Quick and Easy Ballet-Barre Workout
Want a more toned, dancerlike physique? Try sidling up to the barre. And you don’t have to train en pointe to see results: Ballet-inspired workouts, such as the popular Bar Method classes, combine small, isolated movements with lots of reps to burn calories and sculpt muscles. All you need is a sturdy, straight-backed chair (to sub for the barre), a stopwatch, and this lower-body routine designed by Melissa Ramsey and Gina Parisi Williams, co-owners of the Bar Method in Bernardsville, New Jersey. Do it once through (preferably to up-tempo dance music), three to five times a week.
Warm-Up: Leg Lifts
(A) Stand with your feet together, chest lifted, and abdominals drawn in. Raise your arms in front of you to shoulder height and bend your elbows to 90 degrees.
(B) In one motion, bend your right knee and lift your leg to hip height as you lower your arms down to your waist. Return to the starting position, then switch sides. This is one rep; repeat 20 times without pausing. (This should feel like marching in place at a fast pace.)
Move 1: Calf Raises
(A) Stand at forearm’s length from the back of a chair, with your right hand resting on the chair for support. Move your feet into a V position, heels touching and toes pointing outward. Lift your left arm overhead, keeping your elbow rounded and bending ever so slightly forward at the waist.
(B) Without tensing your lower back, squeeze your glutes and raise your heels about two inches. Lower to the floor. Repeat 60 times.
Move 2: Thigh Work
(A) Stand at forearm’s length from the back of a chair, with your right hand resting on the chair for support and your feet hip-distance apart. Raise your heels as high as is comfortable. Keeping your back straight and your heels lifted, lower down a third of your height.
(B) Lower your body one inch and raise up one inch at varying speeds. Repeat 50 times.
Move 3: Fold-Overs
Stand behind the back of a chair at arm’s length, with your feet hip-distance apart.
(A) Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward from the hips so that your torso is parallel to the ground. Hold on to the back of the chair with both hands and point your elbows down.
(B) Raise your right leg as high as is comfortable behind you (but no higher than hip height). Lower and lift your leg one inch from this position. Do 60 mini-lifts, varying your speed from medium-fast to fast. Switch sides and repeat.
Move 4: Back Dancing
(A) Lie on your back on the floor (or a yoga mat), with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Step your feet apart as wide as possible. Rest your arms on the floor at your sides.
(B) Press your rib cage into the floor, squeeze your glutes, and tilt your torso to raise your seat about five inches off the floor. Lower back down to the starting position. Repeat for three minutes, varying your speed from medium-fast to fast.