What to Expect at Your First Barre Class
Fitness trends are constantly changing. From pilates to cycling, there's always something new to try. One workout that is quickly gaining popularity is barre.
Barre is a workout that combines elements of pilates, ballet, and isometric movements. Majority of classes are around one hour long, but it depends on the type of class and the studio.
For those of you who have been thinking about trying barre (which I imagine you are because you're reading a post titled "What to Expect at Your First Barre Class"), absolutely do it. You'll never know if you like it if you don't at least go to one class to find out. If you know me, you'll know that I am a barre addict. It's the best workout I've found for me personally, and I go everyday (unless I'm out of town). You can read more about why I'm obsessed with barre by clicking here.
Trying a new workout can be intimidating.
What do you wear?
What should you bring?
Can you handle it?
All of these questions are valid and natural. Before taking my first class, I had the same curiosities. Unlucky for me, I couldn't find a blog post or article about what I should expect from my first class...hence why I'm writing this for you.
WHAT TO WEAR
When you attend barre classes, it's helpful to wear fitted clothing so then the instructors can see your form and correct it as needed. If you're wearing a baggy t-shirt and sweatpants, it'll be a challenge to know if your hips are tucked up or if you're pulling your abs in. If you don't have the correct form during your classes, you won't get the proper workout or sculpt your body the way barre is designed to. Correct form is the foundation for barre.
What you'll typically see others wearing at barre classes are yoga leggings, a fitted tank top (with sports bra), and yoga socks. No shoes. Most people either wear capri, 3/4 length, or full-length leggings. I have never seen anyone wear shorts to a barre class before and I don't recommend being the first person at your studio to do so. If you don't have yoga socks (aka "sticky socks"), don't worry! Most studios have a small retail area where they sell them. I've seen socks range anywhere from $8 to $20 a pair, so just be prepared that they may be more than you expect--but they do last a long time. If you don't have yoga socks, just show up to your studio in regular socks. I typically go to my classes wearing workout leggings, a fitted tank, yoga socks, and gym shoes. Sometimes a light zip-up if it's cold (you can always take it off during class).
WHEN TO ARRIVE & WHAT TO EXPECT
Try to arrive 15-20 minutes before your first class. When you walk into the studio, look for a desk. More often than not, there will be an instructor or receptionist behind the desk checking people in for their classes. Simply walk up to the desk, introduce yourself, and mention that you're attending your first class. At that point, the receptionist/instructor will either check you in or hand you a sign in sheet for the class. You'll probably have to sign a waiver as well. It's at this point that they will most likely ask you if you have sticky/yoga socks. If you do, great. If you don't, they'll offer if you want to purchase theirs, or if you just want to wear your regular socks for your first class. Some studios may require you to purchase them as a requirement of attending the class.
Barre studios are pretty good about recognizing who is a member and who is not. That being said, don't feel embarrassed if when you walk in, one of the studio members notices you right away and introduces themselves. Most of the instructors teach quite a lot of classes, so they'll notice a fresh face. The receptionist or instructor may ask you if you have any injuries or difficulty with any body parts/motions; such as bad knees. They need to know in order to tell the instructor so you can modify certain movements in order to avoid injury or pain.
After you're all signed in and ready to go, an instructor or receptionist will guide you through a quick tour of the studio. You'll see parts of the studio like the retail center, cubbies to store your belongings in, bathrooms, locker rooms, other studio rooms, and any play rooms they have for kids of parents attending the classes. They will then guide you on what equipment you need for the class (which you should never have to purchase; it should be tied into the fee of the class). Typical equipment items are: a ball, weights, resistance band, tubing, and a mat. In speciality classes, you may use other equipment as well.
From there, your instructor or staff member will guide you to the studio. If the studio is open, head on in.
Before class begins, members will usually stretch out while they wait for the class to start. They will be near the ballet barre and will have their items close to them on the floor. Some instructors will set up their equipment in the front of the room in order to model how you will be starting and which items you will need. Feel free to introduce yourself to the other members. Like the instructors, members that come often will notice a fresh face as well. Again, don't be freaked out; it's normal.
When the class begins, the instructors will introduce themselves and typically thank you for coming to their class. Throughout the class, upbeat music will be playing and you'll be guided through different movements, isolations, and combinations. Most of the variations will be done in sets; abs, glutes, and arms are typically the three main target areas. Each studio is different, and depending on which type of class you take, the class will vary in terms of intensity and combinations. Therefore, I can unfortunately not give you insight into a typical routine of a class because they're all different.
During your class, you should be hitting those targeted areas I mentioned. Your instructor will come around and adjust your form for you. If you feel like you're not doing something right, simply wave your instructor over and ask about your form and movement. It's typical to be adjusted a lot in your first class, so don't feel intimated or picked on. They're correcting your form in order for you to get a better workout. If at any point during your class something hurts, ask the instructor how to modify it. It could be something as simple as dropping down to your quadriceps during a plank series, or during pushups at the barre.
There is oftentimes a lot of stretching during the class. After taking more classes, your flexibility improves. Be sure to push yourself a little bit, but only to your edge. If you can't lunge as low as the person next to you, don't worry, just do what feels good for you.
AT THE END
At the end of class, you'll be asked to wipe down your equipment and put it back. Sometimes you'll just put the equipment back and someone will clean everything before the next class. Just follow what others in your class are doing. After class, you may be approached by the instructor to talk about how you liked it and what you're feeling. Typically they'll compliment you on whatever you did right during the class and explain some of the corrections they made on your form. When you leave, be sure to thank your instructor and say goodbye to the receptionist. Barre studios have a friendly, personal atmosphere, so keeping with their politeness is part of studio respect in a sense.
THE NEXT DAY
Just as a warning, the next day you might feel sore. You might feel tightness in different muscles and need to do some addition stretching. Barre classes work out your muscle groups in various ways and utilize muscles you might not use daily.
Each barre studio is different, this is just my experience with studios and classes I have attended. I'm not an instructor or doctor, so please take all this information for what it is: my experience. This is simply what I have gone through at different studios and what a person can generally expect while attending their first class. As always consulting your doctor or instructor prior to attending your class is always a safe option. I hope you all attend a class if you want and I would love to hear about your experience! As always, if you have any questions, please let me know.