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Ballet bars can be great tool to tone body

Experts say a ballet bar can be a fabulous tool to tone.

February 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
It's "happy hour" for fitness fans, bellying up to a different kind of bar to get results. So we did a little bar-hopping to see who's "raising the bar" on these type of workouts, starting with Cardio Barre.

"I can't tell you how wonderful it is," said Nancy Montgomery, owner of the Eagle Rock Cardio Barre. "It's empowering, strengthening. We have women who have all kinds of complaints, and I can't say there isn't one that wouldn't benefit from Cardio Barre."

Montgomery says this workout reveals what ballerinas have known for years: A ballet bar can be a fabulous tool to tone.

"You're getting deep into the muscles, so every single muscle gets a workout. Your core gets a lot stronger," said Montgomery. "Every single muscle gets touched in the workout in the one hour."

Cardio-wise it's not the up, up, down, down of step or pounding power moves of boot camp.

"We're doing interval cardio, but your heart rate goes up from the minute you start the class because everything is slightly, the pace is a little bit faster than any kind of other bar class," said Montgomery.

It is faster, which was enjoyable and took away that pent-up tension you'll find in some bar workouts that push the muscle to failure by holding a position for an inordinate amount of time.

"It really works and it's just an hour out of my day," said Cardio Barre student Tami Heide.

The intention of most bar workouts is to really tweak those muscles, both major and minor. So in some classes, they actually try to mix it up a little bit and really shake it up with cardio, such as the Booty Barre Workout in South Pasadena.

"We're going to do a lot of isometric moves, but in order to continue to use those muscles more efficiently you need to break it up," said Tracey Mallet, Booty Barre Workout creator. "So I like to do some cardio moves. I take them away from the bars, we do some interval training away from the bar, then we get back onto the bar and we do a lot of fluid movements just to break up the isometric contractions of a lot of bar-type exercises."

For those who want a more intense isometric program, check out Physique 57 in Beverly Hills, Pure Barre in Brentwood, as well as the original Bar Method with franchises all over the Southland.