5 Barre Moves You Can Do Without A Barre (All You Need Is 10 Minutes!)
Wouldn't it be great if you had an hour each day to recharge and energize your body? You know it would.
But let's face it, sometimes this isn't always possible. But did you know that as little as 10 minutes of activity spread out in bursts throughout your day can boost your metabolism, pump-up your heart rate, loosen your joints, reduce stress and clear your head? It's true! Next time you're longing for me-time on the mat — but chained to your desk under the weight of a looming deadline — get up and move for just 10 minutes.
Developing the habit of moving throughout the day takes practice. Set an alarm to chime hourly as a reminder to get up. Long conference call? Try working in a few sets of the following exercises while listening in. Or, hold a plank for the minute it takes to heat up your lunch.
Once you start working small active moments into your day, you may be surprised by how many short bursts you can fit in, and where. Try these five barre3 moves anywhere to lift, lengthen, tone and energize. No barre, weights, or even mat required. All you need is yourself and a core ball — for one of the exercises.
Sadie Lincoln (pictured below), the founder of yoga/pilates/ballet-inspired barre3, depends on go-anywhere moves like these to stay fit and focused even while on the road. Complete the suggested reps in each of these postures, and you've completed 10 minutes of total body toning and strengthening. If at first you need additional balance support in these postures, a stable chair or countertop will do.
Horse Pose Plies
Setup: Step your feet wider than your hips with toes turned out at 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock. Bend your knees and slide your back down an imaginary wall. Your knees are in line with your middle toe and you should be able to see your big toe inside of your knees. Hips are level and square, engage your core and stack your shoulders right over your hips.
Movement: Place your hands on your hips or at heart's center in prayer. Drop your hips one inch, then lift up one inch. Keep pressing your feet into the floor and lifting up tall as you slide one inch up and down the imaginary wall. Complete 30 reps.
Pain in the knees? Work higher or step your feet closer together. Want to take it up a notch? Sweep your arms above your head as you lower your hips. Or challenge your balance by lifting your heels off the floor and pushing evenly through the balls of your feet, as Sadie is demonstrating in the photo.
Setup: Start in Horse Pose (see setup for first exercise). Place your left hand on your hip and your right hand low in front.
Movement: Bend your knees and slide your back down an imaginary wall. Press your left foot into the floor, then lift up tall sweeping the right arm overhead while extending your right leg off the floor. Reach long through the fingers and toes, finding length in the side body. Return to your starting position and repeat. Don't be afraid to move big, taking up as much space as you can. Do 15 reps, then switch to the left side and repeat. Like you, this move is a real multi-tasker. It lifts the heart rate while sculpting the legs and the waistline.
Tricky balancing in this posture? Place your hand on the back of a stable chair or a countertop. Or you can keep your toes on the floor as you sweep your arm overhead. Ready to go turbo? Try sinking lower in horse pose or pausing at the top for a balance challenge.
Setup: Start with your feet parallel and hip width apart. Step your right foot forward and your left foot back. Bend both knees and bring your hands to your hips or to heart's center in prayer. The right knee is directly over your right ankle.
Movement: Drop your left knee down one inch as you push your feet into the floor. Lift up one inch and continue moving only your left (back) knee as you lift up tall. Your right knee stays directly over your ankle. Think of creating opposition in your body - your spine lengthens as you reach the crown of your head up and your knee down in the other direction. Switch sides after 30 reps and repeat.
If you're having knee or low back pain, work higher. Also consider leaning forward slightly with a long spine, placing more weight on your front foot to relieve pressure on your back knee. Want to go deeper? Draw your inner thighs up and in toward your midline. Lift the heel of your front foot and root through the balls of both feet, as pictured above.
Setup: If you're on a hard surface, fold a small towel underneath your knees to protect them. Come down to the floor. Place your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Knees are under your hips. Engage your core. Spine is long and neutral. Gaze falls either between the hands or just a few inches in front of the fingers - no pressure on the neck!
Movement: Sweep your knee behind you, keeping a 90 degree bend in your leg. Your thigh is parallel to the floor and toes point up. Lift the toes one inch, squeezing the base of the seat and keeping the hips level. Lower down one inch and repeat for 30 reps. Switch sides and repeat.
For extra core work, slowly lift your left arm out in front of you and push into your right hand and left shin as you lift and lower the toes. Want to work your hamstrings, too? Place a core ball behind your knee and draw your heel towards your seat to engage the hamstring.
I'm just crazy about this one because it works every muscle of the core and it never gets easier. That's a good thing!
Knees or low back crying uncle? Find a stable chair or countertop. You can get similar benefits using a standing variation of this posture.
Setup: Step your right foot forward and your left foot back. Square the hips by pulling the left hip point forward and drawing the right hip point back. Draw your fingertips behind you in a V or interlace them behind your back as you reach your knuckles towards your back heel.
Movement: Pull your belly button toward your spine. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lift your heart. Take five deep cleansing breaths, then switch sides and repeat. To go deeper, push the heel of your right (front) foot into the floor as you reach through the ball of your left (back) heel. Draw your inner thighs in towards your midline. Sink your hips another inch deeper as you feel your muscles begin to warm and open. I include this stretch in every class because it opens and lengthens the quadriceps and hip flexors, which are often tight.
Got it? Good! Now get off that booty and move!
Alicia Sokol, MPH is a freelance writer and photographer living in Washington, DC. She created the blog Weekly Greens to demystify the notion of home cooking for busy people (yes, you). Her recipes, cooking tips and stories inspire her readers to back away from the hot bar, embrace whole food ingredients and cook from scratch with no fuss. She is also a certified instructor of barre3 — a combination of yoga, ballet and pilates — in Georgetown. Follow her on Instagram @aliciasokol for a chronicle of foods she's whipped up for dinner and booties she's whipped in the studio.