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I might be a little biased, but I think barre classes are one of the best types of cross training a runner can find! Barre studios are popping up all over the United States and the world, and many gyms offer barre-type classes as part of their group fitness repertoire. As a certified Barre3 instructor, I’ve been taking classes for about 2 years and teaching for 6 months. Barre has totally changed my running, my fitness and my overall health! Here are my top 5 reasons to try a barre class:
1. Get a great workout without the impact: Running can be hard on our bodies, and it is generally recommended that our cross training activities be low-or-no impact to help protect the joints. Barre is generally no impact; there’s no jumping or plyometrics. Depending on the studio you choose, you can still get a great strengthening and heart-pumping workout while keeping your feet on the ground!
2. It’s a 60-minute core workout: We hear it all the time: “Work on your core strength to become a better runner!” But how many of us actually commit to doing the core exercises we should? Classes focus on core strength throughout the class, helping keep your abs, low back, hips and glutes working the entire time. Mile 22 “marathon lean?” Not after a few months in a barre studio!
3. Improve your flexibility: Many barre classes focus on working a muscle group and stretching those muscles before moving on to the next muscle group. The class ends with a period of stretches. Not only do these stretching periods provide great relief after working your muscles so hard, they also force us to stretch—something many runners don’t make time to do. I’ve seen a huge improvement in my hamstring and inner thigh flexibility since starting barre.
4. Learn your strength: The shaking muscles experienced in a barre class as you push yourself to your limit can be scary at first, but once you get over the shock, there is nothing more exhilarating than realizing you are stronger than you think. I’ve learned to push myself harder in running because my mind has become stronger by powering through tough workouts in the studio. Now I know that even if my legs feel like they’re going to give out during a speed work session, they won’t—after all, I’ve survived the shakes and quakes in class more than once!
5. Strengthen all your muscles: As runners, it is sometimes easy to forget our upper bodies, backs and a core. A barre class works each part of the body and uses high repetitions and light weights to fatigue the muscles. There’s no heavy lifting here, so it is a great workout for people with back problems or other injuries that may limit mobility. Over time, you’ll see your muscles lengthen and tone in ways you never thought possible—all without the strain.
I’ve found barre to be the perfect complement to running; working on one makes me stronger in the other! While running will always be my first love, barre is definitely a close second. See you in the studio!
Related: Five Favorite Core Moves For Runners