues for me.

In August, I started teaching and taking Xtend Barre regularly. With Xtend Barre, I’ve seen a steady increase both in my ankle strength and stability as well as increased flexibility and overall body strength. I got my ballerina arms back (there’s even an exercise in the arms section called “black swan arms” – a personal fav.).

xtend barre ballerina

The class starts with a dancey warm up followed by arms, barre – targeting thighs then glutes, Pilates inspired abs and a final push through seat muscles before ending class with a stretch.

Xtend Barre provides a big cardio element, something you don’t get in all barre classes or a ballet class with all the stopping and starting. It’s high energy and provides a really great balance of movement and sculpting.

Instructors use actual ballet terms to take you through class – 1st and 2nd position plies, tendus, battements, port de bras, attitude, passe. And, there’s a focus on alignment – with familiar cues like shoulders over hips, knees tracking over 2nd and 3rd toes, belly button to spine, ribs knitting in – the familiarity is really comforting and you’ll feel right at home.

Check out this related post :   Yoga as Cross Training for Dancers

You’ll likely find a more balletic class with a former dancer and you can read instructor bios right on each studios website to see who you’d like to work with.

Last week I went back to a ballet class for the first time in over 6 months. In the past when I’ve gone to class after being away for that long it felt nearly impossible – even when I was incorporating other exercise or barre classes.

This time, however, I was able to control my breath from all the cardio I had gotten used to. I noticed right away the strength I had from Xtend Barre and my extensions were close to where they were when I was dancing professionally. Even more importantly, my ankle felt awesome throughout the entire class and I was able to jump – I haven’t done that in nearly 3 years!

I wanted to share Xtend Barre with you because it’s on 5 – continents, it’s growing, and I think it’s a great way for dancers to cross train – you’re working your muscles the way you’re supposed to but with a different intensity and energy. It can improve strength, flexibility and stamina.
If you’re in the Burlington, MA area you can come check out my class – I’d be SO thrilled to meet you in person!!

I’d also love to hear your experience with Xtend Barre or another barre class you’ve tried. Share your thoughts in the comments below!

photo: Sydney Rose Photography

A Barre Class that Speaks to Dancers?
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Jess Spinner

Jess is a former professional ballet dancer turned Holistic Health, Nutrition, and Lifestyle Coach for high level dancers. She founded The Whole Dancer in 2015 after identifying a greater need for balance, wellness and support in the dance world. Since The Whole Dancer was founded, Jess has worked with 100's of dancers worldwide at top companies and schools. She has been featured in or written for Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, Pointe Magazine, and Dance Spirit Magazine.

4 thoughts on “A Barre Class that Speaks to Dancers?

  • December 21, 2016 at 2:56 pm
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    Hi thank you so much for this post! I am currently a senior in high school and am a student teacher at my studio. I have been looking for a good way to cross train and have been working in Pilates and various other programs. It is hard to find one, however, that covers all these bases with strength, cardio, and flexibility. I am so excited to try this. Thanks again for this post!

    Reply
    • December 21, 2016 at 7:35 pm
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      Hi Nicole, do try it!! It’s such an awesome workout and truly compliments ballet technique. If you try it please reach out and let me know what you think!!! xo, Jess

      Reply
  • January 8, 2017 at 7:28 pm
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    I teach a barre fitness class (generic, not associated with Xtend Barre or PureBarre or anything). I’ve taken classes from former dancers, as well as non-dancers. The classes taught by the non-dancers make me cringe! Terrible form, leaning on the barre, no cues about placement, etc. I make sure to teach my classes with lots of technique tips and cues, to make sure they’re using the right muscles and proper form, and get them to feel more like dancers. Kind of a simple ballet barre, just with lots of reps and no stopping (and sometimes weights). I start with a short jazz-style warm up, and finish off with abs and stretching.

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    • January 10, 2017 at 6:45 pm
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      Hi Lulu!! Your class sounds super fun! It can be such an awesome workout and I think it’s nice when dancer’s are able to bring their knowledge of body placement into a barre class!! Keep it up and thanks for commenting xoxo Jess

      Reply

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