WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BARRE AND HIIT

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January 5, 2020

A barre workout may be confusing to some people. While other types of workouts seem like a no brainer to whether or not it’s cardio, strength training, weight training or stretching, a barre workout doesn’t instantly tell you what type of workout it is. So in order to better understand barre, I’ll explain the different types of barre workouts and what type of workout they are considered to be.

Students getting ready to take a cardio-based barre class at Barre Centric in Buffalo.

What are barre classes like?

There are a variety of barre classes from basic to fusion to interval; however, not all studios offer the classes below so be sure to do your research before trying a class. 

  • Basic barre class: This type of class is a full-body strength-training class that combines elements of Pilates, dance, and yoga. This class structure is slower as is the range of motion for most movements. Your instructor may cue something similar to this: “Make it smaller!” “Contract the engaged muscles!” “’Decrease your range of motion!” and “Less down; more up”.
  • Fusion/cardio barre class: This type of class is a cardio- and strength-training workout combining elements from a basic barre class but adds in opportunities where you can speed up the movements to get a heart pumping workout. This is done at the ballet barre or in the center of the room and is a much faster pace than a typical basic barre class.
  • Interval barre class: This is a blend of a barre workout and interval training. This is as fast paced and upbeat a barre class can get. In my opinion, this is the definition of a HIIT workout besides that it’s much longer than a normal HIIT workout. Scroll down below to learn more about HIIT workouts. This class is bound to leave you sweating and shaking as the high repetition movement is designed to create lean muscle definition. The speed of this class can help improve your endurance and condition your cardiovascular system. So yes barre can be considered a HIIT workout.
  • Beginner/Intermediate/Expert barre class: Lastly, your barre studio may offer classes that are named based off of the level types. I recommend to take a beginner barre class for your first 15 to 20 classes. This way you can learn the terminology and form of barre. After 15 to 20 classes, I would move to intermediate then after 40 or so, move to expert barre classes. However, if you’re super sore from a class and are looking to take it easy, then attend a beginner or intermediate barre class. Listen to your body!

What is HIIT and how does it work?

Earlier I mentioned HIIT workouts (High-Intensity Interval training or Sprint Interval Training), this is a cardiovascular exercise technique alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercises with less intense recovery periods. 

These workouts can be anywhere between five minutes to 45 minutes. Personally, I think longer than 45 minutes, and sometimes even 45 minutes, is too much for the body to handle since the objective is to go as hard and as fast as you can during work intervals. 

I think it’s important to note that in an interval barre class, which are 45 minutes long, you are also doing a light warm up, abdominal work in between intervals and a cool down so you are not doing intervals for 45 minutes straight. Again, listen to your body and take your time—the first time I tried an interval barre class I could barely get past the first 15 minutes!! 

For your first HIIT workout, I recommend staying with a 15-to-30 second range. This means resting for 15 seconds and working for 20 seconds (jumping jacks, burpees, etc) or vice versa if that is too much for you.

Are barre classes worth it?

Yes yes yes! Barre training can do wonderful things for your body;  I always recommend adding some type of strength training into your weekly workout routine. I do barre, weight training, running, cycling, SolidCore and much more! These workouts check all my bullet points off for what I’m trying to achieve with my fitness journey—don’t ever feel like you have to stick to one workout! 

In order to get the most bang (or burn) for your buck, shop around and see which classes make you shake, sweat and challenge you. Additionally, I recommend shopping around to see which instructor checks off all your bullet points for what you are trying to achieve. Some instructors may be harder or more enthusiastic—some people like this while others don’t and that’s okay! For example, see below:

  • Is the instructor challenging me?
  • Is the instructor motivating me?
  • Is the instructor positive?
  • Is the instructor correcting my form? 

Oftentimes, I have heard people say they felt like they didn’t get a work out in after trying a basic barre class. While you are not always drenched in sweat because the movements in a basic barre class are minimal, I try to tell people to wait a day or two and see if they feel sore and usually they do! Give it time as with anything!






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