The team at Xtend Barre love nothing more than to keep you on your toes (pardon the pun!) whist attending your favourite classes at the studio. It’s our passion, our motivation and basically what we live for! But what happens when you have to go away for work? When you are going on holiday or just can't make it to your favourite class?
Never fear... I have put together my top 5 favourite exercises from the barre.
These exercises include some cardio, isometric holds, those famous teeny tiny one-inch pulses along with some more dynamic, functional range of motion exercises, that will keep you moving, your muscles toned & sculpted, your bottom peachy & your body on pointe whist away. All you will need is a hard back chair or a worktop/counter in your home, office or hotel room, then you really can Xtend yourself anywhere!
This move will warm up your muscles and will get your heart pumping whilst still being easy on your joints.
1) Open arms and legs to 2nd position. Stand with feet wide, toes pointing to 10 and 2 o’clock and in a natural turn out, keeping a nice tall spine, shoulders & hips inline and abdominals gently pulled in.
2) Start by bending the knees into a deep Plié, making sure you keep your heels on the floor, checking for proper knee & toe alignment (knees out over the 2nd & 3rd toes).
3) As you lengthen the legs, transition weight to the right foot as you extend the left leg and point the toes – (think about activating your right butt cheek & left thigh here).
4) Bend knees through centre again and switch to the other side. Continue this movement to flow, lowering and lifting the arms to increase the cardio element. To advance, change the tendu to mini battement kick, lifting the foot a few inches off the floor. Breathing throughout.
Do this 16-32 times.
1st position Plié
Focuses on lengthening & strengthening the inner & outer thighs for the ultimate sculpt & burn!
1) Stand in parallel, rocking back in the heels as you open the feet to a natural turn out, otherwise known as 1st position. If needed, use a chair or counter top for support & to aid balance. Stand side on to the chair, resting a light hand, outside arm lifted to the side.
2) Take a deep Plié hold in your challenge zone - press through the feet to lengthening the legs, squeezing the hamstrings & seat and stretch all the way up. Repeat this action 8 times to hold the Plié.
3) Lifting the arm to a high 5th position, start to pulse within your challenge zone 8-16 times moving with inches, engaging the abdominals, keeping the spine tall and shoulder over hips.
4) Hold your body in your challenge zone and lift both heels off the floor, (keeping the ankles strong and the weight pressing into your big toe) pulse within inches up & down 8-16 times (are you shaking yet?). Remember shaking muscles are a good thing. These teeny tiny pulses & isometric holds strengthens your muscles, working both the large and small stabiliser muscles.
5) Pressing through the feet, lengthen and stretch the legs all the way up. To challenge your balance, float both arms in to a high 5th position above your head – lower the heels and breathe!
Lunge with Battement Kicks –Strengths & Lengthens
The lunge is a compound exercise, meaning it will work several muscle groups at once including your glutes and thighs. Your abdominals & back are also working hard to stabilise you during this exercise, which in itself is a great to challenge balance and reinforce good posture.
The battement with strengthen hips & front of thighs, whist improving flexibility & lengthening the hamstrings at the back.
1) Stand side on to the chair with feet parallel and hip-distance apart, keeping the spine tall, the shoulder in line with the hips, and the abs engaged, step the outside leg back, keeping the heel lifted.
2) Bend both knees into roughly a 90 degree angle to a lunge, making sure the front knee stays directly over the ankle and the back knee bends towards the floor and stays in line with the hips.
3) Pressing through the front foot and lengthen the legs all the way up, repeat full range of motion 8 times to hold.
4) Hold in your challenge zone & pulse within inches 8-16 times. To advance, lift the front heel and pulse 8-16 times.
5) Lower the front leg as we start to incorporate the Battement kick. Holding your lunge position, brush the back leg forwards to a controlled battement kick, keeping the body lengthened and the shoulder over the hips (do not let your torso collapse here, we are always wearing our invisible crowns!) Repeat this movement 8-16 times to really get the heart’s pumping.
Repeat the series on the other side.
Fold Over Series
For the ultimate peachy butt!
This is an Xtend Barre classic. The Fold Over target’s the glute’s and seriously lifts the seat.
1) Start an arm’s length away from your chair or worktop, feet together in a parallel stance.
2) Hinge forward, folding at the waist, placing folded arms on your chair, resting forehead on arms, looking down. Make sure your heels are directly underyour hips and toes are under your naval.
3) With the supporting leg slightly bent, extend one leg back straight behind the body, keeping the neck long and shoulders down. Maintain a neutral spine, engage the core abdominals and make sure there is no arching or sagging in the lower back and the hips always stay level. Feel length as you lift and lower the back leg 8-16 times. Then hold and pulse up and inch 8-16 times.
4) Flex the foot as you bend & extend the knee 8 times to hold and pulse foot to ceiling 8-16 times.
5) Extend, deepening the bend in the supporting leg, lengthening the back leg longer & hold for 8 counts. Lower the leg, step feet together and pony trot, swaying hips side to side, before repeating the same on the other side.
Passe Abs Series
This exercise is a great ab sculpting exercises that strengthens the abdominal muscles while developing stability of the pelvic lumbar region.
1) Start seated, then lean back, resting your weight on your forearms (bending your elbows behind your body, fingers facing forward). Begin with the knees bent, keeping the hips, knees & ankles all in line and chest proud.
2) Stabilise the pelvis as you float one leg to 90 degrees then the other, whilst engaging the belly button towards the spine.
3) Extend the left leg & bring your right knee into a ‘passé position’ by pointing your right foot and pressing the inside edge of your right foot along the inside of your left knee.
4) Draw your abs in tight as you lower the shape down to challenge and then back up towards the chest (maintaining passé position). Repeat 8 times and then switch legs.
Try to do 8 reps on each side, for up to 2 sets. These can be done in turn out or a parallel leg.
Remember to always workout to your fitness level, always listen to your body, take breaks when needed and drink plenty of water.
Please feel free to modify any of the exercises by doing fewer reps or taking the movement through a smaller range of motion. It’s always better to do fewer repetitions correctly and focus on correct form and alignment.
Lastly, make sure you take time to stretch the worked muscles at the end of each session. Whether you are taking a class at the studio or doing it at home, it is important to bring the heart rate down and release tension in the muscles.
About Nicole de Souza - Nicole is a Teacher Trainer for Xtend Barre and is a founding member of the Xtend Barre London Instructor team, having been the 1st person to teach here in the UK over 6 years ago. This mum of 3 loves nothing more than to motivate and inspire her clients to be the best possible version of themselves. Come and meet Nicole & the Xtend Barre team at the Balance Festival.