Core Barre

Monica Hoekstra
Year Released: 2012

Categories: Balance/Medicine/Mini/Stability Ball, Ballet/Barre

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I’ve been shifting my fitness focus to “kinder, gentler” workouts, so it was with a great deal of excitement that I tried Core Barre. The warm-up begins with alternating high knees and opposite arms, then weight shifts from side to side with a step-tap. Then we pick up toning balls for bicep curls, chest presses, and lateral pull-downs. After the warm-up, we do stationery lunge stretches and overhead arm stretches. A good beginning.

The music and the instructor were both quiet and gentle, the studio was bright, and some of the comments made me laugh out loud (unintentionally!) When she said “Keep your head on top of your shoulders”, I laughed and thanked her, because I was getting ready to set it down on the floor, LOL! (JK!). One thing that bugged me is that she didn’t mirror cue. Also, the workout is not chaptered (which I learned the hard way); you just hit play workout and go through the entire thing. I didn’t like that, either.

Next up is the “barre series” – stand in first position with a playground ball between our thighs and one hand on the barre/chair, we do several plies (which I felt in my calves) and tucks (which I felt in my abs!) Moving to the other side, other hand on barre, we change to second position plies, then we do standing stretches. I liked doing a different exercise on the other side of the barre; it was still balanced as both legs worked on both sides of the barre. The “glute series” was next: standing with one knee bent, foot pointed to back wall, we do donkey kicks, heel presses, and hip extenders; then we stretch and move to the other side. Next are rear leg lifts, front leg lifts, then a series of plies in 1st and 2nd positions, both with and without releves. The last move was a fifth-position leg lift, which felt weird to me. This was followed by a nice stretch. I really liked how we stretched as we went along; I needed it!

At the 30-minute mark, we move to the floor for the “mat series”. It was here that I got called away for a moment and turned off the DVD. When I came back, I discovered the DVD was not chaptered, and I had to fast-forward all the way to where I was. I don’t know why she didn’t chapter the DVD; it would have been so easy (because she does “fade out” in between “series.”) I think it’s inexcusable not to chapter a workout like this, especially with the technology available. Anyway, the mat series consists of push-ups, tricep dips, planks, cobra, down-dog, and side planks. The “ab series” on the mat uses the playground ball, and the movements are “C-curve” sit-ups, seated crunches, rotations, and seated bicep curls with the toning balls. Then we move to the prone position, where we do crunches with our arms extended gracefully outward, oblique twists, and plies to the ceiling (aka “froggers.”) Flip on our sides for inner and outer thigh work, then onto our stomachs for the “back extension series” – slow, then fast swimming movements. Finally, another very nice stretch.

I really enjoyed this workout!! It was gentle, yet very effective. I wish she would have mirrored-cued, but I can get over that. I wish she would have chaptered the workout; I find that harder to get over.

Debbie J


EQUIPMENT NEEDED: a mat, a barre (or stable surface), light weights, small inflated ball

--WARM-UP (3:25 min.): begins with typical LB knee lifts w/ arm movements, arch/round spine, a weight-shifting mini plie' (toe taps), side stretches
--ARMS (7:25 min.): they use small weighted balls, but I used regular weights with no problem. Hoekstra coaches us to focus on the esentric contraction. Nice variety, hits the biceps, back, shoulders, triceps.
--THIGHS (10:25): I'm not a huge fan of barre thighs, so I wasn't surprised to dislike this section, but it's your typical barre stuff. Standing at the barre, gripping a Fitball between the thighs. There are different thigh variations: diamond thighs (on toes, heels together, plie), parallel thighs (on toes), wide stanced plie. For each position, there are different movements (pulse, pelvic tilts, pressing thighs back, etc) and are accompanied by ballet arm positions.
--GLUTES (~10 min): Also at the barre, reminds me a lot of Bar Method seat work but includes variations on familiar moves (standing leg abduction to the side with a bend and straighten, then an adduction toward the body). There's also attitude lifts to the rear, a little plie-releve set in 1st, 2nd position, then passe'.
--MAT SERIES (30 min total): the first 5 minutes are spent in pushups, triceps pushups, plank, down dog, side plank. Then you spend 17 min. using that little squishy ball in a myriad of ways to torture your abs. We get c-curve with the ball b/t the thighs, Barre3 type moves with the ball behind the small of the back, moves with the ball under the shoulder blades (a la Bender ball?), then under the butt for movements with the legs in the air. Then you flip to your side and put the ball under your ribs for quick abs and side-lying leg work.
--STRETCH (8 min): Back extensions and basic stretches.

--The delivery is dry, but reminds me of Burr Leonard in mannerisms (but Burr does a better idea at getting you into the proper position for standing thigh work).
--The TRANSISTIONS between segments are terrible. They fade to black sometimes DURING the final rep and picks right up ready to begin the next segment (which sometimes requires an equipment change and you're rushed).

Overall, I liked it... but I don't know if I will use it too often. The arms segment was really good (for a barre dvd). I thought it was quite different than the typical barre arms (a lot into the upper back and biceps). I am sore today from using it yesterday. The mat segment was also different and varied (and I love the multiple uses of the ball) BUT the dvd isn't chaptered, so if you want to just do the 30 min. mat segment, you have to fast-forward.