Barre as a workout technique is taking the world of fitness by storm—and with good reason. Not only does a barre workout help you maintain good balance and posture, it also has the potential to help you burn off those extra pounds. We give you the low-down on what makes barre such a hot favorite across the country.

The barre workout is essentially an exercise routine centered around a barre—the handrail used extensively in ballet training. A barre handrail can be made of plastic, wood and metal is stationary, providing support for its users during their exercise routine. Though it might seem only a simple apparatus at first, the barre goes a long way in strengthening muscles and improving flexibility.

The barre handrail is used for both, easier warm-up exercises and more strenuous, faster workouts. A number of barre classes incorporate techniques from ballet, yoga, cardio, weights and pilates in an attempt to make it a well-rounded workout. Besides the ever present handrail, they also make use of props like weights.

A typical barre workout targets all parts of your body in turn. After a warm-up session, the upper body muscles are worked, including the chest, back and the arms. Weights and push-ups are used to strengthen these parts of the body. Then the workout makes use of the barre rail to target the hips, thighs and buttocks area. During the entire session, the focus is maintained on the core as well but the abs are especially targeted in the latter part of the routine. The workout ends with cooling down by stretching exercises that improve flexibility, balance and posture.

Unlike a number of other disciplines, you tend to get results relatively fast with barre—provided, of course, that you keep at it. Barre is a great workout for pregnant women as well, for its routine is low-impact as compared to some more rigorous routines out there. Another plus point of a barre workout is that it especially appeals to those with a hectic lifestyle, since it is a quicker fitness routine than a number of its counterparts. In fact, an average barre class lasts for 60 minutes from beginning to end.

A far as what to wear to a barre workout is concerned, regular exercise clothes work well. Comfortable and snug yoga tights and a t-shirt or a tank top is ideal for the routine. Those who do not particularly like wearing sneakers will love the fact that you do not need any for a barre class. You can do the workout bare feet or with well fitting, non-slippery socks.

Finding a barre class that suits your location and exercise timings should not be too difficult, for barre studios and classes are coming up all over the country. Some of the more widespread chains include Barre3, Pure Barre, Physique57, The Bar Method and Beyond Barre. And for those who do not have a barre class close enough, studios like Barre3, Beyond Barre, and Physique57 offer on-demand videos and streaming of workouts too.

Barre is a high intensity but low impact exercise routine that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, lifestyles, shapes and sizes. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to have a dance background to take up barre. Besides professional trainers, a number of barre studios have online communities and blogs that help you stay focused and address any concerns that you may have as well.

An ideal barre class aims to tone muscle and burn excess fat while also improving flexibility, balance and posture. However, as with any exercise regime, it is always best to check with your health care provider if a barre workout is the best suited to your needs.

Also, while making barre an essential part of your exercise regime, remember to incorporate other healthy habits into your lifestyle. If you get a good night’s rest, eat nutritious food and cut down on empty calories at the same time as working out the barre way, there’s no telling how much weight you can lose and how toned and stress-free you can become!