Barre: where strength meets grace

I still remember my very first barre class. A friend invited me, and even though I had never heard of barre fitness before (this was 2009 and barre was still very new to the fitness scene at large), the class description sounded interesting. 

To be fair, “interesting” is a very subjective and relative term. Allow me to elaborate on what I deemed “interesting” about it … 

  • It didn’t take place in a traditional gym setting
  • It didn’t sound like I would sweat buckets and leave exhausted
  • Elements of classic & modern dance were involved
  • Classes were free during the studio’s opening weekend

(Admittedly, my past self was a bit of a cheapskate bargain hunter. I still love finding a good deal, but I’ve since learned the value of investing in myself.)

I didn’t have any real dance background, but I enjoyed dance and gymnastics growing up. I loved musical theater and would accompany my mom to the occasional aerobics class in the church gym. 

Spoiler alert — you don’t have to have any dance background to take a barre class. It’s not a dance class at all. Barre fitness is loosely based on dance modalities and, given my childhood hobbies, that thought appealed to me.

All that to say, I showed up to my first barre class not really knowing what to expect. But it was a class I wouldn’t soon forget. 

First Class Memories

I remember laughing at myself when my thighs began to tremble. 

I remember just how freaking amazing pigeon hip stretch felt the first time we were guided into it. 

I remember loving the energy from the music during class and how the entire atmosphere shifted with the music during the cool down at the end.

And I very distinctly remember feeling strong, capable, and graceful all at the same time. 

It’s been well over a decade since that first barre class, but the concept of strength meeting grace has yet to be lost on me. 

Whether I’m taking a class as a student, teaching group classes, or leading instructor trainings, barre fitness still carries with it the grit of targeted strength building, but with an air of graceful artistry. 

Sort of like a badass ballerina. 

But not. 😉 

And there’s so much more to it than that …

The Mechanics of Strength & Grace

What elements make barre this kind of movement practice where strength meets grace? 

Some of these insights are unique to the BarreAmped® method specifically. Others are applicable to the modality of barre fitness as a whole. 

We’ll start with the strength portion. 


>>Barre utilizes bodyweight and small props or equipment, making it super accessible for any body or fitness level. 

>>Body awareness and alignment are a massive focus, making the strength work that much more effective and lessening the risk for injury. This is a foundation principle of BarreAmped®. 

>>Type I (endurance) muscle fibers are targeted with light weight and high repetition. Postural muscles benefit greatly from this type of work. 

>>The BarreAmped® tagline is #shaketochange … and you will definitely feel the burn in your muscles when they begin to shake and tremble. This means they’re changing! 

>>Clients report all manner of strength gains in their daily life — they’re able to haul in more bags of groceries in one trip, carry their toddlers with more ease, and have more stamina for the fun activities that make their life enjoyable (like hiking nature trails or walking on the beach while on vacation). 


>>The emphasis on body awareness and alignment in positions provides that graceful sense of “dancer’s posture.”

>>Transitioning with intention from one position to the next during class creates a more seamless experience. 

>>Breath work is incorporated throughout BarreAmped® classes and is another foundational principle of the method. This keeps your head clear during hard work. No need to get all huffy and weird. (Bonus points if you know that TV show reference.)

>>We work WITH the nervous system in a variety of ways, one of which is prioritizing warm-ups and cool downs. This means you leave class feeling balanced and refreshed. 

>>Active & dynamic stretches, whether incorporated into working postures or paired with focused breath work during rests, are part of the balanced approach to movement in barre fitness. 

Our bodies are capable of so much more than we might give them credit for. That includes what we can do as well as how we feel as we’re doing it. 

After all these years, I’ve still not lost the sense of grace and strength that I feel when I step up to the barre for class. 

I hope you find that same quality of movement in your barre classes. If you’d like some guidance, check out the BarreAmped® training program or coaching options for barre instructors. 

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