Ever wondered what barre is all about? At Balance Festival, you can discover for yourself. Xtend Barre are bringing their fantastic barre program to Balance Festival, with both 20 minute taster and 45 minute Xpress classes all throughout the weekend. But if you just can't wait to try it for yourself, we've got a little preview right here in the Balance Journal to give you a flavour of Xtend Barre.
Here to tell us more is Xtend Barre instructor Lucy Mills.
Xtend Barre is my workout of choice. It sculpts the body proportionally so that all body parts are equally challenged. This total body workout serves to strengthen and lengthen. You will sweat and burn calories in addition to sculpting and toning. My clients often say how long and lean they begin to feel. The class is fast paced, yet focused. You never get bored as no two classes are exactly alike.
Because you use your own body weight as resistance, Xtend Barre can help to increase bone density and can be effective in developing lean muscle mass. The program provides a stronger core to support a healthy body, a lifted derrière, improved posture, endurance and overall energy, increased flexibility and greater body awareness.
The Xtend Barre method was developed with dance and Pilates principles at its core. Xtend Barre instructors not only instruct exercises but also give cues that challenge and correct form and alignment. This provides for a very safe and effective workout for individuals of all levels.
The Xtend Barre experience is always fun, unique and challenging and classes stay fresh and unique. With both a cardio element and challenges for stretch, strength, stability and stamina, it is a total body workout. Whether your goal is to lose weight, build strength, increase flexibility, add variety to your current workout, or all of the above, Xtend Barre helps you achieve actual results.
An invigorating warm up increases the heart rate and prepares clients for the work ahead. My favourite Warm Up exercise is the Advanced Curtsy Series. It's a great one for challenging the coordination and lower body.
Curtsy Tendu: Curtsy right leg as your right arm reaches towards floor and left arm extends up at a high diagonal. Step your right foot to tendu side as arms come back to 2nd. Complete 8 repetitions.
Curtsy Passé: Repeat curtsy lunge, lift R leg up to passé (toes to knee) as R arm reaches to high 5th. Complete 8 repetitions.
Curtsy Battement: Repeat, as above, taking R leg to battement kick, arms to 2nd. Complete 8 repetitions.
Repeat on opposite leg.
To modify this series, either just perform the Curtsy Tendu series or omit the diagonal reach of the arms, keeping them in 2nd position as the legs perform the exercise and the spine stays upright.
The upper body segment begins using light weights to target the shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest and upper back muscles. We then move down to the mat, to do some floor based exercises such as push ups and tricep dips. My favourite Upper Body exercise is Tricep Dips. It's an intense and effective isolation exercise that helps develop powerful and defined triceps. Additionally, many smaller stabilizer muscles in your upper body, which are typically difficult to engage or isolate, are worked as you control and balance your body during dips.
Set up: Knees bent, hips width apart, in front of body, feet on floor. Reach arms behind you and place hands on floor under shoulders - fingers facing forward.
- Beginner: Keep pelvis/ seat down and shift weight over hands. Bend elbows as you lower your upper body towards floor. Resist into the floor as you straighten your arms. Complete 8 repetitions.
- Intermediate: Lift pelvis off floor and shift weight over hands. Keep thighs connected. Bend elbows and resist up to starting position. Only the arms are moving, do not lower and lift seat. Complete 8 repetitions.
- Advanced: Bend the knee into chest as you bend your elbows. Extend both the arms and leg together. Continue to dip and extend the leg and arms...think of a can-can dancer. Complete 8 repetitions on each side.
At any of these levels you can add a small pulse at the bottom of the tricep dip.
Barre (Lower Body)
During the barre portion of the class, clients challenge their balance, coordination, strength and flexibility with intense seat and thigh work and cardio series. Similarly to the upper body segment, we work both the front, back and sides of the body in a balanced way.
My favourite Barre/ Lower Body exercise is the Fold Over Series. This is great to strengthen the hip and tone the lower body. Who doesn't love a lifted derrière and peachy glutes!
Set Up: Feet together in parallel stance. Fold at hips placing folded arms on barre with head resting on hands, heels are directly under hips, toes under navel, soften knees. To advance, extend the arms long on barre slightly wider than shoulders.
The supportive leg remains bent throughout series. Back remains straight, no arching. Support the lower back with abdominal engagement.
- Straight leg back: Extend leg parallel to floor straight behind body. Lift and lower leg, full ROM. Complete 8 repetitions.
- Pulse up with pointed toe. Complete 16 repetitions.
- Hamstring curl: Flex foot and bend knee, maintaining height of thigh. Extend leg to return. Complete 8 repetitions.
- Foot to ceiling: Hold hamstring curl position so the bottom of the foot is facing up, lift and pulse shape up using seat muscles.
We then engage the core deeper with an intense abdominal series performed on the floor. My favourite Core exercise is plank. Not only can we strengthen the abdominals in this exercise but also the shoulder girdle and stabilisation.
Set up: Forearms resting on the floor, elbows beneath shoulders. Legs joined together with knees resting on the floor. Tuck the toes under. Draw the pelvis in line with the shoulders so torso finds a level spine "plank" position. Stabilise shoulders.
- Beginner: Hold this position, focussing on form - neutral spine, shoulders stabilised and legs adducted.
- Intermediate: Pressing back into the heels, extend the knees to lengthen legs without lifting the pelvis or losing neutral spine. Flex knees, returning them to the floor, maintaining height of pelvis. Imagine you are resting a tea set on your back. Complete 8 slow repetitions and 16 repetitions to tempo.
We always conclude the Xtend Barre class with a calming stretch series to relax the body and mind."
Lucy Mills, of Your Ideal Fit, is a qualified STOTT Pilates and Xtend Barre instructor and will be part of the team, from Xtend Barre London, teaching Xtend Barre classes at Balance Festival. For more exercise ideas, check out Lucy's Instagram page - @youridealfit . For more information on Xtend Barre London, find them on Instagram @xtendbarrelondon.More from the Journal