No matter the workout of choice, it’s important to set your body up for success with a proper pre-exercise warm-up. Experts agree a warm-up should heat and loosen the body, and prepare the mind for action. But there’s also some moves to actually avoid.
Although most of your barre class is developed to be performed by focusing on a singular muscle group, your warm-up is different. Think of your warm-up as a dynamic approach of getting your joints moving one at a time, then all together, to take the body through progressive movements that loosen and stretch your muscles.
If you are habitually running late to class, perform a quick set of knee lifts with arm presses by your car or in the lobby, or give yourself a goal of 25 jumping jacks. It’s important to wake up and warm-up the joints before you really get moving.
Next up is immediately warming the midsection. Your core actually contracts first in every exercise you do in class. We like to say you’re working your core for 55 minutes in class, not just the final 10! All the energy you exert starts in your midsection, and is then transferred to your limbs, which is why the first exercises performed in our warm-ups are centered around your core.
Follow this up with dynamic stretching exercises that focus on stability and mobility, like push ups and planks. You want to focus on getting your body ‘practicing’ positions you may perform later at a more intense state. (For barre, translate this into proper posture and alignment in each warm-up exercise, so that you’ll be able to perform the same posture and alignment in other sections of class later.) The added focus on strengthening the core with these specific exercises performed in the warm-up first, allows you to perform the other moves in your workout later with more intensity and better attention to form, to get more out of them.
Dynamic stretching is also focused on continual movement to begin to loosen the muscles, so you can improve your range of motion during your workout (See, you really can sink another inch lower in thighs!)
Lastly, focus on building up your heart rate throughout your warm-up. Getting your heart pumping warms up your muscles, and switches on your nervous system for peak output during class. Just make sure the warm-up doesn’t fatigue you, so listen to your own body’s cues and remember every day is different.
So what not to do? Reserve your static stretching for the cool down (holding a pose for 10 seconds or longer, without movement). This can actually hinder your performance and increase your risk for injury. Research shows static stretching will likely leave you less able to move quickly and on command come workout time, impairing your strength performance.
What’s your favorite dynamic warm-up move? Let us know here, or comment on our social media posts about this warm-up blog post, through your local Neighborhood Barre’s social media handles. You never know when your requested move may make the cut next warm-up!