Class review: The Bootybarre workout

A class review of Bootybarre.

With a name like “Bootybarre,” you know you’re heading into a class with a little sass and some serious work for the backside. And that’s the truth. Today, I’m going to tell you all about the Bootybarre workout, what to expect in your first Bootybarre class and give you some tips to make the most of your time at the barre. But first, a little background (as a note, I’m a certified Bootybarre instructor and wrote this post while going through the process to get certified) …

What is Bootybarre?

Bootybarre is a barre class created by the super-fit Pilates maven, Tracey Mallett, who has blonde hair, eight-pack abs and a British accent. She’s a former dancer and has created a number of programs under her Bootybarre company. The signature class is called Bootybarre Plus, and that’s what you’ll find offered most frequently at studios and gyms across the country (and outside of the country too!).

At the heart, Bootybarre has dance, Pilates and yoga movements all combined into one class. It’s low impact – there’s no jumping, you need minimal equipment, and you get both strength and flexibility training with a little cardio to boot. Oh, and you can also expect to shake your hips a bit and crack a couple of smiles while enjoying the burn of small isometric typical “barre-like” moves. Yes, it’s got some cheese for sure.

Class review of The Bootybarre workout by A Lady Goes West

Show up to Bootybarre with an open mind, open ears and knowing your limits. A good Bootybarre instructor will give low options to every single person in class, progressing (making harder) and regressing (making easier) many moves throughout the class so that everyone feels successful. For instance, during one of the cardio blasts, oftentimes instructors ask participants to do plank mountain climbers — a regression for that move would be having the participant do the mountain climbers standing at an angle, with their hands on the barre, and this takes some of the load off their upper body and core. Whatever works for your level!

Bootybarre vs. other barre classes

The big things fitness professionals and participants will want to know about Bootybarre is that it is done entirely in neutral spine. If you don’t know what that means, it means you don’t “tuck under” like some popular barre-class chains. I personally LOVE the fact that the class is done in neutral spine, because it is easier for people to do properly and feels more natural.

The second differentiating factor is that you will do much of the relevé work with only a partial relevé (relevé means going up onto the balls of your feet with heels in the air). Bootybarre calls for a “kitten heel” lift in the heel rather than a “stiletto.” And that’s safer for your body and helps you to keep all ten toes active on the ground. It feels better and for most people, gives you a chance to focus on the move at hand, rather than worrying so much about whether your heels are lifted high enough.

What’s a Bootybarre Plus class like?

The typical Bootybarre Plus class runs 45 minutes to just over one hour in length from the warm-up all the way to the cool-down. You will do class in a barre studio with fixed barres on the wall or in a regular gym studio with movable barres, which you set up yourself. (Moves will be modified for movable barres.)

Booytbarre workout review by A Lady Goes West

The music in a Bootybarre Plus class

The music that you hear in a class is entirely dependent upon the instructor. While all songs need to have a specific beat of 126-128 bpm, the genre is up to the teacher. I’ve found that 126 bpm is the sweet spot for all mixes and have been creating Top 40 mixes with seamless transitions. (Instructors find and purchase their own music, unlike Les Mills programs which I’ve taught for years, in which music is licensed and provided.)

Right now, there are more than 7,000 instructors doing Bootybarre in 3,000 locations. And unlike franchise group fitness chains or Les Mills group fitness programs, instructors own their “Bootybarre” title once certified and can teach the class anywhere they would like. If the class is called “Bootybarre” you know that instructor has gone to an initial training and become certified by submitting a video. While the basic framework for every single Bootybarre Plus class is the same, depending on the instructor and level of participants, moves and reps can be different.

The framework for a typical Bootybarre Plus class

  1. Warm-up – A multi-planar warm-up that starts with the feet (open and closes from parallel feet to first position), to crescent pose, downward-dog to plank lifts, plies, sumo squats and more. The warm-up usually takes about six to eight minutes and definitely does its job.
  2. Arm Sculpting – This portion requires light hand-weights. While most barre classes offer the two- and three-pound weights primarily, I think Bootybarre is a class where you can tackle five-pound weights. While the work is hard, we aren’t hanging out in any one position for as long as some other classes. There are lateral raises, overhead presses, bentover flyes, bentover rows, tricep extensions, arm circles and more. The arms portion runs about 10 minutes. The best part? Depending on the level of challenge you want, you can do the whole thing on relevé as an option.
  3. Barre Isometrics – This is the first time you’ll use the barre in class. Standing next to the barre with your hand on it, you’ll do a signature rolling through the feet move, plies in first and second position and some hip moves to get the muscles loose and ready to work. This section is pretty short.
  4. Barre Flexibility and Flow – This is a fairly “classical ballet” portion, in which you stand at an angle from the barre, do battements (kicks), arabesques and attitudes. During this portion, you’ll get a bit more flowing movement and feel the body open up. 
  5. Sideline Barre Series – This is the toughest part of class. It not only gets your heart-rate up, but also has the greatest range of motion. While standing to the side of the barre you’ll do side crunches, hip openers, plies to kicks and more. 
  6. Cardio Interval Blast – There are two cardio blasts in a typical Bootybarre Plus class, and they can include knee repeaters holding onto the barre, mountain climbers, etc.
  7. Facing the Barre – During this portion, you’ll face the barre. It includes squats, pulses, more arabesques and single-leg work.
  8. Cardio Interval Blast – The second short cardio blast, sometimes featuring bunny hops or plank jacks.
  9. Pure Booty – This is another burner, and the last barre section, in which you grab a ball and put it between the thighs. You’ll do squats, ball squeezes, leg lifts holding the ball behind the knee and more. It burns.
  10. Abs, Back, Flexibility – There are some unique moves in this section, which usually runs about 10 minutes total, including swimming, side planks, some core work with your stomach scooped in, even triceps dips and push-ups. 
  11. Cool-down – Stretching! 

Benefits of Bootybarre classes

When you take a Bootybarre class, you’re working on making your body more flexible, you’re building strength in your feet (which is super important), working on your arms, legs and core and also getting a conditioning benefit from the cardio bursts. Perhaps the best part? The workout combines these three elements, which you often have to do in separate classes.

How often should you take Bootybarre classes?

As with any workout, you don’t want to do it every single day. However, Bootybarre is a workout that is safe to do multiple times a week – it’s not a HIIT class, nor is it a high-impact class, which would require extra downtime between sweat sessions. I would recommend two-to-three times a week, with a rest day or active recovery day in between. You’d want to supplement that with another day of heavier resistance training and additional cardio.

What to expect in the Bootybarre workout by A Lady Goes West

Tips for your first Bootybarre class

  • Make sure you let the instructor know what you’re new before class, so they can keep their eyes on you and assist your throughout.
  • Set up in the middle of the room, not at the ends of the barre. The ends of the barre should be reserved for more advanced students, because you’ll face the ends during class and may look to those leaders for cues on form and moves.
  • Keep your outside hand on your hip throughout class and don’t worry about doing any arm work — just focus on your legs.
  • Stay low in your relevé and constantly think about keeping your shoulders back over your hips and pelvis in neutral.
  • Use two-pound weights for the upper-body portion and put the weights down whenever you need to. Also, remain on the flat foot during this portion, even if the rest of the class goes up to relevé.
  • Take breaks when you need to and have fun! 

Bootybarre Plus overview details …

  • Duration: 45 minutes to 1 hour
  • Attire: Wear tight-fitting workout crops and a tank, hair back and bare feet
  • Equipment: Bring water and a towel; the studio will provide a soft ball, light hand-weights and a barre
  • Format: Starting with a bodyweight warm-up, moving on to arm work with light weights, barre work, barre work with a ball, core, back and flexibility work on the ground, finishing with a cool-down
  • Difficulty: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being super hard, probably a 6 depending on the levels you choose — definitely good for beginners and no barre experience required

Other Bootybarre classes

There is a Bootybarre Sculpt class, with a ton of strength work and a Bootybarre Flex & Flow class, which incorporates resistance bands on the barre. There is also a new class called Bbarreless, which is barre without the barre. I haven’t taught any of those yet, but have taken them. 

Becoming a Bootybarre instructor

*Edited to add.

If you’re interested in becoming an instructor, you have to go to an initial training weekend, then submit a video of yourself teaching a class. The training weekend is definitely not as intense and demanding as a Les Mills initial training weekend, and the overall process to get certified is easier.

If you want to find a Bootybarre class near you, check out this class locator. Have fun! And check out more of my class reviews here.

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Questions of the day

Have you ever taken a barre class?

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  1. Looks super fun! Congrats on becoming an instructor! I’ve done a bunch of barre classes and would absolutely try this if there was one near me. Cool!

    1. Barre is a great compliment to Les Mills programs, that’s for sure. What’s been your workout routine lately, lady? Getting in some variety I bet! 🙂

    1. Hi Heather! Bootybarre is much more welcoming than some of the other stuffy franchised barre studio classes, that’s for sure. I think you’d like it. Hope you’re having an awesome week, friend! 🙂

  2. In college I was all about cardio and mostly ran for my workouts. Lately I have been doing a mix of mostly strength training with a little cardio with a tiny bit of flexibility training. I basically like doing a little bit everything! And I’ve only been to Flybarre and done a few barre videos online. I really enjoy it though and am amazed on how much I can feel the little movements or pulses.

    1. Hi Patricia! I know, I remember the feeling of my first barre class. I didn’t know what to expect, but because so many of the movements were small, I was shocked at how tough it was! And it’s great that you’re doing a variety of training right now. Keep it up, girl! 🙂

    1. Please fly me in! I’ve never been to Chicago and would happy to tour the City and teach classes. Can I stay with you and your dog? heheheh 🙂

  3. I’ve been to Pure Barre a half dozen times and really enjoyed it, but I have to agree about worrying about staying so high on your toes and tucking in so much! Until it is mastered, it’s like which one should I do?!?! The burn from barre class, ouuuch.

    1. The tuck under is super hard for people, and isn’t all that functional. I know some barre studios have reasons as to why they do it, but I way prefer not to. 🙂 Have an awesome evening, Jessie!

  4. LOVE The sound of this class! I love barre class but with the price tag for more of a boutique feel I can’t do it as often as I like! This class looks awesome!

    1. I feel ya, Fiona. Studio classes can get expensive. I’m teaching this class at 24 Hour, so people get it as part of their membership, which is cool. Fitness gets pricey, so options like this help. 🙂

  5. The booty barre workout is not easy for me. I`m working in IT and 90% of my time I spend it seating down. I started to worry because lately I can`t keep my back straight.

  6. Hi Ashley! Thank you so much for this post. I really enjoyed it! I’m a Zumba/dance cardio instructor in Dallas, and I’ve been looking into becoming a barre instructor, too. I’ve looked at different programs, and this one has really caught my attention. I have a couple of questions that I can hope you can help me with: (1) Can you teach at any place once you become a licensed instructor? (2) Do you have to call it BootyBarre? I’m asking because some locations may prefer a generic name like “Cardio Barre” or something like that as they don’t like to use so many group x brand names. Thank you for sharing your fitness experience and wisdom! 🙂

    1. Hi Martha, thanks for reading! Becoming a barre instructor is definitely a great addition to the fitness teaching that you are already doing. If you get certified through Bootybarre just to get the certification, you don’t HAVE to teach the exact Bootybarre class and call it Bootybarre. However, if you are teaching the format exactly as given to you from the Bootybarre organization, then you need to call it that. Make sense? If you are delivering the Bootybarre product, it needs the proper name. But I know some barre studios who use the Bootybarre training, and then they change up the choreography and moves and just call it “barre.” It’s totally your choice. It’s up to your studio! Does that answer your question? Hope so! 🙂

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