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5 basic barre exercise techniques

Ballet-inspired barre workouts are the latest fitness craze and with good reason – ballet moves tone the entire body, improve posture and increase flexibility. If you’re thinking about hitting your local barre studio or trying a DVD, check out these techniques from Sharrell Brown, M.S., ACSM-HFS, an exercise physiologist at Piedmont Atlanta Fitness Center, for tips on good form and injury prevention.

“Barre combines the principles of yoga, Pilates and ballet,” says Brown. “We use isometric movements to help shape and tone muscles.”

1. Standing

  • Make sure feet are parallel
  • Keep your tailbone tucked and pointed directly toward the floor
  • Engage your abdominals by pulling your belly button toward your spine
  • Roll your shoulders back and down, engaging right between the shoulder blades
  • Make sure your body forms a straight line from the top of the head to the heels of the feet

2. Turnout

  • Keep your heels together while turning out your feet
  • Make sure your legs turn toward the center as well
  • Engage your thighs and glutes
  • Distribute your weight evenly across your feet to protect your knees

3. Placement of your legs and toes

  • Whenever your leg leaves the ground, point your toes and engage the calf, quadriceps and hip flexor

4. Plié

  • Bend at your knees and keep your heels on the floor
  • Engage through the abdominals
  • Pull the tailbone down toward the ground

5. Relevé

  • Use the calves to lift your heels off the floor
  • Before lowering down, make sure you are engaging the inner thighs and glutes
  • Lower your heels back to the ground

“Now you have your basic barre techniques,” says Brown. “Go enjoy your workout.”

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