barre exercise you can (and should!) do at home
Gemma Dawkins is a writer and Barre Body instructor who lives in Sydney. While working as a contemporary dancer and choreographer, she fell into Barre and quickly realised that it would be her next adventure. After immersing herself in the world of barre and pilates she now delivers trainings as part of the Barre Body Teacher Training team, and is Barre Body's marketing coordinator. ‘It’s no secret that exercise is a crucial part of wellbeing – as important for your mental health as it is for your body. There’s nothing exciting or groundbreaking about that. We also know that greens are better for us than guacamole, but I’ll still take Taco Tuesday over Kale kill-me-now-day every time.
Most of us admit that we’d rather get the rosy cheeks from a beautiful blush than a round of burpees. And setting aside the motivation factor (or lack thereof), barriers like cost, access and travel time can quickly conspire to see us skipping the gym in favour of another quiet night in. So, how to find the time and inclination to prioritise working out? Here comes the good news! Bringing your workout to your lounge room is a simple way to cut the excuses and nurture your body, without the scary gym vibes. Barre workouts in particular – aside from being your ticket to toned – are incredibly versatile. Because they’re low-impact and move through a small range of motion, they’re quite safe to do from the comfort of your own home. Whether you’re following an instructor on Barre Body Online or just running through a few simple exercises, you’ll be able to reap the benefits without putting yourself in harm’s way. And, because barre doesn’t require any equipment, you can get started straight away. A kitchen bench, balcony railing or chair back all make excellent makeshift barres, while a yoga mat or even a towel will keep you comfy for your floor-based exercises. If you’re looking to up the ante, add some canned vegetables or wine bottles in place of hand weights, and you get to choose whatever soundtrack you like (no judgement, ok Mariah?)
Here are my top picks for barre exercises to do at home:
Second position plie
◦ If you have a barre or support handy, turn side on and rest one hand on it. If not, pop your hands on your hips.
◦ Step your feet wide apart and turn your thighs out. If the floor were a clock face, your toes would be facing about 10 and 2.
◦ Keeping your shoulders stacked on top of your hips, bend your knees and lower your hips as far as you can without arching your back. Now press up about 2cm and release back down.
◦ Keep repeating this until you start to feel those thighs burning – which won’t take long. To increase the intensity, rise up onto the balls of your feet.
◦ Start by laying on your mat with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart.
◦ Press down through your heels to lift your hips off the mat. You’re aiming for a straight line from your knees, through your hips, to your shoulders, so try not to arch into a backbend.
◦ Lower your hips halfway to the floor then use your glutes to press back up to the top
◦ Make sure your knees stay parallel and your hips don’t touch the ground.
◦ Add some pulses at the top to really get those glutes and hamstrings firing.
◦ Lift your heels as high off the floor as you can (like you’ve got some cute heels on).
◦ Bend your knees to lower your body, trying to keep your shoulders and hips stacked on top of your heels. Don’t let your high heels drop!
◦ Lift 2cm up and then press 2cm down. You’ll find those thighs start to quiver but try to stick with it for a few more reps when they do.
Port de bras arms
◦ You can do this without any weights, or hold some tinned veggies or wine bottles for extra resistance (and a snack for after!)
◦ Reach your arms out to the sides, just below shoulder height. Try to curve your elbows slightly.
◦ Maintain that curve in your arms as you reach them in front of you, like you’re holding a big beach ball. Open back out to the sides.
◦ Now reach your arms overhead to create an oval shape (still keeping your elbows soft) and return to the start position.
◦ You can add some tiny pulses in each position to get your shoulders, biceps and triceps burning. Aim to keep your shoulders away from your ears to avoid neck tension.
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Credit to photographer Bayleigh Vedelago.
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