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The amazing at-home workout I can’t stop talking about (and doing)

There is something I just can’t stop talking about.

Like I literally bring it up in nearly every conversation – with my friends, my sisters, with the girl at the Young Life office when I was turning in my son’s camp paperwork.

And if I’m not talking about it, I’m making people do it with me – out of town guests, my mom and dad, around the pool at girls’ weekend.

It’s mildly ridiculous, but here’s the thing: I feel like this is transforming me. My body, my breathing, my strength, my mindfulness.

What is this magical thing, you might ask? Well, let me tell you :)

Barre3 online classes.

When I was a girl, I danced ballet. It was everything to me. At one point, my ballet company brought my parents into the office and told them that they saw promise in me as a dancer, but my feet were not right. They wanted to break the bones and reconstruct the arch so that I could dance on pointe. Needless to say, my parents thought that wasn’t the best idea for their 12 year old daughter and my ballet career was over.

Fast forward 26 years and I still love ballet. As a new year’s resolution a couple years back, I took an adult ballet class. I felt like the biggest fish out of water and never returned.

A few years later, I found a barre class at my local YMCA and fell in love (I blogged a little about it here). If I couldn’t dance ballet, at least I could do some of the moves in a workout.

When we moved to our new town, I took a barre class at a local studio and felt like I was going to die. I’m only barely exaggerating; it was shocking how terrible I felt the entire class. Come to find out, my iron levels at the time were dangerously low and my poor body was not producing enough oxygen for me to keep up. Thankfully I survived, but it did keep me a little afraid of working out for several months.

This spring, I was finally feeling better and decided to give an at-home workout a try. I pulled up an old video I have in my Amazon video library (this one) and did it a couple of times. I really like the video, but was feeling bored of doing the same workout over and over.

After a bit of digging into who the teacher of that video was and discovered that she is the founder of a barre studio out of Portland, Oregon called Barre3. I was happy to find that while they do not have a physical location in my area, they do offer an online workout library for a monthly fee. I signed up on the spot and could not be happier with my decision.

Since May, I’ve been completely smitten with these online barre workouts, fitting in a 30, 40 or 60 minute session 3-5 times per week. I don’t say that to be braggy – I’m just really surprised at how much I now LOVE working out.

Let me tell you a little bit about the workout, where I do it, what the moves look like, what gear you need and then at the end I’ll tell you why I love it so much.

THE WORKOUT

I explain barre as a mix between pilates, yoga and exercises inspired by ballet barre moves. You definitely do not need to have ballet experience to take or enjoy this workout. Also, you do not need to be well-versed in yoga poses or pilates form.

Barre3 explains it like this:

Barre3 mixes the best moves of yoga, pilates, cardio, and weight training to balance your body while giving you a deep muscle burn and endorphin high.”

WHAT YOU NEED

Before the kids got out of school, I worked out in my studio. I just pulled out my gear from the bottom drawer, turned on a video and when I was finished, put it all back in the drawer and would get to my regular work.

This summer I’ve been switching the location up. Ryan moved his office into the studio for the summer (and beyond?) so he can work without distraction, so I’ve been mainly working out in the house (or the front porch, as seen below). Lately, I found that the entry way is the perfect spot since there is a mirror I can check my form in and I just open the front door to let the breeze in.

All you need for the workout is a yoga mat, light handheld weights (I switch between 2 lb and 3 lb), a small pilates ball and band. Some videos use the weights, ball and band, others do not use any props.

These are the exact things I use: yoga mat, weights, ball + band set.

I prefer to work out on a hard floor (carpet makes balancing much more difficult) and you really only need as much space as the yoga mat takes up.

HOW TO TAKE THE CLASSES

There are a handful of online and in-studio options for barre. Just do a quick google search for “barre + your city” and you’ll likely find a studio. Or if you find another video, youtube channel or online library of workouts, go for it! You certainly don’t have to take from Barre3. I just happen to think it’s great, enjoy the workouts, the instruction, the well-done website and working out online makes it super easy to do anywhere.

I joined the monthly program and pay $29 per month for access to all of the 300+ videos. There are also meal plans and regular Q+A sessions as part of the subscription. TRY FOR 15 DAYS FOR FREE.

When you log in to your account, there is a library of online workouts to choose from. You can do 10 minute, 30, 40 or 60 minute classes. There are a handful of instructors and variety of moves, modifications and areas of focus in each workout.

THE MOVES

Every class is laid out in about the same format.

You start with lower body- lots of squats, lunges, carousel horse pose. Your quads, hamstrings and glutes will start burning quickly!

You move between large range of motion, small range (think down and inch, up an inch, over and over) and isometric holds. Your muscles will begin to vibrate as you get deeper into working them and while it is super hard and strange feeling, it feels so powerful to be able to push through and know your body is getting stronger.

Barre3 loves a good plank.

After lower body, you move into combo work with light handheld weights.

This gets your heart rate up, uses every muscle in your body and is very low impact, but super efficient.

After combo, you move to core strengthening.

Barre3 really focuses on the complete core – not just your abs, but also your back, shoulders, hips and seat.

To finish, you do a few minutes of cool-down stretches and end with a big inhale and exhale, like in yoga class.

Some videos are more ballet-inspired, using a chair for a barre, so I took photos of those moves as well.

WHY I LOVE BARRE SO MUCH

So here’s what I’m learning about fitness – you have to find the workout that feels right for you and go for it. I know barre is not for everyone, it just happens to completely energize me (which is why I can’t stop talking about it).

For years, I tried to run with my runner girlfriends and just couldn’t get into it. I tried cross fit once and decided quickly that was not for me. I’ve done step aerobics, dance, pilates and spinning. All were fine, but not totally my thing.

Barre is my thing. I feel strong and graceful; I push my body, but it never feels painful; I finish the workout feeling good and excited to do it again.

You guys, those statements I just made DO NOT SOUND LIKE ME. I’ve never been fitness-crazy. I probably should have been caring for my body long before now, I just never knew what to do. And now I know. And I want you to be as excited about it as I am :)

Okay, so here’s what I love about Barre3:

YOU CAN DO IT ANYWHERE

I would honestly love to take a class in an actual studio, but we do not have many options in our town. Therefore, I workout at home. Sometimes that’s much more convenient anyway. I can choose my own time, location, duration of class.

This summer I’ve taken to working out on the front porch, which is quite delightful.

INSTRUCTION IS SO GOOD

The online instructions for my Barre3 videos are friendly, approachable and very knowledgable. They talk you through each move, explaining just where your toes should be, where your knees should be, reminding you to relax your neck and shoulders, etc. As you learn to do the postures correctly, you move deeper into strengthening and lengthening your muscles, so it is helpful to have someone reminding you throughout the whole workout to check your form. This is also why I like working out in front of a mirror, when possible.

WORK THE MUSCLES THAT NEED WORKING

As they say in nearly every workout, the Barre3 method really focuses on the back body to support, lengthen, improve posture and counterbalance how front-body focused we are throughout the day. A lot of attention is paid to our glutes and side seat (yes, please!) and for nearly the whole workout, you are engaging your core for a full-body workout.

QUIET, MINDFUL, HARD

Some people need fast-pace, pounding, punching, super sweaty workouts. You won’t get that with barre (well, maybe except for the sweaty part). There is a lot of balance, controlled movement, isometric holds, attention to form. It is not a workout you chit-chat with your girlfriends through, but instead requires intentional focus.

BREATH TRAINING

I am surprised by how much the instruction in breathing has made its way into my regular life. When I feel anxious I remind myself to inhale deeply through my nose, and exhale fully out my mouth (just as my barre instructors remind me to do in every workout). It’s truly amazing how getting a good, deep breath can release tension and allow you to push through hard moments physically, but also mentally and emotionally.

ADAPTABLE

Perhaps my favorite thing about these barre workouts is how easy it is to modify for your particular body. In every video there is a main teacher and two others – one is doing every move full out, the other is modifying to show how things can be done if your knees, back, neck, shoulders, etc are not able to do the full movement. And the best part, is there is no guilt! The instructors say multiple times to do the workout that feels best for your body.

Which makes sense, right? My mom is in her 60’s and had back surgery last year. Surely, she can not (or should not) be moving in ways that will strain her, but instead should modify to build strength, balance and flexibility for her body. There are times when I can do the combo work with 3lb weights and other times when I need to put them down all together (like yesterday). You’re still getting a good workout whether you do the moves full out or modify for what feels right for your body in that moment.


(I just looked at the word count while typing and this thing is over 1900 words. I think that is a record for longest post in JDC history. If you are still reading, hi. And thanks for humoring me.)

So if we were real life friends and you were over at my house, the chances of me begging you to do a class with me are very high. I find great joy in trying to get everyone I know to love barre as much as I do :) Partially because it is fun to exercise with friends, but also because I truly find it to be an effective workout. It has been so good for my body, my mind and my soul.

But since most of you do not live nearby, perhaps you’d like to give Barre3 at try on your own. You can try it for free for 15 days and then decide if it’s something you want to spend your money on each month.

Use THIS LINK to join the free trial and I’ll get a small commission if you end up joining the monthly subscription.

I can’t wait to hear how you like it!

And now I’ll stop talking about barre. At least for today.

40 Responses to The amazing at-home workout I can’t stop talking about (and doing)

  1. Kate August 31, 2017 at 6:45 pm #

    I took a Barre 3 class in Boston a few months ago and then read your post. I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so on my 37th birthday, I signed up online and I have been doing workouts every day since, with the exception of a couple days I was on the road.
    I can’t thank you enough for planting the seed in my mind. This is my thing. After decades of dabbling in yoga, I have found something I love, that doesn’t injure me, and that makes me feel empowered. My posture is already changing, my strength with my children and my self esteem is transformed. I love the energy, the aesthetic, the way my body feels. It is just a beautiful practice. I love Lisa and Andrew’s workouts in particular.
    So, thank you for helping this mama of three feel so much better!

    • emily September 1, 2017 at 7:16 pm #

      I love Andrew’s workouts too. This makes me so happy that you have found something that you love, that feels good for your body, that grows your confidence. I’m right there with you!

  2. Alison August 29, 2017 at 6:37 am #

    I have a question. I live overseas and would like to sign up for something like this, but I wanted to know if you’re actually joining in with classes going on in real time (which probably wouldn’t be possible for me with the time difference), or are you paying for access to pre-recorded classes? I’ve been waiting for someone in my small provincial part of Austria to start offering barre classes, but so far I haven’t found anything and would like to give this online option a try. Thank you.

    • emily August 29, 2017 at 5:50 pm #

      Just paying for the videos – they do add new ones every week so you have tons to choose from!

  3. Jamie July 27, 2017 at 3:38 am #

    Signed up and did my first work out! Love it! I can see how easy it is to become addicted! Thanks so much for this.

    • Dianna T August 11, 2017 at 8:13 pm #

      I can’t express how excited I am for you! I went with a friend to my first Barre3 class at the studio in Tucson. It was a challenging class but my body felt so good after. I had been running regularly along with doing yoga and spin class, but Barre3 totally worked for me. I signed up for their January challenge – 4 classes a week and I was 100% hooked!

      I relocated and my new location doesn’t have a studio within 100 miles so I started doing the online classes. These classes work for me but I miss the high energy and music you get in a studio setting. But I’m grateful for the online workout to keep me going! Whenever I travel I look for a local Barre3 studio and take a class whenever possible. Glad to have you in the Barre3 tribe!!

  4. Jen July 26, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

    Did my first workout today and it whipped me. Did anyone else feel terrible after the first one?? I was doing MuTu Systems before but needed something to mix it up. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Heather July 26, 2017 at 5:12 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing this Emily! I’m so excited to try it!

  6. Amber July 22, 2017 at 6:36 am #

    Just did my first workout of the 15 day trial and it was GREAT! I have one of Sadie’s videos and LOVE it but after a while you need to mix it up. I’ve been in a workout slump and think this is exactly what I need! Thank you for posting about this, Emily!! :)

  7. Molly July 21, 2017 at 8:18 pm #

    Thank you for writing about this Emily! I’m burned out on Crossfit and this sounds exactly like what I need!

  8. Kim July 21, 2017 at 6:00 pm #

    So critical to love a fitness program to maintain motivation to achieve results. Can you talk about the results you have seen personally? I’m a runner and am looking for strength training without resorting to lifting as I don’t want bulk but more tone and definition.

    • emily July 23, 2017 at 9:49 pm #

      I have only been consistent for about 1.5 months, so I don’t know that I see any massive results yet. My goal is to see noticable toning by November (6 months). After years of not toning, I want to set myself up for smooth, realistic goals :)

      I do notice, however, that I feel stronger. I carry myself higher, move up stairs with ease, can do longer planks and more pushups than when I started.

  9. Cecilia July 21, 2017 at 10:48 am #

    I was looking for something to help me get back into shape. I am a working full-time Mom and although going to a group class/gym would be fun, I do not have the time between laundry, dinner, packing lunches, and chauffeur services for the kiddo for his activities/play dates. Now, THIS, I think would work for me. My time, my home. You blogs always seems to be the exact topics I have floating around in my head and the fact that you have tried it and love it says it all. Thank you! I cannot wait to start feeling and looking better.

    • emily July 23, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

      Yes! I hope you give it a try and find a little space in your week to fit it in!

  10. Sasha July 21, 2017 at 9:28 am #

    I have been looking on-line for some exercises for the last few days, but couldn’t find the right one i.e. exercises that include the warm-up and the cool down and don’t need a lot of space and equipment.
    I just finished a 30 min preview… And it felt great!
    Thank you for the inspiration!

    • emily July 23, 2017 at 9:49 pm #

      So glad you loved it!

  11. Susan July 21, 2017 at 7:38 am #

    Loved your post….very informative and makes the class seem less frightening/more approachable. I have a friend who swears by her barre workouts and she looks amazing; so I called her studio to see if I could observe a class because I have bad knees and was unsure if I could actually do the work. They were not receptive and I was so disappointed. I am 55 and will be having knee replacement surgery in about a month – both knees replaced over 4-6 month period. Are there parts of this workout that I can do now to strengthem my muscles in preparation for surgery? And, with new knees, new lease on life and ull mobility in the new year, do you think this low impact, strength building activity is something I would be able to do? I’ve asked my doctor and all she’s told me is that I won’t be able to run or do high impact workouts. You mentioned your mama’s back surgery which is what prompted me to ask if you/she might have any insight. Sorry for the long winded question!

    • Susan July 22, 2017 at 11:36 am #

      Update: I watched a couple of their videosand am jumping in (well not actually jumping) with enthusiasm. So glad they show the modified version – it’s seems doable! Joined today!

    • emily July 23, 2017 at 9:52 pm #

      YES! Absolutely! I feel so strongly that strengthening the core (abs, back, glutes) will benefit us all in so many ways. You can absolutely modify nearly every move and the instructors will give you suggestions for modifications. It would be great to strengthen before doing the surgery and then to add it in to your daily routine to build back your strength after the knee replacement surgery. I hope it works out for you!

  12. Becky July 21, 2017 at 2:22 am #

    Off the subject…what is the color of the exterior of your home? It’s really pretty.

    • emily July 23, 2017 at 9:53 pm #

      This was the color it was painted by the original owners and I have not been able to find the color. Just a nice gray :)

  13. lindsey cheney July 20, 2017 at 5:04 pm #

    hey friend –

    you got me hooked! after working out with you this summer i have been keeping up with it 6-7 times a week! it really is so easy (ok, not easy at all, but easy to do at home and not leave the house) and fun and different every time so i don’t get bored. thanks for the inspiration! #embracethechaos ;)

    xoxo

    • emily July 23, 2017 at 9:53 pm #

      6-7 times?!!! You’re amazing.

  14. Leslie July 20, 2017 at 1:27 pm #

    Barre3 is the best! I am so glad you love it, and wrote about it! I agree wholeheartedly with every last word. Totally my experience as well.

  15. Sarah Weiss July 20, 2017 at 12:01 pm #

    If you love barre3 you should try Physique 57! I’ve tried both of these and I found barre3 very slow paced. Physique 57 kicks it up a notch and makes things fun and switches things more quickly so I don’t get bored.

  16. Abby July 20, 2017 at 11:58 am #

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time. For the past couple days I’ve been looking around for studios in my area that have barre classes but couldn’t find one that worked with my schedule (I need an early early morning class). I currently go to a group fitness gym that has classes, and while I love it, I’m ready to try something different. Something that tones, lengthens and leans muscles as opposed to heavy weights. I had found that Pure barre had online classes but didn’t know about barre3. I will definitely give this a try! Thanks!

  17. Deborah Thompson July 20, 2017 at 11:43 am #

    Well…you’ve sold me! With the ability to do it on my lap top, the minimum space requirements, as well as the minimum tools needed for a complete workout- THIS is right up my alley!
    Thank you! I can’t wait to begin.

  18. Sierra July 20, 2017 at 11:15 am #

    I felt the same way when I found barre3- it’s a great fit for me and something I’m excited to do. Love that I can get a great workout in 10minutes and that I feel strong but not toasted at the end

  19. Annette Silveira July 20, 2017 at 10:55 am #

    I’m in! I love yoga, but at 54, I need a little more dedicated toning. All the options make it seem like a no-brainer.

  20. Christina July 20, 2017 at 10:43 am #

    Thanks so much for the recommendation! I’m excited to give barre workouts a try! And can we talk about the blue racerback tank you’re wearing in some of the photos? I’d love to know where it’s from. I’m always trying to find a more forgiving workout top that isn’t skintight…

    • emily July 20, 2017 at 11:06 am #

      I think that tank is from target – not a workout tank. Just a regular one :)

  21. Jen July 20, 2017 at 10:35 am #

    I love it too! Doing the 28-day summer challenge right now with their great meal-plan. Very good!

  22. Taylor July 20, 2017 at 10:33 am #

    I feel the same way about Pure Barre!

  23. Jackie Young July 20, 2017 at 10:32 am #

    I cannot wait to try this Emily. Thanks so much for the inspiration 💕

  24. Jen July 20, 2017 at 10:19 am #

    You are too cute with your enthusiasm. I would totally stop by your house and exercise with you! lol

  25. Sarah July 20, 2017 at 10:18 am #

    I’ll have to check out Barre3! I danced for 14 years and miss it all the time. I’ve been really wanting to try Barre, but there’s never a place nearby to where I’m living. Thank you Emily!

  26. Luci July 20, 2017 at 10:16 am #

    I feel the same way about Pure Barre! I am completely obsessed and it has transformed my mind and body.

  27. Kathy July 20, 2017 at 10:03 am #

    Agree! I love Barre3 too. I love that you can do it in a small space – I have a basket in my office with all my equipment. I mix it in with weight training, pilates reformer, tennis, walking/running! I am usually sweating after the workout. Always a surprise since you wouldn’t think it would that hard!

  28. Kara July 20, 2017 at 9:52 am #

    I LOVE barre3 as well! When you mentioned you were doing barre at the YMCA I recommended barre3. I’m glad you’ve discovered it!

  29. Lona July 20, 2017 at 9:34 am #

    So excited to give this a try, thank you Emily!

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