7 Common Barre Mistakes Beginners Make

For people who want to get a long, lean dancer bodies or simply switch up their workout routine, a barre class can be alluring. A hybrid of ballet conditioning, toning, stretching, and more, barre rely on small, isometric movements to sculpt and lengthen muscles. If you're ready to give it a try and take your first class, you might want to know the beginner barre mistakes everyone makes so that you get as much out of the class as you can.

Barre-centric studios have popped up in cities across the country as more and more people take an interest in this low-impact workout style. Just because classes are low-impact, however, doesn't mean you won't get a good workout. You'd be surprised how effective the classes are — and how tired they'll make you. That's because the low-impact moves provide maximum toning potential without all the pain, which is what keeps people returning. Of course, if you're making a serious change to your fitness routine, you have an injury or health condition, or you're pregnant, you should talk to your doctor before heading to barre to make sure that everything is OK. Once you're good to go, keep these common mistakes in mind so that you have the best first barre class you possibly can.


They Lock Their Knees And Grip The Barre

There can be brief moments of panic while your body adjusts to doing things you're not used to, causing you to grip the bar. Unfortunately, as barre instructor Julie Cangialosi tells Romper in an interview, this is a huge mistake. Cangialosi says she instructs her clients to "karate chop" the barre, making it impossible for them to grip too tightly and put unnecessary pressure on their shoulders.

Additionally, when working one leg at a time while standing, many newcomers tend to lock that knee on the standing leg, barre instructor Gisela Bouvier tells Romper in an email exchange. Be careful not to lock your knee, as that can cause injury. Not good.


Their Movements Are Too Big

Barre is all about teeny tiny movements. For some people, especially those used to running or weight lifting, that can be a bit of an adjustment. "One common misconception is clients think they need to make big movements, but it's really the tiny movements that bring your muscles to fatigue," Pure Barre DC instructor Brianna Ryan tells Romper by email. "The smaller the better."


They Try To Copy The Instructor Exactly

If your instructor is working out alongside you, it can be tempting to mimic her movements exactly. Although you likely want to emulate the basic principles of her movements, you don't need to push yourself to be identical. "I go full range of motion on pliés, dipping all the way down to my ankles. However, that depth would be inappropriate for students with less flexibility, or more notably, with knee injuries," fitness instructor Grace Albin tells Romper in an email exchange. She adds that pushing the limits of your flexibility could also lead to injury, so it's important to take it easy.


They Do Too Much Too Soon

You're a beginner, so probably won't nail absolutely every move perfectly in your first class. Don't forget that that's completely OK. "Give yourself time to familiarize yourself with the technique," Maggie Johnson, a Pure Barre instructor, tells Romper via email. "Class can be fast-paced, so take classes with different teachers and be sure to ask questions." It can be easy to start to get frustrated with yourself if you're struggling, but as you continue to go to classes, you'll pick it up.


They Anticipate Instead Of Listening

Although it can be easy to think you know what's coming next based on how an instructor starts to cue the class, don't give in. "Listening is so important when it comes to fitness, and especially with barre, because it is moving at such a fast pace and the instructor is sharing a lot of information," Teresa R. Ellis, a barre instructor tells Romper by email. Listen to the cues, then move.


They Worry Everyone Is Looking At Them

Contrary to popular belief, there's a good chance no one is looking at you. But when you're a little self-conscious that you're doing something new and maybe making mistakes, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the idea that everyone is seeing your mistakes and judging you for them. "Fellow barre mates are focused in on their own practice so beginners need not be anxious about judgment," Mollie Shepardson, owner and instructor at ROKbarre, tells Romper in an email exchange. "The instructor is there to come by and correct mistakes, mainly the ones that happen when the mind is nervously preoccupied with fear of judgement rather than listening and watching for cues."


They Choose Weights That Are Too Heavy

When choosing weights for a barre class, people who've used weights before for other workouts tend to choose weights that are too heavy, Melanie Kozel, the master teacher at The Dailey Method Barre + Cycle Studio - Towson, says. You'll be amazed how much your muscles shake and burn even with weights that you'd normally consider to be too light. Listen to your instructor if she guides you towards light weights for your first class, you can always move up to heavier ones your next time around.