BarreAmped Boot Camp Review

Get Boot Camp-Level Results With a Barre Class

Barre workouts are everywhere, and while many large-scale gyms still don't offer this ballet-inspired fitness class, boutique-style barre studios have popped up on practically every corner, with barre DVDs and streaming workouts proliferating online.

The thing about barre workouts is that they look deceivingly simple, but are actually quite challenging. Barre routines target muscles in ways most people aren't used to, placing a strong focus on core strength and flexibility—two areas of fitness that are often neglected. And while there's a lot to be gained from participating in barre workouts, they're not the "be all, end all" solution to every fitness woe. 

The truth is, most barre workouts won't raise your heart rate enough to qualify as a form of cardiovascular exercise. And while they're great for muscular endurance, they're not designed to significantly increase muscular strength, especially if that's one of your primary goals—the range of motion used for most exercises is too limited, and the weight lifted is too light to continue seeing significant gains.

That's not to say you can't benefit from incorporating barre workouts into your regular workout routine. Taking a class a few times a week is an excellent way to improve muscular endurance, flexibility, and core strength, but you should plan on doing them in conjunction with other forms of exercise to develop a more well-rounded level of fitness. One other solution is to choose barre workouts, like BarreAmped, that are specifically designed with a more well-rounded approach, aiming to improve other components of fitness, such as cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength 

The BarreAmped DVD Experience

For these reasons I was excited to try the BarreAmped Boot Camp DVD, with the hopes it would increase my heart rate and require more muscle recruitment than a typical barre class. The DVD description wasn't overly detailed, but when a workout uses the phrase "boot camp," I typically assume it means there will be more strength training involved.

Clear Workout Segments

Like most barre DVDs, the class is split into segments—warm-up, arm workout, thigh workout, glute workout, core workout, and stretching. You can perform each segment individually, or you can play the full class back-to-back. This is a nice feature for individuals who are short on time and can only squeeze in one segment.

Focused, Isometric Movements

There's a keen focus on "shaking to change." Essentially, this means many of the exercises are performed isometrically—you move into a designated position, then you stop and hold the position for a period of time. As the muscles become tired, they start shaking, making it difficult to continue to hold the position. These isometrics are typically combined with slow or small changes in position that further "burn out" the muscles at a given range of motion.

Additional Strength Training Exercises

The thing that sets the BarreAmped DVD apart from most barre DVDs is that the creator incorporates more "traditional" strength training exercises, such as a circuit-style series of lunges and squats with subsequent kicks or overhead extensions that use a full range of motion. Aside from working muscle groups through their full range, these circuits are designed to raise the heart rate for short bouts of cardiovascular work. 

After completing the full, 71-minute workout (including the warm-up and stretching segments), I felt spent—I have no doubt I achieved a significant cardio workout in addition to the strengthening benefits of the barre routine.

Workout Pros

  • Tough workout that raises the heart rate and challenges the major muscle groups
  • High-quality demonstration of the exercises by all three instructors
  • Good options for modifications to make each exercise easier or more difficult
  • Easy-to-navigate segments that make the workout customizable based on time

Workout Considerations

  • The class incorporates equipment—a chair and lightweight dumbbells—into the routine. I don't own super lightweight dumbbells, so I grabbed a couple of bottles of water from my fridge to use instead.
  • There were moments when I questioned the instructor's grasp of human musculature. She would say "front of the arm" or "back of the leg" instead of referring to the biceps or hamstrings. I couldn't tell if she was doing this for the benefit of the exercisers, or if she didn't know the names of the muscles. My guess is that she was doing it for the benefit of the exercisers, but I would have preferred she use the DVD as an opportunity to educate her audience, "You'll be working the front of your arm, or your biceps, as you perform this exercise." It may seem like a nit-picky complaint, but it kept throwing me off as I was following along.

The BarreAmped Boot Camp is available in DVD and streaming format on the BarreAmped website. You can also check the site for BarreAmped studios in your area—it's an official class that's offered across the US and around the world. 

By Laura Williams, MSEd, ASCM-CEP
Laura Williams is a fitness expert and advocate with certifications from the American Council on Exercise and the American College of Sports Medicine.