Barre Workouts to Do at Home

Barre workouts are designed to give you the lean, flexible, strong body of a dancer. Offered in many gyms and barre studios, each of the dance-based routines can be performed by anyone at any level.

You don't need special ballet shoes or equipment to try a barre workout at home. Simply find a space in your home where you can extend your arms and legs fully. A wood floor or other smooth surface is best as it can be difficult to do on carpeted surfaces. You can use a sturdy chair or countertop for balance, instead of a barre. The workout is typically performed in bare feet. 

Basic Barre Workout Foot Positions

Legs of a ballerina with feet in first position
Image Source / Getty Images

Before you begin your beginner barre workout, you may want to learn a few basic ballet foot positions. You'll do many of the exercises in one of these three positions.

  • First Position: Heels are placed together (pictured above) and legs are rotated out slightly from the hips so that the feet form a "V" position.
  • Second Position: Heels are about hip-distance apart (pictured on the next slide). Legs are rotated out slightly. 
  • Third Position: Start in the first position. Slide the left foot forward slightly so that it lines up with the arch of the right foot (see slide #4). This position can also be reversed so that the right foot slides forward and lines up with the left arch.

Don't worry if your feet don't look exactly like the pictures. Rotate your feet comfortably, but never force them into position. As you get more flexible, your feet will turn out more naturally.

When you first start doing barre workouts at home, you may want to relax your arms down at your sides or hold onto the barre or chair for balance. As you become more comfortable with the movements, do the exercises using basic ballet arm positions. 

Barre Workout Benefits

Legs of ballerinas
Image Source / Getty Images

This first beginning barre workout was designed by Lisa Goldschein, ballet teacher and choreographer for the Performing Arts Magnet at Hollywood High School in Los Angeles, California with more than 25 years of experience teaching barre.

Goldschein uses the dance-inspired workout with new students to help them ​get healthy and strong. This workout is a complete body workout that strengthens your core, tones the body, develops balance, increases flexibility, ​and improves posture and overall confidence.

Basic Barre Workout for Beginners

Ballet dancer's feet in dance studio, close-up
Hans Neleman / Getty Images

For this basic barre workout, use a chair, a barre or a countertop for balance. Try not to grip too hard. Simply place your hand on the surface for a little bit of support.

  1. Plié Pulses: Starting in the first position, bend the knees slightly and gently bounce or pulse in that position. Do 25 pulses in the first position, 25 in second position, 25 pulses in third position with the right foot in front and 25 with the left foot in front.
  2. Développé Leg Lifts: Start in first position. With your weight on the right leg, lift the left toes and trace a line up the right leg to the knee. Now extend the left leg in front of you. Beginners will extend the leg just a few inches off the floor. As you get stronger, you'll be able to extend the leg higher. Hold the leg in the air for a second, then touch the toes to the floor and slide the working foot back to the starting position. Repeat the process extending the leg to the side and then to the back. Repeat the exercise on the other side.
  3. Small Battements: Start in first position. Extend the right leg in front of you with toes pointed and touching the floor. Now quickly lift the leg 2 to 3 inches and then bring the toes back down to lightly touch the floor. Repeat 10 times, quickly lifting and gently lowering the leg. Repeat the sequence extending the leg to the side 10 times and then to the back 10 times. As you get stronger, add a set of grand battements, lifting the leg to hip height each time.
  4. Ballet-Inspired Lunges: Start in first position. Step forward with the left foot into a lunge position. Straighten both legs using your core to keep the body upright. Bend the front leg into a lunge position and then push off the front leg and return the feet to first position. Repeat 5 times to the front, then 5 times to the side. Do the same exercise with the right foot. To add a challenge, do this exercise with arms extended out to the side or overhead. 
  5. Ballet Jumps: Begin in first position. Bend the knees slightly and jump slightly into the air. Return to the starting position landing softly back in first position with knees slightly bent. Repeat eight times. Do the same exercise in second position, and in third position (right foot front) and third position (left foot front).

You may want to finish your beginning barre workout with a series of gentle stretching movements.

Ailey Barre Workout

Ailey Barre at The Ailey Extension

Ailey Barre /  Kyle Froman

The next at-home barre workout comes from Sarita Allen, a former dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Sarita founded Ailey Barre in 2015 and teaches the class to students of all levels at Ailey Extension in New York City.

"Ailey Barre improves posture, increases equilibrium, and enhances core and leg strength," says Allen. "These improvements will enable you to move through life with power and grace." 

The exercises are designed to achieve the maximum results in a minimum amount of space. You can use a chair or countertop for support, but all the exercises should be performed with abdominal muscles scooped in and up, and with the spine as long as possible.​

  1. Hip Stretch and Leg Warm-up:  Hold a chair with your right hand and stand tall with your feet in a parallel position beneath you. Lift the left arm to the side so that it is even with the shoulder. Extend left leg forward, raise and hold the foot 6 inches off the floor. Rotating from the hip, turn the leg out (clockwise) then return back to starting position. Repeat 8 times on each side.
  2. Plié: Face the back of the chair with legs in second position. Slowly bend the legs as far down as you can go without letting heels come off the floor. Return to straight legs and repeat 4 times. As you move through the plié, make sure the knees move directly over the toes.
  3. Leg Swing: Hold the chair with your left hand, and extend right arm straight up towards the ceiling. Extend the right leg behind you with toes pointed on the floor. Now swing the right leg freely forward and back 16 times. Repeat on the other side.
  4. Plié 2: Face the back of the chair with legs in second position. Slowly bend the legs as far as you can go without letting your heels come off the floor. Now lift the heels off the floor and hold for 3 seconds. Lower the heels and then straighten the legs. Repeat the sequence 8 times.
  5. Hamstring Stretch: Face the front of the chair. Place the right leg on the chair, and slowly walk the hands down the leg until they rest on either side of the chair seat. The chest will move closer to the knee. While in this forward stretch position, bend and straighten the standing leg 8 times. Then return to an upright position and repeat the sequence on the other side.
  6. Leg Extension: Hold onto the back of the chair with the feet in first position. Lift the right leg placing the toe just below the knee cap. Your leg should remain turned out. Extend your toes away from the body until the leg is straight at a 90-degree angle at your hip. Lower the leg to the floor and repeat 8 times. Then do the entire sequence on the other side.

Fluidity Barre Workout at Home

Woman doing barre workout with a Fluidity Bar
Fluidity Bar

If you love to do barre workouts at home, you may want to consider investing in a barre of your own so that you don't have to stand next to a chair or countertop. You can purchase a wall-mounted barre from companies like Pure Barre.

You may want to consider an adjustable system like Fluidity Barre, a portable barre and workout system that stores underneath a bed or in a closet. Both Fluidity Barre and Pure Barre sell online workouts and workout DVDs that you can do at home.

Michelle Austin founded the Fluidity Barre program. She says that her barre workouts promote a balanced and symmetrical body and also helps to strengthen the pelvic floor, which helps with incontinence in women.

Use Barre Workouts for Weight Loss

Woman drinking water in kitchen

Kentaroo Tryman / Getty Images

You can also use a home barre workout to lose weight if you are consistent with the program and pair it with a healthy diet.

"You can generally expect to burn approximately 300 to 400 calories per hour," Michelle Austin says about her Fluidity workout, adding that the number can vary depending on your body type. "And you don't need to spend hours and hours working out!" Austin recommends doing two 30-minute workouts a week to start, with at least 48 hours in between each session to maximize recovery. 

According to Austin, Fluidity users often feel results immediately, and start to see results in just 10 days. "The workout activates and integrates nearly all of your 630-plus muscles including the large and small muscles that give shape, flow, and function to your whole body. So results do happen quickly."

The trainer suggests that you add a cardio component like walking, running, dancing or swimming to your fitness routine as well, "as these are natural forms of movement and complementary to Fluidity."

Review samples and services were provided by the manufacturer for review purposes.

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