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Anyone who has been to a traditional barre class knows that those signature micromovements will make your muscles feel the burn. But make you breathless? Doesn't happen. Which is what sets this latest twist apart from other barre workouts: Instead of alternating stretching and exercising, it benefits from the heat of doing bigger moves back to back. (Here's another fired-up barre workout that burns more than your usual studio class.)
"We wanted the typical barre class to come alive so you're never standing in the same place for long periods of time or isolating one muscle," says Kerry Clarke, a cocreator of Fire Barre at POE (short for "peace on earth") fitness studios in New Jersey.
Plus, the Fire Barre creators have figured out how to intensify classic barre exercises to squeeze more sweat and sculpting out of every rep. In fact, each move in the routine targets a major muscle group and also brings in the surrounding smaller accessory muscles. "This gets you a higher caloric burn and helps you gain strength and musculature because you're hitting muscles that other workouts forget," says Fire Barre cocreator Kate Albarelli. Working small and large muscle groups at once will raise your metabolic rate and help you lose fat, she explains. (See what science has to say about the best exercises to boost metabolism.)
Clarke and Albarelli created a fast and furious sample workout for Shape that you can do even without the barre (just grab the edge of a countertop), plus a pair of light (2- to 3-lb) hand weights. You know that fire sensation you get in your muscles when you're about to quit? You'll feel that from start to finish in this dynamic routine.
How it works: Fire Barre's choreographed warm-up is dance-inspired; the idea is to flow through in constant motion. Do arm circles with knee bends in both directions; side-to-side lunges with overhead reaches; low squats with hands on floor; forward folds; and low lateral lunges with a flat back for a total of 3 minutes. After the warm-up, do each of the moves below for the reps indicated until you finish the workout. Do this routine three times a week for four to six weeks. You'll notice changes in just three workouts.
Total Time: up to 30 minutes
1. Triceps Step
Kneel on floor with a weight in each hand, arms by sides. Hinge body forward from hips and reach arms behind you so that one end of each weight rests on floor behind you.
Lift straight arms 10 to 12 inches, then lower weights to floor. That's 1 rep. Do 10 reps.
Turn palms down, touching weights to floor behind you.
Lift arms up and out to side in an arcing motion, then lower to floor again. That's 1 rep. Do 10 reps.
Scale down: Touch weights to the bottom step of a staircase instead of floor.
2. Rotated Strut
Stand facing barre, arm's-length distance away, both hands on barre slightly wider than shoulders. Cross left foot over right and twist hips to the left, keeping shoulders square to barre. Do 10 incline push-ups.
Perform 10 more push-ups, bringing bent right knee toward left elbow each time elbows bend. Extend right leg down to start each time the arms straighten. Switch sides; repeat.
20 per side
Scale down: Omit the first 10 incline push-ups.
3. Dancing Lunge
Stand with left side next to barre, left hand gripping barre loosely, right hand on hip. Step right foot forward, bending both knees to 90 degrees to start.
Hinge upper body forward from hips. Push off left foot to lean forward and lift left leg behind you, just below hip height. Return to start. That's 1 rep. Do 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
10 per side
Scale up: After lifting left leg, bring it to chest, extend back, then return to starting position.
4. Toe Bridge
Lie faceup on floor, knees bent, arms at sides. Straighten left leg up with toes pointed toward ceiling to start.
Lift hips high. Lower to start. That's 1 rep. Do 20 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
20 per side
Scale down: Lie on floor facing a staircase and place ball of right foot on bottom step instead of floor to perform reps.
5. Twisted Mermaid
Lie on floor on right side and prop yourself up on right elbow, left hand touching behind head, elbow bent out to side. Bend knees to a 45-degree angle in front of you, toes in line with hips to start.
Lift bent left leg up so knee is in line with shoulder.
Rotate at waist, bringing left elbow forward toward floor while extending left leg straight. Reverse movement to return to starting position. That's 1 rep. Do 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
10 per side
6. Figure 8 Weight
Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed out to sides, and hold one weight in right hand. Lower into deep squat to start.
Maintaining squat throughout, reach weight through legs and grab it with left hand.
Pull weight through legs to left side.
Immediately reach weight forward and back through legs, grabbing with right hand. That's 1 rep. Do 20 reps.
Scale up: Lift the right heel up for 10 reps, then left heel.
7. Ab Blast
Lie faceup on floor propped up on elbows, elbows stacked directly under shoulders, left leg lifted off floor 6 inches. Maintain position, keeping abs tight.
Lift arms out to sides at shoulder height and rotate palms down, keeping elbows bent at 90 degrees. Return to starting position.
Extend arms straight out in front at shoulder height. That's 1 rep. Do 10 reps. Switch legs; repeat.
10 per side
8. Shape Shifter
Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a weight in each hand straight out at shoulder height, palms facing each other. Bend elbows 90 degrees and press dumbbells together (keeping elbows about 6 inches apart). Maintaining bent-arm position throughout, rotate arms and torso to the right to start.
From there, draw a backwards Z with the dumbbells, rotating left (so weights are over left shoulder).
Then move diagonally downward toward the right (bringing weights by outside of right hip).
Then rotate toward the left (to bring weights by outside of left hip). Return to starting position. That's 1 rep. Do 20 reps, continuing in a fluid motion.
Scale up: Perform on knees. When arms are on upward diagonals, lift seat all the way off heels. When arms twist down to lower diagonals, sit back on heels.
Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for ELLE
Photo: Valorie Darling
Photo: Stella Artois
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