I’m Fabletics Master, Keely Ahrold. I’ve not only taught Barre for some time now, but I have also been dancing for more years than I can remember. To say the least, the barre is a familiar place for me. I am here to share some of my favorite and most beneficial barre exercises to get you moving.
Lets Start from the ground up: Calves/Quads/HamstringThe French term, relevé, means “lifted” or “to elevate”. Some may know this exercise as a calf-raise, but it’s not just the lower leg we are after–we want to ignite the whole leg!Keeping the legs straight in first position (externally rotate the legs keeping the heels together toes apart), slightly tuck your tail, elongate the neck, and engage the core. Press up onto the balls of the feet, lifting the heels off the ground. As you do this, constantly pull up on the kneecaps, engaging the quadriceps. At the very top of the lift you should feel your quads, calves and even your glutes working. Try 3 sets of 15.
Once you have mastered the first position heel raise, try the next set with parallel feet. Stand hip-width apart, keeping the weight over the second and third toes. For the final set, position your feet turned in or pigeon-footed, toes in and heels apart. Keep the same posture mentioned above for the entire duration.
It’s all about those Glutes: Grande plié or “big bend” aux Francais. The key is to keep the legs turned out over the toes the whole time as you fire up the glutes in an external rotation. Maintain that strength as you use your quads to reach your legs straight.Starting in a turned out second position, feet are about 3 feet apart with the heels pointed to one another and the toes pointing outward. Keeping the weight equally through both feet, bend deeply into your legs, reaching to a 90-degree angle in both knees. Keep the knees turned out over the toes, engaging the glutes as you do so. Your chest is still lifted and shoulders are pulled back with everything in line over your hips (you should feel like you are sliding down a wall). You will also feel the hamstrings stabilize your legs as you are in the plié. Press through your feet to straighten your legs, engaging the quads at the top. Try 3 sets of 10, making sure to bend and straighten to your full extension.
When you’ve mastered the grande plié, try to hold the bend at the bottom for 5 seconds then press up to straight legs. Add another set of 10 with that 5 second hold.
Reach for the sky: One of the most freeing moves in any ballet or barre class is the grande battement. It translates to “big beat,” and it stands true to its meaning! The key is to press both legs straight, working from the hips and inner thigh, contracting through the core.Start in a turned out lunge with the right foot in back. The right leg never bends while the left leg presses and straightens. As you press through the first position and begin to lift the foot off the ground, point your toe like your life depends on it! Let the right leg sail upward right in front of the nose and slowly bring it back down, keeping the body lifted and upright with turned out legs the entire time. Your abdominal muscles will help the leg fall gracefully back down to the starting position. Try one set of 20 on each side.
You’ve now mastered the grande battement to the front. Now try the exercise to the side, right off of your shoulder. If you were in a box, your leg would be pointing to the front corner of this box. All the same rules apply– keep the turnout, body posture, core activation, and the two straight legs! Add another set of 20 on each side.
See you at the barre!
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