Combining ballet with more familiar fitness staples such as Pilates poses, barre workouts use a ballet barre as low-tech, high-impact tool for building muscles, improving posture and balance, and burning fat. If you cringe at the frenetic pace and loud music of a “soul cycle” gym, the simplicity of the barre workout may be just your speed.

How Barre Classes Work

An online search for a barre workout class is sure to uncover a nearby fitness studio with the name “barre” in it, or a gym with a barre workout room. But don’t worry — you won’t be required to stand on tiptoe for an hour, and you certainly don’t have to do any dancing!

In fact, a good portion of the class will be conducted away from the barre, with your instructor taking you through on-the-mat warmups and focused upper body drills. Once at the ballet barre, your core and lower body will be worked, using a series of isometric moves, while you use the barre for balance.

Barre Benefits

Like yoga, barre classes offer both cardio and strength benefits, with posture improvement and greater flexibility thrown in for good measure. Of course, standing with one only one foot on the ground — and the rest of your body contorting into new shapes — is also a great way to achieve greater balance.

During both the mat and barre portions of the class, the isometric movements (inspired not just by the dance world, but from yoga and Pilates as well) will be small and focused. The benefits of these precision position shifts? Muscles are forced to work hard to hold these poses, yet don’t swing so dramatically that they tear, as can happen with push-ups and squats.

What You’ll Need

The minimalist aspect of barre classes is a bonus benefit. Your instructor will either specify socks or bare feet as footwear, depending on the flooring. Sweats or yoga togs complete the ensemble.

As for equipment, the class may use yoga mats, light weights and/or resistance bands. If so, ask ahead of time if they’re provided with the cost of the class. All in all, the odds are good that you won’t have to invest in any gear or clothing for the barre workout.