Ballet barre workout: moves to try at home
Ballet barre is the workout taking the world by storm. The hybrid exercise – which combines dance, Pilates, yoga and strength training – strengthens and tones your body, while perfecting your posture.
One woman spreading the word of ballet barre is Nathalie Errandonea-Mewes. The founder of NRG Barrebody in North London is inspiring people to give this exercise a go – including the Liz Earle Wellbeing team!
“It’s just an amazing full-body workout,” explains Nathalie. “It’s got everything – the dance moves, the cardio, the weight work, the Pilates, the yoga stretches, plus a whole lot of fun.
“As an instructor, I’ve noticed most women love to be challenged and pushed to their limit. And you don’t need a dancing background, just a will to work out and get fit and a positive attitude.”
Here Nathalie explains her favourite ballet barre exercises you can try at home.
Nathalie’s top five ballet barre exercises
Pliés are a great way to warm up your leg muscles.
- Start in second position (legs apart, wider than your hips, with your toes pointing outwards.
- Bend your knees, making sure they stay above your toes and your heels remains on the floor.
- Keep your pelvis in a neutral position, tummy held in and shoulders above your hips. Make sure your bottom doesn’t stick out as you bend.
- Open both arms out to the side with a soft bend in the elbows (this is second position).
- Bend and straighten your legs, aiming to repeat up to 30 times.
TOP TIP: Breathe evenly without holding your breath.
The tendu toner
Transition from plié to tendu and tone up your calves, thighs and glutes! This exercise also stretches your back while working your arms.
- Start in first position (heels touching together, toes pointing outwards).
- Bend your knees, once again making sure they’re above the toes, with your heels remaining on the floor.
- Have your arms in first position (imagine you’re holding a beach ball in front of you).
- Slide your right leg out into a tendu, so your toe touches the floor with your leg straight.
- Straighten your left leg at the same time, while leaning your body over to the left slightly.
- As you straighten your legs, lift your right arm above your head and lower your left arm to just above your left thigh.
- Feel the stretch all the way up the right-hand side of your body and then come back to your starting position.
- Aim to repeat up to 30 times on both sides.
TOP TIP: Keep your pelvis in neutral position, tummy held in, with your back as straight as you can. Breathe evenly.
Battement in arabesque
This exercise is great for glutes and toning up your bottom, as well as working your arms.
- Start on all fours on a mat with your shoulders above your wrists, hips over knees. Ensure your back is straight (imagine you’re holding a tray of drinks on it).
- Keep your tummy held in and core engaged.
- Straighten and lengthen your right leg, and point your toes as much as possible. Your leg should feel like a straight arrow behind you – this is the battement arabesque position.
- Then come back to all fours.
- Aim to repeat this move 30 times on each side.
TOP TIP: Keep your tummy held in and shoulders relaxed, breathing evenly.
Passé (out) on the floor
This move is great for abdominals, shoulders and legs.
- Start on the mat on your back, propped up on your elbows, making sure your shoulders are above your elbows and your head is held high – keep lots of space between your shoulder and ears!
- Bring your legs to a 45° angle position (or a little bit closer to you to make it easier).
- Bring one leg into passé (this is where one leg is bent to the side, with the toes touching the inside of your other leg).
- Lower your legs towards the floor, maintaining this passe position.
- Engage your lower abdominals, making sure you’re not arching your lower back. As soon as it feels too much for your lower back, life your legs back to the starting position.
- Aim to repeat up to 30 times on each side.
TOP TIP: Keep your shoulders down, head high and core engaged. Breathe evenly throughout.
We love this move – it challenges both legs at the same time.
- Start in a curtsy position (one foot on the floor with toes pointing outwards and the other foot behind you with your toes resting on the floor. Have your knees slightly bent).
- Have your arms down by your sides, but slightly round them.
- From this curtsy position, push your toes into the floor as your straighten your front leg and bring the back leg into a passé position (as in previous exercise).
- Raise your arms above your head as you come into the passé.
- Bend your legs, lower your arms and come back into the curtsy.
- Aim to repeat this up to 30 times on each side.
TOP TIP: Keep a neat posture, making sure your core is engaged, tummy held in and your arms supported. Keep your balance and breathe evenly.
Read more exercise articles
5 helpful yoga exercises to reduce anxiety