Our fascination with Barre: Ballet’s cultural moment in the fitness industry

barre fitness classes

After dancing with Diana Ross one night to Upside Down and leaving the stage with a standing ovation, I decide I needed to take dance lessons.  So I signed up for a ballet class at my university.

Ballet class was brutal.  Class would start with “ballet pushups.” What sounded relatively easy at first was physically exhausting.   You start by doing a single pushup, stand up, and then jump into the air.  Then we did two pushups all the way up to 10 and then back down to one. By the time I got the 110th pushup I was exhausted but we were just getting started.

It is still to this day the hardest group fitness class I’ve taken.

It’s why I was so interested to read Chloe Angyal, Front Page Editor, The Huffington Post, article on barre classes.  Ms. Angyal has published an insightful and well researched piece on the cultural impact ballet has had on the fitness industry and how it’s played off of our own body image insecurities.  The piece is titled How Fitness Culture Enlisted Ballerinas To Profit Off Our Insecurities  From athleisure to barre classes, ballet is having a mainstream cultural moment. But what is it we’re really being sold?

Here’s how it begins:

“It’s 5 p.m. on a Wednesday, and the exercise studio is starting to fill up. Participants are filtering in, each of them claiming a place at the ballet barres that are bolted to floor-to-ceiling mirrors along every wall. There’s not a leotard or a pair of tights in sight; everyone’s wearing running leggings and t-shirts. Their hair is in ponytails, not stiff ballet buns. And the music that soon starts pumping through the speakers is not classical piano, but pulsating EDM and Rihanna remixes. This looks like a ballet studio, but there’ll be no ballet happening here today. Welcome to barre class.”

Ms. Angyal’s piece is a great read that I highly recommend.

Image Credit: Business Insider

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