TORONTO, Canada — Ballet Barre has become an increasingly popular form of exercise in the past few years. It combines Classical Ballet technique with Pilates to offer practitioners the maximum workout. As a result, FG Magazine has sought out Voula Floros, the owner of Barre Beautiful, a Ballet Barre studio in Toronto to answer a few questions regarding this movement.
Barre Beautiful: Interview of Voula Floros
Where did you get the idea to start a ballet barre studio and how did you become a ballet barre instructor?
I started doing Ballet Barre classes while visiting a friend in Los Angeles and loved them. I came back to Toronto and I could not find them anywhere. I have always loved ballet and have been passionate about fitness (I am a pilates instructor and fitness instructor). So, I decided to use my fitness expertise and work with ballet dancers to put together an amazing workout and offer it to my fellow Torontonians. I was sure people would enjoy this type of workout as much as I did.
How was the Ballet Barre technique created? Is it something that has been modified and changed overtime to accommodate different needs?
Ballet Barre based workouts have been around since the 70’s gaining a lot of popularity in the US over the last 10 years. It just takes a bit longer for things to come to Canada. It is gaining popularity because generally barre workouts are a fun way to stay fit. Fitness is constantly evolving, and workout methods are constantly changing, as we learn to train more effectively, efficiently and safely. Barre workouts are a product of this evolution. Fusing one of the most classic forms of movement, ballet, with one of the most biomechanically sound fitness approaches, Pilates, to create an amazingly effective, sound and even romantic form of exercise.
There are people who dislike working out at the gym. Would ballet barre be a good replacement for that and how does it benefit your body?
The main difference is the quality of instruction. At Barre Beautiful we aim to provide a personal training experience in a group atmosphere. Instructors motivate you and walk around the room making sure participants are executing the moves correctly.
Everyone can benefit from the Barre Beautiful workout. Increased mind and body awareness, postural improvement, enhanced range of motion and movement, weight management or loss, muscular endurance and improved coordination, stress release, improved cardiovascular health and increased bone density are just a few of the benefits that a Barre workout offers.
The workouts are also low impact so they are easy on the joints and perfect for participants with special considerations. A runner, hockey player and a triathlete, a weight lifter or even a yoga follower can all benefit. Exercise science and studies have proven that the more varied our exercise activities the better our overall health and the more effective our workouts.
Some people are self-conscious of the way they look when they workout in groups or by themselves at the gym. What would you recommend to these people to make them more comfortable? Do you need to have had formal dance training at all?
Our clients come in all shapes and sizes, everyone is there to be get fit and to have fun. The atmosphere at our studio is friendly and unpretentious and our instructors are there to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable. Private sessions are available for people who really do not like group fitness. No dance experience is necessary at all.
Which class would you recommend to a beginner who just decided to change their lifestyle and has not worked out in a while? Once they are comfortable at that level, which class could they try?
All our classes are mixed level. Participants are encouraged to workout at their own pace. The classes remain the same for an entire month so participants have some time to master the moves. At the beginning of each month we change the classes to keep the body guessing and to maximise fitness gains.
You offer postural analysis. What are some of the problem areas you have noticed in many people and how should they go about fixing it?
There are many different body types and we all have different habits that affect our posture. Doing a workout where you are constantly engaging postural muscles improves mind body awareness and postural awareness. This awareness carries through to the rest of your daily activities resulting in more efficient movement and better posture.
Finally, has Ballet Barre changed the way people approach their lifestyle significantly? In what ways? Also, what does Ballet Barre mean to you personally?
There are so many different ways to exercise and I do not believe that any one is better than the other. Some people like running, some like doing Yoga, some people like crossfit and some others like Ballet Barre. It is all about finding something you love to do to stay active and fit. For a lot of our clients a Ballet Barre workout is that thing, the workout they love most.
I have had many clients tell me they hated working out until they started coming to Barre Beautiful. I love our workout because it engages your mind as well as your body. It improves balance, coordination posture and muscle tone. You walk out knowing that you just did something amazing for yourself and had fun doing it.
If you think that Ballet Barre could be an option for you, then get your workout wear out and join Voula in this fantastic workout.