Cross-fit, Hot Yoga, Indoor Cycle, Barre Fitness: you may hear these “buzz words” on a regular basis as latest fitness trends emerge. Which one is for you? What are the benefits? Here I am going to educate you on the choice of exercise of A-list celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Madonna: Barre Fitness. What is it, why has it become so popular over the passed 5 years, who is it beneficial for, and how is it done.

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What is Barre Fitness?

Being endorsed by A-list celebrities such as Madonna, Natalie Portman, and Zoey Deschanel, my curiosity peaked when more and more clients told me they at some point or other were doing or had done Barre-based workouts. So I decided to attend a class and a hands-on seminar to learn more about it.

Barre-based fitness was developed in the 1950’s by a Ballet dancer.

     The vision: Developing a ballet dancers body–long, lean muscles, and a strong core

     The Technique: Barre exercises combine principles from Pilates, yoga, and of course ballet

     The Barre: The barre is the tool that helps you get deeper into exercises and stretches to stimulate the muscles that conventional methods don’t stimulate.

     The Exercises: Use of body weight, weighted toning balls, resistance bands, and yoga straps can be incorporated into a barre-based workout.

In the class I took we also used light hand weights, which I enjoyed because I believe strength training is extremely important and something not enough women take part in (I’ll save that for another blog–in the meantime you can watch “The Importance of Strength Training).

Why has it become so popular?


The reason why we are seeing Barre studios pop-up all over the place is because Jennifer Aniston, Madonna, Natalie Portman, and Zoey Deschanel are all doing it! In actuality, from my professional standpoint, barre fitness has a slew of benefits; you just have to see if it is for you, which I will discuss shortly.

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Reason #1: The increase in people doing desk-jobs


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Incorporating yoga, Pilates, and strengthening, barre workouts help to stretch out the muscles that become increasingly tight with long-periods of sitting.

Stretching is important for everyone especially people that have desk jobs (see my blog on The Importance of Stretching). Prolonged sitting often leads to tight hips, hamstrings, chest, and shoulder  muscles to name a few

It also helps to strengt
hen postural muscles that weaken and lead to neck and shoulder tension and lower back pain.

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Reason #2: It is low-impact

The first barre-classes in Canada were created with support from a team of Physiotherapists. This fact scored major brownie points with me, since I often work with people who are recovering from injuries. There are no jumping or impactful moves.

I have yet to come across someone who has injured themself from a barre-workout.

Reason #3: It caters to all levels

Whether you are brand new to exercising or are a life long exerciser, barre workouts will get you to work up a sweat. I sure worked up a sweat in the class I did. The class I did was at 6am and I strolled in not expecting to work up a sweat: boy was I wrong!

Who is it Beneficial for?

Barre workouts are beneficial for so many different types of people: the desk worker:

  • the person who understands exercise is important but doesn’t want to kill himself or herself during a 90-minute session of P90X;
  • the pregnant person (get physician’s approval);
  • the person who wants enjoys yoga but needs to engage in more strengthening; the person who needs a change from the constant sore muscles of pull-ups and deadlifts, but still wants to maintain muscle strength; the person who has an injury—depending on the nature of your injury, barre exercises can be a great non-impact alternative to keep you fit;
  • the person who needs a change from doing the same old; the new parent who doesn’t have time to go the gym—having a barre in your home allows you to exercise at your own convenience;
  • the avid runner who needs to stretch but also strengthen his/her upper body (many runners get knee injuries, one reason may be due to weak glutes. I have included a video here, watch at 1:40 for exercises to help strengthen glute medius);
  • The adolescent who is still growing;
  • The elderly who can use the sturdy barre for support while engaging in exercises beneficial for injury prevention.

How is it done?

There are a number of different exercises that are done with the Barre; I have included a video to help get you started on your Barre workout!

(My favorite part begins at the 10 minute mark)

There you have it: the Who, What, Why, and How on Barre Fitness. If your interest is peaked and you feel you can benefit from it I recommend searching for a class in your area that you can drop in to. You may be pleasantly surprised with what a good workout it is. I know I was!

Asma Kassam
Asma is a Registered Kinesiologist and Personal Trainer at AK Fitness Inc. She teaches bootcamps, personal training and active rehabilitation. She trains at a studio in Burnaby—Capitol Hill Athletics—as well as a studio in Downtown Vancouver. She is also passionate about nutrition as is a Certified Sports Nutrition Advisor. Visit my webpage at