Remember that the next time you’re grimacing through your 100th relevé of the day!
Ballet barre class is a mix of pliés, relevés, pilates moves and more core work than you ever thought possible, all set to upbeat music. While the moves are small, they are very precise and after a full barre class, you’re likely to be sore in places you never even knew you had muscles. Well, it turns out you’re not just tightening your tummy — barre classes can also make you happier.
Here are six ways that barre class can improve your life:
1. Exercise releases feel-good hormones.
When you exercise your body produces endorphins, serotonin and norepinephrine, which are responsible for the awesome feeling you get post-workout. (You know, the one you wish you could bottle up to drink the next time you’re tempted to skip a workout?) Endorphins are considered your body’s natural painkillers and are actually structurally similar to morphine. Low levels of serotonin and norepinephrine have been linked to depression in studies.
2. Barre class is creative.
“The upbeat, creative atmosphere of barre trumps the often mundane task of going to the gym and performing the same routine over and over and over,” says Dion Christine Leonhard, professional barre instructor in Lake Mary, Florida. “A good barre class is always evolving, always shifting, never the same with a focus of creating a new, exciting challenge each and every time,” Leonhard says. “People are always happy when they’re creating something!” Several studies back this hypothesis up: listening to music and dancing have been proven to lower stress levels and reduce depression.
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3. You’ll focus on your body for an hour — and forget everything else.
With its small, precise movements and focus on proper alignment and breathing techniques, barre requires intense concentration. “The barre is the place where for an hour, you can forget everything else and release any and all frustrations,” says Leonhard. “You’ll emerge refreshed, rejuvenated, energized and ready to conquer the world!” When you get caught up in the flow of the moment and are truly present, you’re happier, studies show.
4. You’ll build confidence.
Barre class pushes you out of your comfort zone and gets you to move your body in new ways. “There is a constant flow of inner dialogue, ‘Is my tailbone reaching for the floor?’ or ‘Is my core activated?’” Says Leonhard. How does this contribute to happiness? “If your focus during day to day life is stronger, you can give yourself full permission to completely relax and chill at the end of a long day,” she says. And when you accomplish something physically you couldn’t have even three weeks ago or thought you never could, that’s an immediate confidence boost, as studies bear out.
5. Your body will look and feel amazing!
Barre exercises help to strengthen, lengthen and tone your muscles. No surprise here – when you’re healthier and it shows, you naturally feel happier, too!
6. It might just make you smarter.
Giselle M. Petzinger, MD, assistant professor at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a neurologist at Keck Medicine of USC specializing in the care of patients with Parkinson’s disease, is studying the effects that skill-based exercise and socialization have on mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and executive function (EF). She hypothesizes that activities involving balance, eye-hand coordination, leg-arm coordination, reaction time to moving objects/persons and dynamic gait (such as barre) combined with a minimum of three hours spent with friends or family a week will help improve EF and may even reverse MCI. So not only will you feel happier, you might feel sharper, too.
Schedule a visit with your primary care physician to discuss optimal workout levels and healthy diets to go with your barre routine.
If you are in the Los Angeles area and are looking for exceptional care from some of the top physicians in the world, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment.
By Anne Fritz