Work Those Female Wonder Zones With Total Barre

An ex-professional dancer turned Total Barre instructor and fitness guru tells us how to get toned for real!  No tutus required!


Total Barre

Total Barre™ is a high-energy, full body workout, which concentrates on the seat, abs, arms, thighs and hips- those female wonder zones that need a wee extra effort to keep trim and toned.  Introduced by Meritthew Health & Fitness earlier in 2013, it integrates elements of Pilates, dance, cardio and strength straining.

Fit to Inspire spoke to Jennifer Dahl, Lead Instructor Trainer of Stott Pilates and certified Total Barre and Zenga instructor, who assured us that this program is geared for everyone. No dance experience or tutus required! Dahl is also a certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise.


Total BarreHow long have you been practicing Total Barre?

I feel like I have been practicing Total Barre for many years since my background is in classical ballet and contemporary dance. I have been dancing professionally for almost 20 years and began teaching Total Barre earlier this year since its development.

What is the philosophy and inspiration behind Total Barre?

The inspiration was born out of a need to address a more diverse spectrum of mind-body work. The focus was to develop a safe, effective program, using the most current biomechanical and anatomical information. The program is based on six movement awareness fundamentals that form the basis and structure for each segment and subsequent exercises.

How does this philosophy apply to women over 40?

The beauty of this program is its flexibility to serve any age group, and demographic. The appeal to women over 40 is that Total Barre fills a gap in the fitness industry that sits somewhere between very strenuous bootcamp-style workouts and classes that are too general and not challenging enough. Women over 40 are inclined towards safe, smart and effective workouts, so Total Barre is a perfect fit.

What are the key ingredients of Total Barre?

The six principles of breathing, pelvic placement, ribcage placement, shoulder stability and mobility, head and cervical placement and hip, knee, foot alignment. Good coordination is also key. We blend these principles throughout the workout to form the basis for the safety and effectiveness of every movement. We also focus on endurance, cardiovascular intervals and musicality, which adds that extra challenge and feel good factor.

What are the benefits of Total Barre?

Total Barre is a high-powered, balanced workout that aims to streamline as well as tone. It involves weight bearing to ensure healthy bones and helps you build muscle, stamina and awareness. What’s more, when your coordination skills are enhanced, your brain power increases. 80% of the Total Barre program is done upright, so the movements aid with balance and promotes safe movement patterns that can be used throughout daily activities. A squat, for example, is like sitting down or getting up out of a chair.

Do you need a certain level of fitness or dance experience to get started?

Total Barre is for everyone and no dance experience is required.

Meritthew Health & Fitness have been developing safe and responsible exercise (the STOTT PILATES method) for the past 25 years. They designed Total Barre to emphasize the correct biomechanics of movement, combined with the power of music to increase strength, flexibility, stamina and dynamic stability.

Read writer Mahi Solomou’s experience at her first Total Barre class here.

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