If the last time you stepped up to a ballet barre was when you were five years old (or, you know, never), your first barre class can be kind of intimidating. Not only does everyone else seem to know exactly what they’re doing, but then there’s all the lingo: Small “V”? Water ski? Hairpin? Help!
You’ve got it, in the form of Kim D’Agnese, a master trainer at Physique 57—the barre class beloved by the fashion set—and her cheat sheet of five basic barre moves that you’ll encounter during your first class—and pretty much every class after.
“Doing a barre workout is a completely different beast than other exercise classes,” says D’Agnese, who also has a video for beginners. “These moves are a great example of what you’ll find in barre routine.”
So if you master them, you’ll have a (pulsing, toned) leg up on their many variations. You might even fool your instructor into thinking you’ve done it before. —Molly Gallagher
(Photos: Molly Gallagher for Well+Good)
Begin in a full-form push-up position with your legs slightly apart. Soften your elbows slightly and pull in your abdominal muscles to keep your hips in line with the rest of your body. Lift your right leg off the floor. While keeping it straight and your toes pointed, pulse it towards the ceiling in a small, controlled movement. Continue pulsing at a good pace. Switch sides.
Stand with one arm about a forearm’s distance away from the barre (or piece of furniture). Placing a playground ball between your thighs, make a small “V” with your feet by bringing your heels together. Your big toes should be 2–3 inches apart. Keeping your heels together, raise them a couple of inches off the floor. Keep your spine straight and make sure you can feel all ten toes evenly pressing into the floor. Now bend your knees and lower your body until you feel your thigh muscles engage, about 5–6 inches down. Pulse down from there, keeping your torso upright and allowing your knees to track forward over your toes.
Facing the barre (or your dining room chair), stand about a forearm’s distance away and hold onto it with your hands a bit wider than shoulder width apart. Elbows should be slightly bent. Lean your chest forward towards your hands and bend both knees slightly. Bring your right heel up towards your right glute and point your toes. Bring your right leg back so that your knee is facing the floor. Tip your tailbone slightly forward and engage your abs. Keeping your working thigh behind your standing leg, pulse your right foot towards the ceiling, engaging your glutes and hamstrings.
Lie down on the right side of your body and extend your right arm under your head. Swing your legs straight in front of you to make a capital letter “L”. Keep your toes pointed. Keeping your hips stacked, press your left palm into the floor in front of your navel and engage the obliques. Separate your inner thighs, lift the top left leg, and extend it so it’s in line with your hip. Pulse in small lifts towards the ceiling.
Sit against the edge of a cushion or rolled up towel with knees bent at 90 degree angles in front of you and your feet flat on the floor. Place a playground ball between your inner thighs. Bring both hands to your right outer thigh and hold on gently, twisting your upper body to the side but keeping your hips and knees centered. Roll your torso towards the ground until your right shoulder blade hovers just off the cushion. Maintain a concave feeling in your core during this exercise—pull your navel in towards your spine at all times. Keep your right shoulder blade off the ground as you release one or both hands to the side diagonally in front of you towards the right. Lift your torso up an inch, then bring it back down.