3 Tips For Teaching Barre

3 Tips For Teaching Barre

1.Stepping up to the barre

The Barre is supposed to represent a gentleman’s arm for gentle support. All too often people are grabbing the barre for dear life in an attempt to stay strong. The height of the Barre may be contributing factor here. It should reach the elbow.  Higher and there is a tendency to grab, lower and it feels like there is no support at all. So, there again the grab. Of course, you can’t provide an individual barre for everyone of different heights, but explaining this each class will allow students to understand how lightly the grip should be.

2. 10 tutus!

Unless you have been trained in Ballet from a very young age, your foot “turn-out” in first or second position is unlikely to be that of a Prima ballerina. In fact, in barre exercise classes we would recommend that the toes point to ten-minutes-to-two maximum This is nowhere near the 1st position in Ballet turn out.  This will protect your knees, but more importantly, it will direct the work into the adductors (inner thighs) and the glutes (butt). See the accompanying video

3. Grace is amazing

A lack of local stabilisation will lead to a misuse of the global muscles, which will Burn Baby Burn ( sorry). When the intrinsic (core) muscles are not in a position to function efficiently, then the superficial (global) muscles take over and this causes further lack of efficiency. It’s a catch 22, overuse the big muscles means –  underuse of core muscles means –  overuse of big muscles. . . and on and on.
What this means in training terms is that the continued overuse of global muscles to the point of the constant burn will contribute to a loss of the of a good controlled eccentric contraction- which is exactly WHY they are doing Barre in the first place.  This elongated contraction in the muscle is what makes this form of exercise unique – creating a longer leaner version of muscle. So, make sure to give your students constant axial elongation references, releve/demi-plie repetition rests to keep the legs working, but not burning, and constantly apply the neutral spine principals and proper breathing to get the global muscles supported by the local core stabilisers. Keep cuing gracefulness, ease, flow and elongation.


About the author: Susan Church

Susan Church

With a personal practice of 20 years and with many years of extensive teaching practice, Susan brings a wealth of knowledge her students. After a decade of dance training, Susan Church studied Theatre at TCD in the late 1980’s and dance with the National Theatre Institute in Connecticut U.S.A. It was during this time that she received her first yoga training, along with Laban, Alexander method and many other forms of dance and movement. Although, she eventually left the arts, she remained committed to yoga and Pilates. In 1999 she completed her first yoga teacher training and one year later she qualified as a Pilates Instructor and massage therapist. She has completed teacher training courses and equipment certificates along with hundreds of master classes and workshops in Pilates and Yoga. Some schools attended are YTTC, Bodyfirm, Body Control, Stott, Balanced Body and Powerhouse.

The elbowroom has an extensive range of classes for all ages and abilities. We offer such an eclectic mix to enable you to find something that will suit you. If you need any advice, please contact our class advisor who can point you in the right direction.