Unless you’ve been living under a rock since the early 2000s, you’ve probably heard someone raving about the benefits of barre workouts. The low-impact workout — originally conceived by a German ballerina in the 1960s — has gained a reputation as an effective way to achieve a lean, strong physique.
While each studio or streaming barre workout may differ slightly in technique, the traditional barre workout uses a ballet barre and light free weights, combined with low-impact, isometric movements. But can you actually lose weight with a barre workout? Here’s what you need to know.
Is Barre Good for Weight Loss?
When it comes to weight loss, there’s not a whole lot of barre-specific research out there. But the idea of working muscles until they are fatigued — which is the basis of a killer barre workout — can be an effective way to build muscle.
Barre’s high-rep sets can help you get stronger, and “muscle is crucial for weight loss,” says Kellie Davis, personal trainer and founder of Fit Thrive. The more muscle you have, Davis explains, the more energy your body uses day to day — and that can contribute to weight loss.
Some barre workouts also bump up the intensity to really get your heart pumping. “We amplify results with a strong cardio component — you will sweat,” says Andrea Rogers, creator of Xtend Barre, which combines traditional mat Pilates methods, ballet barre, and high-energy cardio to sculpt a strong, dancer-like physique. And after an intense barre workout — one where you really push your limits — you may burn additional calories from a process known as the afterburn effect.
Bottom line: A focused strength-training routine is the better bet for fat loss and weight maintenance, because it creates a more sustained increase in metabolism. But a cardio-focused barre workout can help you build muscle and burn calories — plus, if you enjoy it, you’re more likely to stick it out for the long haul.
How Does Barre Fit Into A Workout Schedule?
If you’re just beginning your fitness journey or returning to the world of exercise after a significant break, barre could be a great starting point. “There’s something extremely special about working out with a community and being in a group of women all motivating and empowering each other,” Rogers says. (Not a gym person? Good news — research suggests you can still get the benefits of group exercise via digital tech.)
And doing the same workout every day is never a good idea, so make sure you switch up your barre routine, or follow a workout program that combines barre with strength-training and high-intensity workouts. “If a person takes the same exact barre class week after week, for months or years on end, the effects might get lost,” Davis says. “The more you move in a variety of different ways, the more success you will have along your weight-loss journey.”
Can Barre Help With Weight Management?
If you really love barre, it can be highly effective — whether you’re looking to get your heart pumping, build strength, lose some weight, or all of the above. “The more we love what we are doing, the more likely we will see results from it,” Davis says. Whereas if you sign up for a workout that you absolutely hate just because someone else lost weight doing it, you may not see the same results. Weight management is all about leading a healthy lifestyle, not resorting to fads or quick fixes.
Barre can also be a great option for staying active while dealing with an injury. Because barre is low-impact, it is likely a safer bet than a higher-impact exercise like running or plyo — although to avoid aggravating an injury, you should definitely talk to your doctor before trying any new workout.
Barre can be a great stepping stone to embark on your fitness journey. As long as you challenge yourself — either by upping your weight, trying a more advanced barre workout, or alternating barre classes with other forms of exercise — chances are you’ll see the results you want.
Want to try barre? Check out Xtend Barre for Openfit, a 30-minute cardio mix of Pilates and ballet barre proven to sculpt a lean, strong physique!