Hey, there! Today’s post is all about how to save time choreographing your barre classes. When I first started teaching barre, I found myself spending hours on end trying to come up with the right class. Along the way, I’ve developed some tips that help me quickly choreograph classes that my clients love. Every studio and instructor is different; so, all of my tips may not work for you. But I think you’ll find at least one tip you can put to use today to help you create your classes a little more effectively!
How I format my classes.
Every studio is different, and some studios require instructors to format their classes a certain way. This section only applies to instructors who have the freedom to format their classes the way they want. For example, I can do core work at any point in the class I choose.
I like to have a set order in which I go through the different sections of a class. If I want to occasionally switch it up, I may do that. But I typically don’t deviate from that order.
Having a set order allows me to easily mix and match sections from previous classes to create a “new” class. Which brings me to my next point…
Class notes storage.
I touched on this in my post where I talked about tips for your group fitness instructor audition. In my opinion, the best way to store your choreography notes is electronically. I don’t use a notebook or paper for my choreography notes at all, and here’s why.
Mixing and matching different sections of the class allows me to create a “new” class without really adding any new choreography. I can pull together a class using different series from a bunch of past classes and boom - I have a brand “new” class with hardly any extra work. But this becomes a lot more time consuming and hard to track when I have to flip through a huge notebook of notes (or multiple).
Here’s exactly what I do:
I have an armband that I wear during classes that holds my phone, which is a lot easier to glance at than a notebook on the floor. Plus, I have an electronic record of what I taught (and when) that makes it very easy to mix and match when I’m short on time.
Use outside resources.
If you’re a barre instructor, there’s a good chance you also have some awesome choreography ideas. It’s important to tap into that, but it’s also important to know that there’s no way you can come up with fresh ideas every week. It’s okay to go online and be inspired. There are tons of resources out there with excellent barre choreography ideas, both free and paid!
I was certified through Barre Above, and afterward, I decided to join their Elite program. It only costs $99 for a full year of new releases every month. I don’t get 100% of my choreography from Barre Above, but I always use at least one or two of their series in my classes. The Elite program gets you get monthly releases of different choreography styles, which I love. Every month there’s a traditional Barre Above release, a Pilates-focus release, a ballet-focus release, a musicality “to the beat” release, a HIIT/cardio release, and more. With all that fresh content being released so often, I can’t even get through it all by the time a new release is out!
I also get great free ideas from YouTube. BODYBARRE has some excellent and fun series. Their Bohemian Rhapsody Plie series is one of my clients’ favorites! There are always new ideas you can get from looking on the internet. Checking out what other people are doing will also spark you to come up with great new ideas.
Finally, take other people’s classes. I can’t stress this enough! Fitness is an ever-changing industry with new trends and movements coming out all the time. We can and should all be learning from one another. I can guarantee you there’s another instructor at your gym or studio who uses a technique you haven’t seen before. In that hour of class, you’ll get a workout AND save the hours you might have spent scouring the internet for that perfect hamstring movement using a Pilates ball. Take other people’s classes, and take them often. You’ll continue to learn new things that you can take back to your choreography sessions.
PS - Take classes outside of your format, too. Your classes will be a lot more unique and creatively designed because of it. Pilates, spin, yoga, and CrossFit have all taught me things I’ve implemented in my barre classes.
Everyone’s classes are a little different, which is one thing that makes freestyle barre classes so awesome. I personally find it so much better to use music in the foreground of my class and develop choreography to the music in my playlist. My clients like it better and catch onto moves easier. Plus, it makes things a whole lot easier for me as an instructor and choreographer. Let’s not forget that Barre is ballet-based. Even though it’s not a ballet class, adding musicality to it and getting clients to understand an 8-count makes the class better (in my opinion).
Storing notes electronically allows me to quickly create a “new” class using sections of previous classes when I’m short on time. This seriously comes in handy during busy weeks!
I’m a huge advocate of using online resources for choreography inspiration. When you find a series you like to use, you can repeat it in multiple classes to a different song to give it a new feel.
While I do try to introduce at least one or two new movements to my clients every week, I don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel every class. There are lots of ways to make your classes feel new without actually spending hours coming up with new content every week.
If you’re a new instructor and you feel like you’re spending way too much time planning your classes, try some of these tips! And keep in mind that it’ll get much easier as you become more experienced.
If you’re an instructor, do you have any tips you use to save time creating classes as a group fitness instructor? How often do you use online resources for ideas?
If you take group fitness classes, do you like to have a brand new class every week? Or do you prefer some aspects of the class to be repeated?
Let me know your thoughts below in the comments! And check out the workouts I did last week.
As you may have read in my last post, I'm trying out Les Mills On Demand using their free 10-day trial. This is my first experience with Les Mills group fitness classes; but after trying some of the programs at home, I'd really like to do one in-person! Check out my review of Bodyattack #99 here. That post also has more information about who/what Les Mills is, as well as how you can try Les Mills programs at home for free.
This time, I decided to give Les Mills Barre a try. I didn't know what to expect at first. I had no idea that Les Mills even had a barre program until I browsed the On Demand catalog. When I think of Les Mills, I think of high energy workouts that are more aerobic/cardio-based. To be honest, my expectations for the barre program weren't high - I really just don't think of Les Mills when I think of barre.
But I have to admit that I was VERY pleasantly surprised! I tried the Les Mills Barre #02 release.
First, Les Mills Barre doesn't use a barre or any other support mechanism. While I actually loved this aspect of the class, it's something to note if you're looking for a typical barre experience. Anyone who’s familiar with barre knows that the class uses a ballet barre for support while performing some of the exercises. This class is an exception, which I think is great because it forces you to use your stabilizing muscles to stay balanced. However, they probably should've named this a ballet fitness class rather than barre since there's no barre or barre alternative involved.
The class was perfectly choreographed, as is the case with all the Les Mills programs I've tried. It was 30 minutes long, the same as all Les Mills Barre workouts. And the entire session had an excellent flow - each move and series had a flawless transition into the next.
What I appreciated most about this class was that the instructors were clearly former dancers. There were three of them, and they had excellent technique and used ballet terminology throughout the workout. As a former dancer myself, it was so refreshing to hear French ballet terminology beyond just plié and relevé! One of the things I love most about barre is that you don't have to be a dancer to do it. But I feel like we sometimes take too much of the traditional ballet base out of the class! I loved that Les Mills Barre used a lot more ballet moves than other barre classes I've seen and actually taught us the French names for them.
There was an arms section with light weights like you’ll find in most barre classes. I didn't think it was challenging, but the arms were active throughout the entire class. So, I was fine with the intensity of the weighted portion.
The overall class was challenging enough that anyone could benefit from it. Not having a barre there made it even more challenging, but the instructors offered plenty of modifications for people at different fitness levels. I enjoyed attempting to pirouette gracefully in my basement!
Although the choreography was excellent, the presenters in the On Demand version of Les Mills Barre #02 really made the class. If you've done other Les Mills programs, you're probably used to a lot of yelling and (almost scarily) high-energy instructors. I consider barre to be a mind-body format just as much as yoga or Pilates, and this particular workout had the same calm nature. The instructor's voice was so soothing! All three of the presenters had impeccable form, which really encouraged me to challenge myself with each movement.
I do wonder how this translates to a live class with different instructors since the feel of the class can easily change with someone else leading. The choreography, though, was some of the best I've seen in a barre class. I loved the glute work on the floor and plan to use some of it in my upcoming barre classes!
Musically, the song selection was great and matched the pace of the class perfectly. I really dislike the covers that Les Mills uses (they're nowhere near as good as the original songs). I understand they have to use them for copyright reasons, though :)
Check out my workouts from last week below:
75 minute heated vinyasa class
40 minute powerlifting workout (check Instagram for some movements!)
Taught 55 minute barre class
2 hour acro yoga class (review of this will be up next week!)
Taught 50 minute barre class
Sauna & steam room session
55 minute HIIT class
Taught 55 minute barre class
Have you tried Les Mills Barre in person or On Demand? How did you like it? What cool new workouts/classes are you trying this summer?
Let me know your thoughts, and enjoy the rest of your week!
Hello! This has been a super busy week, but I'm excited to say that I landed an additional barre class at a new gym!
As you'll see from my weekly workout summary, this week was very class heavy! I normally teach two barre classes a week but ended up teaching four this week. I was subbing on Wednesday and my audition at the new gym was on Thursday!
(Pro tip: The best way to get people to sub for you when you need a day off is to sub for others when you're available. I recently needed 3 subs while I was on a cruise and I’ll need a sub in June for my mom's wedding. So, I’ll be sure to return the favor. Plus, who doesn't love extra money?)
The fitness center where I currently teach is your typical CrossFit gym: no machines - just barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, and rowers. They only offer classes and there’s very little open gym time. While the classes are great, I’d love the option to do my own thing sometimes. I wanted to pick up another class at a more traditional gym so that I’d have access to a facility with the hours and equipment I need to get my weightlifting routine back to full throttle. And I found the perfect place!
This new gym is beautiful and has both free weights and machines. It also has a sauna and steam room! Not to mention, the group fitness classes sound pretty awesome. They offer incentives for getting high numbers in your classes, which I love! I'll be teaching at this gym on Thursdays, which brings my weekly teaching schedule to 3 classes per week (when I’m not subbing). Although I taught 4 classes this past week, I think 3 is more than enough for me right now.
(Pro tip: Dying to work out at that gorgeous gym but don't want to pay that monthly membership fee? Consider getting a part-time job there. Even if you aren't an instructor or trainer, just working at the front desk will more than likely get you a free membership. Free classes/memberships are one of my favorite perks of being a barre instructor!)
So, my audition at this gym went so well that I was offered the position on the spot! While this audition went great, my first ever group fitness audition (at the fitness center where I currently teach) wasn’t so great. Although I ended up getting the job, my nerves got the best of me. I was required to do a couple of weeks of shadowing other instructors before I could teach my second demo class and be added to the schedule. I picked up some useful tips along the way, though. I hope they help you nail your audition!
I probably won’t be auditioning again for a while. But these are all tips that can be applied to teaching regular classes when those pre-class nerves start kicking in.
Check out my workouts from this week:
Weight training at Planet Fitness (legs/glutes)
Taught 55-minute barre class
Taught 55-minute barre class
Taught 50-minute barre class (audition)
Taught 55-minute barre class
Barre workout at home
My goal for next week is to get in a lot more weight training than I did this week. Since leaving Planet Fitness a few weeks ago, I haven't been lifting nearly as much as I want to. That should change now that I'll be teaching at this awesome new gym!
Did you hit your workout goals this week? Do you have any auditions coming up, or any other tips I forgot? Let me know in the comments!
You may also like the following posts:
How I Became a Barre Instructor
How I Passed the ACE Group Fitness Instructor Exam
Les Mills Bodyattack Review
The purpose of this post is to explain how I got certified to become a barre instructor. I’m hoping that it’ll be helpful for anyone working toward a similar goal. Enjoy!
So, I teach barre at a local gym here in New Haven, Connecticut. Becoming an instructor wasn’t a cakewalk, though. There were a few hurdles to manage along the way.
If you decide one day that you want to be a barre instructor, the first thing you should do is figure out what type of gym or studio you’d like to teach at. If your goal is to teach at a franchise like Pure Barre, you’ll need to research their training requirements. Pure Barre, like many other barre studio franchises, requires that their instructors receive training through their franchise and in their specific method. The best way to learn about these requirements is to contact them directly.
When it comes to training, there are hundreds of barre instructor certificate programs out there; I researched quite a few of them before making my decision. I ended up choosing Barre Above because both the timing and location of their upcoming training were ideal for me. Originally, I was planning to travel to New York City for training. So, I was glad to find one much closer! Pro tip: Barre Above adds new training dates every day. Be sure to check their website for sessions near you.
There are also several online barre instructor certificate programs out there, but I would strongly advise against these. I don’t think anyone can be an effective barre instructor without a hands-on, in-person training experience. It's not just about getting the job, you also want to be a great instructor who can deliver safe and effective classes to participants. While an online class may be more cost-effective, I strongly recommend at least one day of in-person training.
I would’ve loved to attend a multi-day training (mostly available in major cities), however, these can be pretty cost prohibitive. Some cost thousands of dollars, which I wasn't willing to spend. The Barre Above program was $269.99, which I think is on par with other one-day specialty certificates.
Here are the details of the training:
It's a one-day, 8-hour live training. Prior to attending the training, you’re asked to complete two online modules (one on barre biomechanics and the other on musicality). While completing these beforehand isn't absolutely necessary, it’ll help you get the most out of your training day. You’ll need to complete them eventually if you want the full 12 credits for continuing education (1.2 ACE credits). Barre Above CECs (Continuing Education Credits) are accepted by all major Group Fitness Instructor certification programs. It’s a huge benefit!
The course was from 9 AM to 5 PM on a Saturday. The schedule was packed; we had very few breaks. And we spent the whole day in a fitness room. Our training included a full 75-minute workout and about 120 minutes of practical work. Having nutritious snacks to stay fueled was a must!
This training was actually my first time taking a barre class! I wasn't the only first-time barre attendee there, either. A lot of the trainees were already teaching another group fitness format, like yoga or Pilates, and wanted to bring barre classes to their studio.
During the training, we also spent time going over the history of barre, the Barre Above method, and best practices for a class. We learned about effective cueing, proper form, and the makeup of a barre class. At one point we broke out into smaller groups and created 10-minute warm-ups. When your group presented to the entire room, each person in the group had to lead a portion of the warm-up. This was my first time EVER teaching! Even though it was just a few minutes and this wasn't a real class, it was nerve-wracking!
This experience is one of the many reasons I recommend in-person training over an online certificate program. It’s helpful when your first time teaching is in front of a group of people you don't know, who aren't actual class participants. Teaching to family or friends just isn't the same! I was really grateful that I got this moment out of the way during training instead of during an audition.
They crammed a ton of content into this day, and I loved every second of it! It was great being able to network with the ladies in the training. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find your next group fitness instructor position through someone you meet at a training!
I ended up getting my first barre instructor position just a few weeks after the training. I’ll be writing a post all about that very soon, including tips on how to land your first group fitness instructor job.
Overall, I was very satisfied with the Barre Above training. Although it was just one day, I felt equipped to choreograph and teach an effective barre class afterward. Experience is the only way to really hone your teaching skills, but I found this training to be thorough and affordable. Our master trainer keeps in touch with us via e-mail and lets us know about upcoming opportunities like trainings, conferences, and job openings.
I also purchased the year-long Barre Above Elite membership after my training. It gives you access to monthly choreography releases, which include both videos and choreography notes. Each month, a few videos are released with different types of choreography. I often pick series that I like from these videos and incorporate them into my classes. Super helpful!
There are hundreds of barre instructor trainings out there. They all vary in cost and level of instruction. Do your research and find what works best for you. If you’re looking for a place to start, I highly recommend Barre Above as a thorough and affordable option. I appreciate that I can teach anywhere (with the exception of big corporate franchises like Pure Barre) rather than being limited to a specific brand or studio. With franchises like Pure Barre, you’re given specific choreography and music that you memorize and teach. I’m not knocking that format at all, but I prefer designing my own classes and having the freedom to teach something new each time. But go with whatever works for you!
Have you attended a barre instructor training? Did you feel prepared to teach after the end of your training? What are your thoughts on pre-choreographed versus classes you design on your own?
Let me know what you think!
If you liked this post, check these out:
How I Passed the ACE Group Fitness Instructor Exam
Group Fitness Audition Tips
Les Mills Bodyattack Review