Over the past 12 months Barreworks founder Vicki Anstey and leading Physiotherapist Katherine Ready have been working to create a programme which identifies the benefits of barre for rehabilitation as well as its more commonly known benefit of conditioning for fully fit individuals.

Through their research they have identified that barre is versatile, adaptable and relevant to different audiences with simple modification. It can be used to treat end-stage rehab for Physio patients returning to exercise, just as much as it can enhance sports performance in elite athletes and offers a complete training programme for 'mainstream’ clients.

Barreworks is uniquely placed to offer both Instructor training (for fitness professionals to draw in general audiences) and the Physio Programme (for Rehab Professionals) looking to learn new techniques to incorporate into their practices. No other Studio in the UK offers this combination of programme for professional study.

So why Barre for rehab?

Barre is a form of modified ballet-based training that incorporates dynamic stabilisation and development of efficient movement patterns to create a robust system to minimise injury recurrence and enhance performance in other sports, in ballet itself and simply in functional day-to-day movement and promotion of long-term mobility into later life.

It allows individuals to develop strength, better balance and flexibility with nothing other than a ballet barre (the horizontal bar at waist level on which ballet dancers rest a hand for support during certain exercises) and their own body weight. Additional exercise aids can (and often are) used, but a ‘pure’ barre workout requires no additional equipment, so loads are managed easily without any risk of over-training.

Correct alignment is the foundation of all ‘held’ positions and subsequent movement. We can, and do, add load to those movements, but it is possible to achieve a ‘feeling’ of resistance using body weight only. With the body in correct alignment (holding correct posture), we can lift against the angle of a joint to create a training effect without any need for added load. Positioning is particularly important around the hips, shoulders and pelvis, to ensure core strengthening and avoid strain on the (lower) back.

So what is the function of barre? To aid alignment, improve posture and core strength.

The ballet barre itself provides support to enable small, precise movements, acts as a resistance aid for certain exercises and as a reference point to ensure the correct position is held whilst performing the exercises.

But in ballet, the term ‘barre’ refers not only to the actual barre, but to a series of stretching and strength-building exercises that form the basis of a dancer’s training, to increase strength and teach correct body placement.

The barre is often used as substitute for a partner whilst practicing the fundamentals of ballet movement. In Barreworks classes, this ‘support aid’ allows participants to isolate and target specific muscle groups whilst maintaining balance and correct posture.

Over time clients will develop the necessary core strength to be able to hold a ‘centered’ position without over-reliance on the barre.

How does it fit/enhance end-stage rehabilitation and (with progressions/modifications) a general audience ranging from ‘mainstream’ regular clients to sports coaches working with elite athletes to find an extra ‘edge’ or secret weapon in their bid to become better athletes?

Restoring/maintaining/building Optimal Function

  • Maintaining mobility
  • Unloading tissues and reducing pain
  • Controlling segmental translation
  • Controlling functional ROM
  • Increasing strength
  • Increasing speed and power
  • Increasing skill and co-ordination
  • Modifying cognitive & behavioural processes 

About Katherine Ready

Katherine Ready

Katherine graduated from St Georges Hospital Medical School in London in 2003 with a BSc in Physiotherapy. She initially started working in the NHS before working in private practice treating a range of musculoskeletal and sports related conditions. In 2007 Katherine started working with British Canoeing and has spent the last 10 years working in Olympic sport. This has involved treating Olympic, senior and development athletes both at home and overseas, in addition to leading the Sports Science and Medicine Team in supporting the athletes and coaches to achieve their goals. Katherine was the team physiotherapist for the London Olympic Games in 2012.

About Vicki Anstey

Vicki Anstey

A keen athlete, Vicki discovered the benefits of a dancer’s workout over 10 years ago. She found that not only did it improve her own shape, muscle tone and flexibility beyond recognition, but that it increased her strength and stamina for other sports. In 2008, Vicki trained in the Lotte Berk Exercise Method and has since gained significant experience teaching classes on a group and private basis in a variety of locations across London, including at the Lotte Berk Studio, Fulham. With overwhelming demand for her classes, Vicki opened Barreworks Studio in Richmond in February 2010.

In August 2010, Vicki trained and qualified as a fully licensed instructor of the New York City Ballet Workout. This highly-esteemed and world-renowned method has inspired the creation of the Barreworks Ballet Workout – an entirely unique programme incorporating aspects from standing barre, floor barre, deep core exercises and simple, choreographed movement combinations. Vicki’s theoretical learning includes the in-depth study of anatomy, physiology (including the specific physiology of stretching), study of the skeletal muscles, posture, core stability and pre and post natal exercise. She has strong links in the well-established barre scene in New York and has completed advanced-level Instructor training with the founders of one of the biggest barre Studio networks in the U.S, Exhale.

For more information, please visit www.barreworks.co.uk.