Chiara Pellegrino is one to watch on the London fitness scene. With a professional dance background and a teaching presence in two of the city’s top studios, barrecore and Psycle London, she instils every class with high energy and precise effective movements. She also helps to spread her wisdom at the online home of her personal blog, 4fitnessake.co.uk. And lucky for Fit Brit Collective readers, she’s agreed to share five of her favourite barre-inspired exercises that you don’t need a barre for. Which means you can start incorporating them into your regime today – right now, wherever you are…
When I say that I teach at barrecore I’m often asked, “Oh so you teach ballet?”…Well, not exactly.
Yes, the barre workout includes some typical positions derived from ballet, but they are revised and refined to provide a holistic fitness workout. No “port the bras” or “grand jeté’ (split jump), but lots of painful isometric contractions.
Painful yes, but definitely results-oriented.
And this is why I would wholeheartedly recommend giving these five barre-based moves a go – whether you are a barrecore addict or have yet to experience it.
The lunge is a very popular movement in any kind of workout as the exercise has many toning, strengthening and flexibility benefits.
You can hold a bench or a surface in your kitchen for more stability, otherwise simply prepare for your lunge with your hands on the hips. Step your left leg back and make sure the right knee is in line with the right ankle. The back knee should hover just above the floor.
To give the position a “barre twist” add little isometric pulses, dropping the back knee a little lower. At all time keep the spine strong and vertical. Rolling the shoulders down the back, you want to engage also your lats and abdominal muscles.
Lunge is a great position to work on the quads, glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors.
The isometric contractions will further help in burning the fat around your muscles, and breaking down muscle fibre only to rebuild it so it’s leaner and stronger.
After a few reps, flush out the lactic acid with the full-range movement, then come back to the starting position and pulse in the low stance. For an extra tough challenge, lift the front heel off the floor as you pulse – bringing the calf and ankle stabiliser muscles into play.
The classic ballet “grand pliè” is very common in a barre workout.
The benefits of the position include: working your adductor (inner thighs) muscles, as well as your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves.
To set up the position, step your feet wider than your shoulders with a natural turn out of the hips. Then lower the tailbone in line with the knees, making sure the knees are tracking over the middle toes.
Get your hands in prayer or in a high V – this will increase your heart rate by pumping blood against gravity, therefore burning even more calories.
You can use isometric pulses in this position or wrap the knees out towards the pinky toes – adding to the tension on your abductors (outer thighs).
To challenge your core stability, peel your heels off the floor and continue with the same exercise.
After lots of isometric holds, it is best to release the lactic acid with a full range of motion. For a cardio burst that will leave you a little sweaty, accelerate the movement – make sure there’s a solid surface nearby for extra stability at speed.
Plank is one of my favorite positions in barre workouts as it’s a full body exercise, engaging core, back, legs and shoulders for the isometric hold.
To start, get into a kneeling position and place your elbows in line with your shoulders. Tuck your toes under and fully extend your legs, keeping lots of tension through your hamstrings so there’s a nice straight line down your back.
There are lots of choreographic options that you can perform while in a plank: twists, legs lifts, shifts of the weight forward and back, circles …
The side plank is a great option to work particularly on the obliques.
Keeping your body in a straight line, and shoulders and hips stacked on top of each other, try to lift the top leg a couple of inches or as high as you can. Squeeze it up and down for an extra glute contraction, or simply hold it and breathe through the shaking.
<img class=" size-full wp-image-1078 aligncenter" src="http://fitbritcollective.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/BridgeStraightLeg.jpeg" alt="Barre Bridge Exercise" width="674" height="674" srcset="http://fitbritcollective.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/BridgeStraightLeg.jpeg 674w, http://fitbritcollective blog link.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/BridgeStraightLeg-150×150.jpeg 150w, http://fitbritcollective.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/BridgeStraightLeg-300×300.jpeg 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 674px) 100vw, 674px” />
One of the very best booty builders, the bridge is a great way to focus on your glutes.
Lie on your back with the arms along the side of your body and the knees bent. Draw the heels as close as possible to the pubic bone and hover the tailbone off the floor. Make sure the spine is nice and neutral and engage the abdominals to avoid any arch or strain in the lumbar spine.
Press your hips towards the ceiling, tucking the tailbone and squeezing the glutes. Lift one leg up to tabletop or straight to the sky for a more advanced option. Lower the leg (straight or bent) to hover over the floor, then lift it back up for a full range of motion.
This is the best position for building a rock hard abdominal wall.
Sit down with your knees bent and place your hands on the back of the thighs. Squeeze the belly button into the spine, tuck your tailbone towards your chest and hinge back, coming into a C shape with the spine.
Holding this position should feel challenging, even before you progress the movement. Once you’re comfortable in the C shape, start drawing the abdominals in to your knees without adjusting your spinal alignment. See if you can release your hands from your thighs to keep the work in your core.
Finally, to increase the work even more, lift your legs off the floor in table top or straight out to 45 degrees.