Ballet- and Pilates-inspired workouts have become increasingly popular in recent years, with promises of building a strong core and developing long and lean muscles like those seen on ballet dancers. Burn at the Barre, created by a professional dancer, Pilates instructors and a chiropractor, makes the same promises but adds fat-burning cardio to its list of benefits.
The DVD begins with an introduction by the co-creators and a detailed explanation of safe positioning and proper alignment during various exercises. This section is invaluable for learning how to perform the exercises correctly and prevent injury. It also outlines the equipment required for the workout: a ballet bar, chair, mat, a mini-exercise ball and light dumbbells. It’s worth noting, however, that the exercises can be performed using a chair as a substitute for the bar, although some of the moves may feel slightly less stable.
The workout itself, which is about 60 minutes, starts out with a vigorous cardio warm-up. The video was shot in a relatively small room, which gives the cardio portion a somewhat cramped feeling. However, the camera angles are straight-forward and allow the viewer to really see how each exercise and modification is performed (unlike some DVDs, which favor production value over clarity). The remainder of the workout is divided into sections focusing on specific areas of the body—legs, glutes, upper body and abdominals—and concludes with a brief full-body stretch routine. Three variations—beginning, intermediate and advanced—are given throughout the entire workout; exercise selection is varied and the flow between exercises is smooth, and each section concludes with stretches for the muscles that were just targeted. The instructors provide countdowns for each exercise, which helps keep the viewer engaged and aware of how many repetitions remain. This is particularly important because the background music does not always provide appropriate beats per minute to keep the viewer in sync with the exercisers on the DVD.
Proper form is demonstrated and emphasized throughout the workout, although the advanced variation at times appears to rely on momentum to complete the challenging moves. Burn at the Barre delivers on its promise to increase heart rate and engage the entire body. While at times the workout feels a bit dated, with constant references to “feel the burn,” the instructors are engaging and do a good job of providing consistent motivation and clear cues for each exercise.
What we liked:
- Varied exercise selection and intervals provide a total-body workout that keeps the exerciser motivated and engaged
- Clear demonstration of exercises, along with instructions on proper form and preventing injury
- Three levels of each exercise are demonstrated: beginner, intermediate, advanced
What we didn’t like:
- Many of the advanced moves rely on momentum rather than controlled strength
- Music is often out of sync with exercise repetitions, making it challenging for viewers to keep in time with the instructor
July 23, 2012