Barre workouts have been popular for years because of the long, lean muscles they create. Similar to Pilates, barre work stems from a strong core and is low-impact, making it easy on the joints. It also improves your balance, coordination, and flexibility. I’m entering the last month of my pregnancy, and having an at-home barre workout is perfect to keep tone, length, and lift in my muscles without hurting myself. Miami-based fitness expert Jessica Smith has created an at-home barre workout for all of her fitness fans wanting to sculpt, slim, and stretch their bodies. Jessica is famous for her fun and motivational workout videos available online. She was also in the top 10 of Shape Magazine‘s “50 Hottest Female Trainers In America.” Pregnant or not, grab some light hand weights and a sturdy high back chair to get a ballerina-inspired body. Here are some of Jessica’s favorite barre exercises she shared with Shape.
1. Relevé Plié– Lightly hold the back of your chair with both hands. Stand in first position. Your legs will be slightly turned out from your hips, heels together, and toes apart. With straight legs, a tight core and glutes, rise up onto the balls of your feet (relevé.) From this position, bend your knees about halfway (plié), making sure your knees are over your toes. Straighten your legs by squeezing your inner thighs and glutes together and then lower your heels back down. Do 20 reps.
2. Parallel Plié Pulses– Stand facing the back of your chair with your legs in parallel. Rise up onto the balls of your feet and then bend your knees into a deep plié position with your inner thighs glued together. Rise up halfway and then back down again without lowering your heels for one pulse. Do 20 pulses.
3. Arabesque Attitude– Stand in first position. Keep your left hand on the chair as you lift your turned-out right leg straight up behind you and your right arm straight in front of you with the palm down. Keep your chest lifted and your right shoulder blade down your back as you reach forward. Your right foot should be pointed. This is the arabesque position. To do the attitude, bend your right knee without letting the knee drop lower than your foot. At the same time, lift your right arm up above your head with a slightly rounded elbow for third position. Look out to the right past your arm when doing the attitude. Do 20 of these on each side.
4. Reaching Rond De Jambe (circle of the leg)- Stand in first position sideways to the chair, keeping your left hand on the back of the chair. Your right arm should be in third position (above your head with the arm slight rounded). With your toes pointed, sweep your right leg forward, lifting it as high as you can without changing your posture. Carry the right leg out to your side, turning out at your hip. Bring your right arm down to the side to second position at the same time (slightly lower than your shoulder and rounded at the elbow with your palm facing forward). Finish off the circle of the leg by carrying your right leg behind you to arabesque, but this time, lean forward bringing your torso parallel to the ground with your arm back in third position over your head. Keeping your back straight, bring your body upright again and sweep your right leg through first position to lift it back up to the front and repeat. Do 10 rond de jambs on each side.
5. Plié Pulse To Passé– Stay sideways with your left hand on the back of the chair in first position. Bring your right foot forward about one foot, maintaining your turn out. Cross the foot over to the left so that your right heel is in line with your left toes and your right toes are in line with your left heel (fourth position.) With your right arm in second position (out to the side) rise up onto the balls of your feet with your legs straight. Bend your knees to a plié position with the heels lifted. Straighten your left leg as you pop up into a passé position by lifting your right knee up to the side and touching your right pointed toes just outside your left knee. As you go into this passé, your right arm goes up to third position over your head. Keep your abs pulled in to avoid arching your back in this position. Lower your right foot back into fourth position without lowering your heels and bring your arm back to second position. Keep your heels lifted for the entire set and do 20 reps on each side.
6. Rear Fly and Arabesque Lift– Stand with your left hand on the back of the chair and your legs in parallel. Hold a light dumbbell in your right hand. Hinge forward from your hips with a flat back and abs in as you extend your left leg behind you, pointed toes touching the floor. Your right arm will reach straight towards the ground, palm facing in. As you open your right arm to the side to shoulder height, simultaneously lift your left leg behind you up to hip height. Slowly lower your arm and leg. Do 20 reps on each side.
7. Plié Port de Bras (carriage of the arms)- No chair needed for this exercise. Hold a light dumbbell in each hand and stand with your legs in second position. That’s similar to first position with your legs turned out but your feet are now about three feet apart. Bend your knees to get into a deep plié, keeping the knees over your toes, hips under your shoulders, and back straight. With your palms facing up, scoop your arms up in front of your chest just below shoulder height. Open your arms out to the side to second position with the palms still facing up. Bring both arms up over your head to third position, making sure not to let your arms go behind your head. Lower your arms back down to second position with the palms up and then bring them together again in front of your chest. Finish the port de bra by lowering your arms back down to your sides and straightening your legs. Do 20 port de bras.
Have you ever taken a barre workout class? How did you like it?
Also by Crystal: 7 Minute Booty Barre Workout (Video)
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Photo: Jessica Smith via Instagram; Video: Crystal Chin; Music: “Shuffle A Dream” Little Dragon