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The only time running qualifies as performance dance is when our jam comes on and we start kicking our feet out to the music on a crowded street. But runners have more in common with ballerinas than you might expect. We both require good core strength, posture, balance, endurance and mobility. Perhaps that’s why barre workouts are gaining traction among runners and fitness lovers everywhere. These workouts use a ballet barre to emulate a dancer’s warmup. They are more popular than ever, with 350 studios from one franchise alone, Pure Barre, now operating in the United States and Canada.
While many people opt to take classes in a studio, this mini version of a workout doesn’t require equipment and can be done almost anywhere. The following exercises are especially helpful for runners and will balance out the strength running builds in our quads, hamstrings and calves. This workout focuses on the inner and outer thighs, and the glutes and hips—areas that are often weak in runners—and the small, precise movements help to strengthen joints.
Targeted exercises are intended to stress your muscles to fatigue, so attempt to do them (especially the thigh and seat exercises) until you feel a shaking or burning sensation. Try it out on a day when you don’t have a tough run, so your legs won’t be too fried—either for the barre workout or your miles.
In a studio, a ballet barre would be used for a support, so use a sturdy chair or a high countertop to do these exercises at home. The support is just for a little bit of balance, so if your chair is moving around, you are relying on it more than you should. Think about stabilizing from your core and using your thighs and seat to hold you up. You can even try taking one or both hands off the support for a second to see if you can continue without falling. If you don’t have a support, just lightly place one or both hands on a wall. Socks with sticky bottoms are also ideal, but you can wear regular socks.
Pure Barre is known for its energetic mixes. Use these in order with each of the exercises—the final track is a cool-down song.
“Alive” by Sia
“Temptation” by Still Young
“Good Intentions” by The Chainsmokers
“Close to Your Love” by AtellaGali
“Louder” by Paul van Dyk
“Fiesta Remix” by Bomba Estéreo
“Running Out” by Matoma
Shalisa Pouw is a senior master teacher trainer for Pure Barre and owns a studio in Boulder, Colo. She has run the Bolder Boulder 10K and works with a number of runners and triathletes. Photography by Kelly Shroads