We've all heard that tone of cheerful derision before from someone who’s never tried it… "Oh, Barre/Yoga/Pilates is 'exercise'" as they snigger to themselves. This prevailing belief that low impact exercise isn't a work out is a misconception - but where did it come from?
Low impact is any exercise where one foot stays on the ground at any given time, or jarring actions aren't taken, and hence reducing or having no force on the lower body joints. For that reason, it's often treated as not being "hard core" and hence not an intense workout. Think again...., just because you're not bouncing up and down, it doesn't mean your heart won't get pumping - after all, swimming, cycling, roller blading and dancing all fall into this category (unless of course your dance routine involves lots of jumping and leaping!). Pilates, yoga, and Barre also hit the no to low impact category, and can get a sweat up! Ever done Yin Yoga where you stand on one foot for half an hour. Watch the sweat pour then. Or a flow Yoga class that moves so fast you can hardly follow your breath!
High impact on the flipside is a more robust workout thanks to your body weight leaving the ground - think skipping, jump rope, running, and some forms of aerobics. While high impact definitely has benefits (high impact activities do encourage the bones to add mass!) and is great to incorporate into your fitness routine when you're already fit and looking to burn extra calories, it's not suited to all people.
So, why go Barre? Because it incorporates BiiT (Barre intensity interval training) similar to that new buzz word HiiT (High intensity interval training). In doing low impact exercise's our main benefit is in the longevity of our joints. High impact workouts can cause injury and long term damage from repeat strain on your joints which makes it stop being a feasible option as we get older. Low impact is great for people with existing injuries, joint problems, or arthritis, and is generally recommended in pregnancy and for overweight people as being more comfortable for the body but that's where the misconception ends. It is also for the young and fit who want high intensity and a great workout whilst preventing future damage through gaining flexibility and enormous strength.
Of course, if your body is up for a mix of high and low impact you can integrate the two! Low impact can counteract the damage of high impact by strengthening the muscles around your joints, helping the body to recover and heal fast, while the high impact will boost your fitness. But, you're no slouch if you decide to stick to the mat in studio - and dare the naysayers to try @theBarre Amplify while you're at it!