A Barre-Cardio-Core Class

by Portia Page on Jun 20, 2019

A full-body workout that requires just body weight and gravity.

When you take the strong, efficient movements of barre and mix in cardiovascular intensity and a comprehensive core routine, you get a winning combination for a full-body workout that appeals to a wide variety of people. Traditional barre classes use small, repetitive movements from a standing posture to work on balance while strengthening the lower body. Simultaneously, the upper body receives graceful range-of-motion benefits. These movements prepare the body to progress to more intense cardio work, and the core section challenges the center from all directions.

Barre-Cardio-Core Details

Format: total-body fusion

Total Time: 1 hour

Goal/Emphasis: to create balanced muscular development, efficient range of motion and integrated strength

Equipment: mats for floor exercises

Music: Play fun, energetic music throughout.

  • warmup and core sections: 125–130 beats per minute
  • cardio: 130–140 bpm
  • stretch/cooldown: 100–120 bpm

Additional tips:

  • Always show base move and then progress from there, giving students ownership of their workout.
  • Use the simple warmup to gauge basic starting patterns so you know how to regress or progress movements.
  • The cardiovascular/plyometric section is easily modifiable for individuals who aren’t comfortable with higher intensity.
  • Encourage rest periods and build “pause” times into transitions. Besides allowing rest, pauses let you set up the next movement pattern.

Warmup (10 minutes)

These traditional barre exercises are repeated at different tempos.

  • Second-position pliés (timing: 4/4, 2/2, 3/1, 1/1).
  • Port de bras, both directions; add on pliés, 4x each direction.
  • Step-tap side to side; add arm movements (one arm up, rotate, both arms up); 8 sets.
  • Forward-tilt lunge, right—arms open wide to sides—singles 8x, pulses 8x (arms overhead, 4 pulses; then by hips, 4 pulses); 4 sets.
  • Calf stretch: Tip torso over front thigh, then lower and lift back heel, moving arms up and down in opposition, 8x.
  • 90/90 lunge to forward-tilt lunge (hip-flexor dynamic stretch and glute activation; add complementary arm movements), 8x.
  • Hamstring stretch: Bend back knee, shift weight and straighten front leg. Circle back arm forward and around while dynamically stretching front leg, 8x.
  • Repeat from start, working left side instead of right, when called for.

  • First-position turnout: Tendu, flex, point, return R/L; 4–8 reps each side; 2–4 sets. (Pick up pace on second set.)
  • Roll-through: Plié, heel lift (knees bent), straighten legs (heels stay lifted), lower heels. Repeat 4x–8x, then reverse direction and repeat 4x–8x.

Cardio Phase (20 minutes)

  • First-position to second-position plié (step out, bend knee R); repeat 8x R, then 8x L; 4 R/L, 2 sets; 2 R/L, 4 sets; alternate 8x.
  • Step out R/L, plié, step in R/L, plié; 8 sets (finish with feet wide).
  • Plié internal rotation: From second position, internally rotate R side by lifting heel and turning L (looks like 90/90 lunge in middle of movement). Repeat 8x, each side.
  • Plié, singles, down and up: Repeat 8x–16x, finish down and pulse, 16–31 counts.
  • Pivot heel lift (back leg), land in plié, second face front; repeat 8x R, 8x L. Stay at this level if needed or repeat with back-leg lift R/L; repeat with back-leg lift and front-heel lift R/L; repeat above with back-leg lift and jump off front foot R/L.
  • First-position turned-out plié to relevé to jump: Plié, 8x; relevé, 8x; plié (3 pulses) to relevé, 8x; plié (3 pulses) to jump, 16x–32x.

Core Phase (20 minutes)

Keep the pelvis neutral in all movements and starting positions unless spinal or pelvic movement is indicated.

  • Standing roll-down to roll-up, 4–8 reps. On last rep, come to all fours.
  • Arm marching: Pick up one hand, replace it, repeat with other hand; 8 sets.
  • Cat-cow: spinal extension to flexion on all fours, 4–8 reps.
  • Tail wag: With knees in place, lift shin toward glutes and “wag” from side to side. Repeat 4x with leg only, then add spinal lateral flexion, 4x each leg.
  • All-fours pushup, 8x; add propulsion, 8x.
  • Opposite arm/leg reach (diagonal); repeat, alternating sides; 4 sets.
  • Mermaid sit (both legs face R in “Z” position). Side bend L, rotate R, hip lift L, sit front, hold. Repeat 8x, R.
  • Swing legs front, bring hands to back, lift hips to reverse tabletop, knees bent; 8 reps.
  • Mermaid sit, L, 8x. Roll onto back when done.
  • Alternating knee lifts, 8–16 sets (quick pace challenges lumbopelvic stability).
  • Abdominal curls 8x, then lift knees as upper body lifts (C crunch), 8x.
  • Bridge: Lift hips, articulate 4/4 count up/down, 4x, neutral bridge 2/2 count, 8x (finish with hips lifted).
  • Single-leg bridge with circles: Lift R leg to ceiling, circle 4x, each direction. Keep leg up and lower and lift hips, 8x. Hug knees to chest, and repeat, other side.
  • Side-lying leg-lift series: Lying on side, hips and legs stacked, feet flexed (head rests on bottom arm, top arm on floor in front of chest for support), do the following: top-leg lift, 8x (finish with leg lifted); bottom-leg lift, 8x (finish with both legs together and lifted); double-leg lift, 8x (roll to stomach when finished).
  • Prone work: single-leg kick, 8x each leg (elbows under shoulders); swan prep, 8x (upper-body lift, little to no pressure in hands); double-leg lift, 8x (head stays down); swan to swan dive and rocking, 4x–8x for each.
  • Repeat side-lying leg-lift series, other side. Roll to supine.
  • Ab series of five: Repeat 8 reps of the following: single-leg stretch; double-leg stretch; single straight-leg stretch; double straight-leg stretch; criss-cross.

For an exercise key and the cooldown, see “Sample Class: Barre-Cardio-Core” or the June 2019 print edition of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at 800-999-4332, ext. 7.

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About the Author

Portia Page

Portia Page IDEA Author/Presenter

Portia Page is a Master Instructor for Balanced Body® for all of their Pilates and Mindful Movement Programs, as well as the Education Program Liaison. She has been in the fitness industry for over 28 years and has served as a teacher, competitor, program director, instructor trainer and international presenter. A gold-certified Pilates teacher through Pilates Method Alliance®, Portia has been a master instructor for 24-Hour Fitness® and has helped develop and cultivate several new programs for their instructors as well as conducted trainings throughout the United States and abroad. Portia is also a US National Trainer for Les Mills for CXWORX® and BODYFLOW. Certifications: ACE and AFAA