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Everything You've Ever Wanted to Ask a Barre Instructor

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Welcome to Racked's Fitness Week: five days of workout coverage, so that you can start your New Year's resolutions off right.

Movements in barre-based workout programs are small and slight, but that doesn't mean they're simple. Legs tremble, arms shake, and abs beg for mercy the same way they would in a circuit training class. Since 2006, Physique 57 has been one of the big players in the fitness world's barre revolution, with just-under-an-hour classes that tone and strengthen for long, lean muscle.

After the jump, co-founder Tanya Becker explains how to know when you're doing it right, what to eat before and after, and how long it typically takes to get the hang of it. Plus, she recommends a pair of flattering workout pants, as well as ways to tweak your movements to look even better in them.

How do you know when you're doing it right?

You know you're doing it right when you're feeling a lot of heat in your muscles and sometimes they start to shake or quiver.

Okay, but how do you know if you're tucking your hips properly?

Hip tucks are small, deliberate movements in which you roll your hips forward and release them back. You should feel a slight contraction in your abdominal wall and glutes. These movements strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and loosen up your lower back. Plus, they're a little bit sexy and incredibly fun!

When it's really painful and your legs are quivering, is it okay to shake them out and then restart? Or should you just endure the agony?

It's not about how many times you stop, it's about how many times you start again. You don't have to suffer to get a beautiful body. However, you do have to make sure you are feeling the burn.

What does it mean when they're shaking?

Shaking means it's working! Physique 57 is based on the principle of Interval Overload, isolating every muscle group and challenging it to the point of fatigue. Due to the intensity of the workout, you should feel heat in your muscles, which is a sure sign that you are working effectively and achieving those beautiful long, lean muscles.

What's the best thing to eat before a barre workout, and after? Is carbing up a good or bad idea?

It's important to energize your body with proper fuel. My favorite pre-workout snack is apple and almond butter. It's a light, great bite to prepare you for your workout. For post-workout, we love our hydrating Watermelon Cooler from our book, the Physique 57 SolutionPhysique 57 Solution.

Carbs are nothing to fear, particularly if eaten in moderation. I love quinoa and brown rice. It's important that the carbs you eat don't weigh you down. Stay away from white flour and sugar.

Have you ever had people in class who just can't do it? What do you tell them to keep them motivated?

Many of our clients are surprised by the level of intensity of the workout during their first class. We always say it never gets easier, but you get better! As you come more often, your stamina and endurance will increase and the results will follow. Your potential is unlimited, you just have to make the commitment.

How long do you think it takes to get the hang of it?

It varies, however for beginners we usually say after five to ten classes you start to get the hang of it. The great thing about our workouts is we offer different levels and modifications.

What kind of results should you expect from taking a class once a week for a month? Twice a week for a month? Twice a week for two months?

For best results, we recommend clients take three to four classes a week. However, you'll start to results in as few as eight classes. The more you come the faster you'll see results!

Are there ways to tweak the workouts to focus more on certain areas? For example, ways to work your abs harder when you're working on your seat?

Absolutely, we believe the muscles of the body work together synergistically. In order to feel more, we encourage our clients to go towards the burn instead of away from it. The beauty of our technique is that there are always tiny tweaks you can make in your form or you can always work that extra bit deeper to keep the results coming, year after year. By delving into this temporary discomfort, not only will you work harder, but your body will change quicker.

What are three activewear essentials you can't live without?

My Sparkly Soul headband to keep my hair pulled back, my grippy ballet slippers and my Yummie Riley leggings—they are super flattering!
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