Terrific Technique for better Barre Classes

Dynamic, demanding, effective – we know what an impact Barre Attack can have because we see the results in our studio every day. As a barre instructor, you’ll know too just how much you get out of your Barre Attack training and the effect it has had on your body.

But for barre classes to really work and for it to help students reach their full potential and get the most out of a class, technique is crucial. Unfortunately – but understandably – technique can be the first thing to go when the going gets tough. A good barre instructor will be aware of this and on the alert to prompt clients when they begin to fatigue. Technique not only helps them do the exercise more effectively, it is one of the most important ways to avoid injury.

Here are three aspects of barre technique that all barre instructors should be mindful of:

  1. The eyes have it
    Whether your clients are pumping out a set of core climbers, going hell for leather with some reach and touch frog squats, or gearing up for the perfect lunge, their gaze will be a great indicator of whether they are properly aligned. Can they see their feet when they are planning or core climbing? Yes? Then move the gaze toward the finger tips. As one of our favourite Barre Attack instructors, Holly, always says “Trust me - your feet will still be there at the end, you don’t need to check on them!” Likewise, in a round of touch and reach squats, the eyes should never be directly down. If the back and shoulders are straight, then the gaze should only even be slightly forward as the hands touch the ground. And in any kind of standing exercises, eyes to the ground is a sure sign that those shoulders are going to start rounding so encourage your clients to keep their shoulders back and their eyes up.
  2. Shoulders are shoulders – not earrings!
    Our shoulders tend to creep up, the harder an exercise gets. Even though they can’t help with, say, a butt and ball series, it’s very common for clients to tense their shoulders in an effort to distribute the effort or burn of an exercise. As a barre instructor you need to be on the look out for shoulders inching up towards the ears – they have no business being there! Even when the arms are engaged in say, overhead tricep dips, the shoulders need to stay down and back to help the right muscles engage properly. And when your clients are using the bar for support, make sure they aren’t slumped over it so their shoulders get crunched up – ideally we use the barre for light support, not life support!
  3. Turn out burn out
    It’s easy for trained ballerinas to have a good turn out – they’ve been practicing it for years. But many of your clients won’t have a natural turn out. It’s good to remind them that turning your feet out really wide does not a good turn out make and can just end in pain. The main thing in, say, a plie position or when butterflying the legs, is to have the sense of wrapping the thighs back around the legs and pushing the knees back at the same time. The turn out must happen the whole way along the leg – not just at the ankle! It can be a tough one to maintain but is crucial for really getting into certain sections of the glutes and thighs.
Whether you’re shouting encouragement and direction to the whole class or giving a moment of individual guidance, helping your clients to maintain scrupulous technique in a barre class is essential. It can be one of the hardest things to maintain – especially when the muscles start to quiver with fatigue – and while your students might hate you for spotting their cheeky slouch or downcast eyes, in the long run they will love you for not letting them get away with it!